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back to article Taser gun usage soaring among UK cops

The Home Office has announced an increase in police use of Taser electroshock stun weapons in the UK, releasing figures up to the end of February today. "The number of Taser uses and discharges has increased as more trained police officers have the authority to use them," according to an official statement accompanying the new …

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Paris Hilton

Time for the tin foil suits

(OK thick tin foil)

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Accuracy

Have to agree with the main thrust here, the value of a Taser is that it is a (predominantly) non-lethal means to impose the police officer's will over a person who is resisting. The more people are aware that Police Officers armed with a Taser will use it if they feel the need then the more of a deterrent value it has so hiding figures is counter productive. Unfortunately the current culture of hiding real information within a FUD cloud is so prevelant that they cannot see when it works against them.

The needs of the Media to gain readership by being the first to sensationalise a story of 'another good day to hide bad news' (present company not always excluded unfortunately) only serves to ensure that these lapses get higher visibility than telling the truth. Of course that assumes that anyone in power still knows how to tell the truth.

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Ash

Taser proof jackets for everyone!

That way, you can laugh heartily at the copper as he draws his stun gun...

... Until he shoots you in the pecker.

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warning shot

To deter the evil criminal, the taser should make some evil charging noise, something along the lines of

gwooooouuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii""""""""'''''

That should freeze them in place. Unless, of course, they remember the BFG and run like hell.

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Joke

Re: "Accuracy"

"Of course that assumes that anyone in power still knows how to tell the truth."

Even suggesting that is a possibility shows you have waaay too much faith in the current establishment....!

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@warning shot

Like the PPG in Babylon 5? If I ever hear that sound in real life I will probably hurl myself behind something.

I honestly don't mind Armed Response Units having tasers, because if you can avoid shooting someone by putting a taser in their knackers, then that's fine by me. But that's because over here we have a policy where only select officers are allowed guns and only allowed to deploy them when called on and given permission. Makes it more difficult - but not impossible* - to get the trigger-happy dickheads that come about in other countries.

I object to normal plods having them though, even if they have been trained. As we've seen, give someone a taser and they're likely to use it to avoid having to get stuck in in a less lethal manner. If a fight starts on a city street these days, the UK copper would collar the nearest offender and put them in the dirt, then cuff them. Worst injury to either party is likely to be a few bruises. Give the copper a taser, and he's likely to think "bugger this" and start zapping people. Which is potentially very dangerous.

*Brazillian electricians are vulnerable, for one.

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@ Kevin Johnston

I do partly agree with you.

What bothers me is that the definition of "a person who is resisting" seems to be getting looser and looser.

Just today there was a Reg article about an 82 year-old hospital inpatient being tased because he was holding a knife.

Don't you think the police are more likely to use significant force (because that's what a taser is) simply because they just can't be bothered to disarm situations peacefully?

And we must also remember that the assumption that a taser is non-lethal is anything but full-proof. There have been reported cases of deaths caused (or certainly precipitated by) the use of tasers and we should not ignore them.

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Paris Hilton

All good

All good in my book - with the 'accurate' recording of usages, and the marks to prove it, I'm sure it'll enable the Boys-in-Blue to disperse the pesky Yoofs of today with a short, sharp zap!

"Let that be a lesson, m'lad. Now, go on home and.." ZAP! "..be quick about it!"

All we need next is the amazing ID Cards :o)

Paris, because she'd get my truncheon anyday!

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So when I recover...

I'll walk into the copshop and find some officer and kick them so hard in their nuts, they'll migrate to their oesophagus.

Fuck 'em. The police have limited numbers and they have only the power we let them have.

Read "Nightwatch" (Terry Pratchett) for how this works.

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Oh, what shocking news !!

This electrifying information should reach a wider proportion of the population so they can be properly deterred. It is no use showing a laser rifle to a stone-age savage since he thinks his spear out-ranges you strange looking club !!

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A "non-lethal" device

until the public get them, at which point they would become horrifically brutal tools owned only by terrorists, torturers and violent killers.

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Coat

taser or gun

Hmmm..

Shot or taser???? Which would you prefer.

Stop the media panic - I'd prefer the police to use them, they have to protect themselves too. If someone is brandishing a knife at a policeman/woman then they have to defend themselves. If, when trying to 'get the knife' or whatever item it is off a person a 'ranged' shot from a taser would be safest for most people (even the person brandishing the weapon.

