An official report into the use of Taser by police officers is flawed and does not reflect the situation on the ground, according to the chair of South Wales Police Federation.
Steve Treharne said the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) review had examined only 0.1 per cent of all Taser uses - and had not sought the views of frontline officers, many of whom regard it as a vital piece of equipment.
The IOPC review considered 101 incidents involving Taser over five years, when the devices were deployed almost 100,000 times over that same period.
Steve said: “We welcome reviews into the use of Taser, but this report does not paint an accurate picture.
“The report looks at just 101 incidents over a five-year period, which is not representative of how these devices are deployed.
“Also, it’s disappointing that the IOPC failed to consult the Police Federation and our 130,000 members for this review.
“Officers are well trained in the use of Taser and for many frontline officers these devices are an important piece of kit in their response to violent incidents and calls from the public.”
Ché Donald, vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), was also critical over the Federation being left out of the consultation process.
He said: “For many years, PFEW has fully supported the IOPC’s desire to seek improvements to national Taser guidance and training. Police officers are the practitioners of Taser and would ultimately be affected by these recommendations if implemented. We are naturally disappointed our 130,000 members were not consulted.”
Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for less lethal weapons, also weighed in with criticism of the review.
She said: “Unfortunately, this report by the IOPC is vague, lacks detail, does not have a substantive evidence base and regrettably ignores extensive pieces of work that are already well underway and, indeed, other areas where improvements could be made.
“I advised the IOPC of my concerns and am extremely disappointed that it did not engage with policing, attend a Taser training course or consult the national independent experts with whom we work whilst undertaking its initial research.”
In terms of the 101 Taser uses considered, she added: “Focusing on these smaller number of cases missed an opportunity to consider Taser use more broadly and, unfortunately, has resulted in recommendations which are mostly out of date and not based on the realities of policing. The focus on such a small data set ignores good practice and learning elsewhere.”
The IOPC report has made 17 recommendations to the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and the Home Office seeking improvements to national guidance and training; scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use; and data and research.