Mines the one with the earthing cable.....

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@ Andre Carneiro

>>And we must also remember that the assumption that a taser is non-lethal is anything but full-proof. There have been reported cases of deaths caused (or certainly precipitated by) the use of tasers and we should not ignore them.

First, just so you know, the term is "fool-proof", not "full-proof".

Secondly, your argument is flawed. By your same logic, a truncheon cannot be considered non-lethal, because if used on the neck, it will crush the windpipe and cause a person to suffocate.

In fact, your finger is a lethal weapon, because you could use it to poke someone REALLY HARD. Or you could choke them with it (assuming they don't bite it off, of course).

Likewise, under your logic, a firearm could NOT be considered lethal weapon because there have been reported cases of death NOT occurring after being shot.

Reductio ad absurdum.

See, this isn't a black and white thing. Barring improper operation of a taser, complicating medical factors (i.e. pacemaker, etc), the vast majority of the time, as taser is non-lethal, therefore it is considered a non-lethal weapon.

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Dead Vulture

Don't tase me, bro!

When it is becoming common to see videos of half a dozen cops standing over a downed victim - or should I say alleged perpetrator - and zapping him multiple times, it becomes obvious that the taser is the most abused weapon since the night-stick (applied in a dark alley). The new weapon of choice for today's coward on parade. (CoP)

TASER International states that no deaths have been directly caused by a taser, although they might have been "contributing causes". Last I heard, a mugger that scares someone with an existing heath problem to death, still gets charged for the death.

Cuts and bruises heal. A stopped heart, just because you were yelling at someone, could be more permanent.

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@ Mark

Cool. You go and do that. Then we get to watch you appear both on "Worlds funniest Penis Tazerings" and the inevitable spin-off "Worlds funniest ways to earn a savage police beating followed by a long prison sentence".

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Boffin

@ Andre Carneiro

You seem to be getting a little confused. The article is about police officers in England and Wales (for the geographically challenged that does not include Canada, Scotland nor Northern Ireland).

@ Mark

Any more of that nonsense and you'll shining somebody's toecaps with your gentleman's area and opening the the van door with your head!

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I want one of those

So that I can stun the scrotes that put a stone through my window while I was at work flogging my guts out to earn an honest crust as the police do bugger all

Wish they would taser the little bastards

I want the law changed so that I can buy one legally

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@Mark bzappity zap zap! zap! zap!

"So when I recover... I'll walk into the copshop and find some officer and kick them so hard in their nuts, they'll migrate to their oesophagus."

Bzzaap! zap! bzappity zap zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! bzappity zap zap! zap! bzappity zap zap! zap!

Report: Prisoner fell into a bin of tasers.

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Anonymous Coward

@Alex

"Now, go on home and.." ZAP! "..be quick about it!"

I think you're hard-pressed to be quick about anything after being ZAP!ped, Alex... :)

And @Mark... uh... a healthy skepticism of authority is a good idea, but... err... uh... where's your 'Joke Alert' icon? I hope you just forgot it.

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Coat

and their sister team

the "specially trained unit nightwatch" or STUN

I'm already out the door

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Specially Trained Unit

Whose definition of "special" and "trained" are we talking about?

Remember that these guys have lower academic entry requirements than a school sixth form and yet I have heard officers claim that policemen know as much about the law as a barrister would. I've then proceeded to demonstrate that they know less than a drunken physics graduate.

They also claim "If you've nothing to hide, then you've nothing to fear".

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"The unpleasant reality...

... that being a helpless prisoner leaves you open to abuse." As Iraq, so England.

And did those feet in ancient times ...?

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@David Wiernicki

No, I didn't forget the joke icon.

This sort of crap REALLY pisses me off. The police RELY on goodwill and they've pissed it up the wall at every opportunity. This is one major reason why when there's a fight, the plod turn up in a van or five to outnumber the people causing a problem. It would be unnecessary if people felt the police were on their side, but since we all know they aren't, we won't lift finger to help if the policeman gets in over their head.

Heck, some may join in. If they tazered someone unarmed, I would.

And for the rest of you:

"Any more of that nonsense and you'll shining somebody's toecaps with your gentleman's area and opening the the van door with your head!"

"Worlds funniest Penis Tazerings"

SEE! EVERYONE knows that the police are a bunch of thugs, incapable of maintaining the kings peace (which is their remit). It's just that some plonkers think it's funny. Like getting ass-raped when you're in jail. Yeah, side-splitting humour! NOT.

THIS is what the police pissed up the wall. The public don't trust them and know that in any altercation, the police WILL go OTT and get away with it scott free.

All because the police now see their rights as a privilege and not a responsibility.

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RE: Shot or taser???? Which would you prefer.

How about "neither"?

How about: trained officer disables my ability to fight with a technique called "Holding on".

Some people laud the police saying "but they've got a dangerous job: they could get knifed!". Well, no not if as soon as someone waves one at them they zap them to the ground, they won't.

Heck we could get grannies and OAPs (after bypass optional) to wield them and since they're going to be willing to work cheap, we don't need the paid plod. I mean, if three mounties can't risk confrontation with a bedridden 82-year-old man, 82-year old men must be well hard.

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@@Mark bzappity zap zap! zap! zap!

"So when I recover... I'll walk into the copshop and find some officer and kick them so hard in their nuts, they'll migrate to their oesophagus."

Bzzaap! zap! bzappity zap zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! zap! bzappity zap zap! zap! bzappity zap zap! zap!

Report: Prisoner fell into a bin of tasers.

SO how then do you explain the other bruises and the night stick that's hanging out of his ass ???

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Coat

@Michael

"...a firearm could NOT be considered lethal weapon because there have been reported cases of death NOT occurring..."

But what about the Lethal* cannabis!?

Ah, the one with the cattle prod and fine old Jamaican in the pocket please...

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Dead Vulture

@Michael

"In fact, your finger is a lethal weapon, because you could use it to poke someone REALLY HARD. Or you could choke them with it (assuming they don't bite it off, of course)."

You did know, didn't you, that a professional boxer's fists are considered deadly weapons if they assault someone?

These officers are supposed to be trained in these techniques of self-defense and submission holds.

PS I always figured "resisting arrest" to be a bloody stupid charge. Who WON'T resist arrest? Either

a) they done it and don't want to be arrested

b) they don't think what they did deserved arrest

and, since you're going to get them for the action you arrested them in the first place, seems rather like over-egging the pudding a little.

PPS someone please show me where "tasering until your balls crackle then arrest you" is the correct punishment for an assault on police officer. Me, I was under the impression it was "arrest, go to court and maybe jail". Old-fashioned little old me...

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IT Angle

Joking right?

Oh come off it, the reason the police turn up and out number people 5 to 1 is because of people who seem to think they shouldn't respect them. Its a hard and necessary job and someone has to do it, peoples view like this is just trivial..

How about we put all the "**** the police brigade" onto an Island with all society's miscreants and thugs and see how long they last until they change their minds..

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Coat

Two Units?

That seems a waste of tax payer's money, having two different units who use them, presumably with different training methods too. They should merge Special Training Units (STUs) and Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) into a new single unit; Specially Trained Firearms Units, or STFUs.

Mines the one with mittens pinned to the back and tomato sauce on the front...

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Stop

@babz - respect is a two way street

Those is positions of authority should respect those who they have authority over, and this will lead to respect in return. Think back to your school days.... I bet your favourite teacher was the one that listened to you and responded intelligently to your opinions.... the one that showed you respect.

The police should respect the general public, but they do not any more and treat everyone as "suspects".... but with so many out-of-date or vague laws on the books these days most people are probably guilty of something. So is it any wonder people don't respect the police by default.... they don't respect us by default.

One day you or someone you care about will be on the wrong end of police persecusion, and your opinion will grow up. But until then, you'll come across as a hate-filled Daily Mail reader!

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Flame

Hype Hype Hooray!

Wow, this thread reads like an inverse Daily Mail and is about as balanced and reasoned. I’m afraid it smacks of that special “well everybody knows” wisdom that the Mail tends to adopt when it wants to damn asylum seekers, gypsies, Muslims, hoodies or anyone else they care to defame.

Outside of the Metropolitan areas the only way you’re likely to become outnumbered by the cops is during pre-planned events because, for the most part, they’re spread so thin on the ground they have no real effect. For example, it’s not that unusual to have just 5 night duty officers for the whole of South Bucks where once there would have been in excess of 50; and its like this right across the country.

The fact is that the majority of shift officers are still within their first 3-4 years service and desperately inexperienced, their average age is 22 and 50% of them are female. That 1970’s recruitment bulge are now retiring and large swathes of the remainder have either emigrated or left early. In many towns today the cops are outnumbered by PCSOs and that’s a real scandal.

This new breed of young cops, ‘The 12 year Olds’, now represents the majority of most Forces and are utterly indoctrinated with political correctness and career development; they are certainly no match for the relentless yobbery that blights so many estates and town centres and the yobs know that.

They go out of their way to avoid any confrontation and are not remotely equipped to deal with violence. They certainly can’t handle it themselves; does anyone really believe that 2 days annual Officer Safety Training days even remotely equates with “trained in these techniques of self-defence and submission holds”? They’re absolutely petrified of receiving any complaints and act more like Social Workers than Police Officers. Battering handcuffed prisoners? Get real, they’d be petrified.

The modern Police Force may be facing a looming crisis, the tragedy is that those in charge are utterly blinkered and can’t see it coming - but this has nothing to do with all of that bilious invective spouted above. They’d rather please the press than enforce the law. If the Police are unable to protect themselves the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

There is a whole country outside London people, stop falling for the hype and see what’s really going on – there’s plenty to be depressed about it’s just not what you think it is.

But then I’m probably wasting my breath when so many of you really think you ‘know’ what’s going on.

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Anonymous Coward

So....

SO if your going to do something that might get you tasered, a nice thick piece of leather under your jacket should ward these things off nicely. Then you can kick em where it hurts!

Ordinary police simply should not be using these things-they cannot be trusted not to abuse them. A quick google will give lots of cases of unecesary tazering.

The police get exactly the ammount of respect they deserve.

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Pirate

Time for self defense

If I ever (not likely) find myself on the receiving end of a taser, I will make bloody sure I have something to defend myself with. Count on it.

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Unhappy

definition of "resisting"

I saw a guy get tasered in Clapham last week (fuzzy on details, but I think it was twice - he was a big guy...)

He was blatantly so drunk / high / something that he probably didn't really understand what was going on... Not so much resisting as not struggling to comprehend..

It seemed a bit harsh to me, as did the 10 police people who sat on him for the next 10 minutes till they could cart him off.

Hope he's ok.

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Paris Hilton

Impressive Research....

Nice to see the Goverment charade exposed for the smokescreen that it is, I like the true in depth research carried out here. and wish to see other news organisations doing better! Everyone know the government spins faster than a Pentadyne UPS (or an electron for that matter..), so its good when it is all unravelled and laid bare! Good work young padawan.

Paris Because...

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@two-way respect AC

The problem is that we're bombarded by these ridiculous laws that criminalize everyone. Which means that the chances are you ARE a criminal; we're cautious around the police because it'd just take one wrong comment and they could pull you in for _something_.

Also aren't you saying the same thing as Babz, or at least something complementary? If people actually respected the police and their ability to sort out problems- preventing further disturbances- their job would be far easier.

We should get rid of most of the ridiculous reactionary laws that have been added over the last few years. Also, a "Book of Law" that's available to all citizens and visitors would be a good investment for the government- showing exactly what is legal and what isn't. Complete with case studies where applicable... did I just re-invent the Bible?

Seriously, though, Tasers are a good thing. They mean theres less chance of damage to the police and their equipment, and less chance of some "I'm dead hard, me" twat getting away. And, of course, less chance of serious injury than a clobbering with a nightstick. Though being able to change it between "knock down" (single short shock) and "'til the balls crackle" (almost constant on) modes would be very, very useful.

Still gonna get the tinfoil armour out, though!

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@Babz

"How about we put all the "**** the police brigade" onto an Island with all society's miscreants and thugs and see how long they last until they change their minds.."

Assuming you're using the government's definition of "miscreant" - and it doesn't sound like you're the type to question it - the island would contain almost the entire population of Britain. We'd be surrounded by, shock horror, pot-smokers, political protestors, farmers, nihilistic poetry-writing teenagers, fox-hunters, people who use their own judgement when driving, people prepared to physically defend themselves, people who use pornography, people who occasionally get caught short after a night out, people who carry a Swiss Army knife, need I go on. What a terrifying prospect.

I suppose we'd have a slightly higher proportion of thugs, rapists and murderers in this crime-ridden island paradise, of course. But it would be a lot easier to deal with them in a society free of the sanctimonious, holier than thou twats that can't differentiate between "moral" and "legal", think "more laws = less crime", and have plunged us into the mess we're in now.

Where did you say your island was? And where can I buy a plane ticket to it?

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@Spleen

Spot on!

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bad bad bad

I like the comments about people getting paranoid. Lest you forget there have been several incidents where cops have shot the wrong guy, it doesnt matter if he just wanted to ride the tube at stockwell or was carrying his table leg home from the pub... give a man a weapon and some will abuse it. I'm a shooter myself and we all know the police are bad shots and trigger happy we have some that shoot with us just to get better training than offered at work.

There was an "incident" involvind a barrister in london a couple of weeks ago, the police said he was firing a shotgun and that "a" firearm was removed afterwards but when the police executed him, they said they couldnt tell if he was shot with a shotgun or a police bullet. HELLO!?! you cant tell the difference between a 5.56mm NATO round and 500 tiny pellets in the face? He was executed, and here is the next firearms cover up by the police.

My opinion, they should be fitted with cameras that record everything from the moment they are removed from the holster. Police must radio in the problem and OBTAIN PERMISSION to taser just as they must do with a firearm. It then has to be logged afterwards.

I can personally see this being abused ,especially given the fact the current government likes to pull insane laws from their behind and enforce them like Asbo's for being too loud during sex!

Oi whatever your doing just stop that.........TZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZz

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@Reid Malenfant

I don't know what you're trying to say here. You lambast myself and other similar points but then show that this lack of respect and equal reaction are a rational decision.

The police you maintain are undertrained and ill equipped physically and mentally for the job they are meant to do.

So, basically, they are people no different from the "us" that includes hoodie-wearing thugs but they are given a stab-proof vest and debilitation device AND the powers to use it without serious chance of being brought to task.

Given that, isn't deciding that the police are a waste of space (undertrained and ill equipped) and therefore that their arming is dangerous to each and every member of the public, isn't that a sensible conclusion?

The job the police are supposed to be doing IS dangerous and often unpleasant. Unfortunately, the police DEMAND respect and don't actually do the job they are supposed to be doing. Partly because arresting someone dissing you but otherwise a law-abiding member of the public is a fair bit safer than picking on someone whose job it is is to break people's arms to get money from them.

I feel I *should* respect the police. But I can't. And I can't because of the actions of the police.

And that's damn annoying.

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Unhappy

@ Mark

All people by default ought to have some basic respect for one another, call it common courtesy or politeness; I think of it as social lubricant. Police officers cant function without it.

The UK Police are a civilian body and by definition are “citizens locally appointed”; so yes they are “us” and always have been, that was the whole point of their inception. Their essential job description is, in order of priority: “The preservation of life and property, the maintenance of order and the prevention and detection of crime”. And that, by and large, is what the vast majority of them endeavour to do, even the youngest most inexperienced.

The job can indeed be dangerous and unpleasant; it can also be boring, hilariously funny, rewarding, frustrating, exciting, depressing and exhilarating. Dependent on the Force (there are 43) and local demographics, the nature of job and the number of different roles within it, can vary enormously, usually far more than most people realise. There’s certainly no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all cop and to pretend there is, is at best, naive.

Sadly, many people today seem locked into several fixed stereotypes, and like all stereotypes, they can become enthusiastically reinforced by selective (and often inaccurate) news coverage, uninformed speculation (the Daily Mail anybody?) and the constant drip feed of TV and movie fiction. But haven’t we all learned yet that stereotypes seldom reflect reality, particularly on an individual basis? Any inner-city teenaged black kid will tell you that with far more eloquence than I.

I have personally had a number of very violent and unpleasant experiences (including 2 attempted murders) with black youths and, based on so many of the “I once saw a cop doing …. therefore they all etc” arguments, I ought to now be pre-judging all Afro-Caribbean’s accordingly but I don’t because I know better and can recognise a stereotype when I see one; sadly, this does not seem true for most of the above including yourself.

You say that ‘the Police’ don’t actually do the job they’re supposed to be doing, but that’s absolute nonsense and manifestly incorrect, in any event, it is now almost entirely demand led. For the vast majority, the workload is relentless and is embraced with an enthusiasm borne of job satisfaction and social conscience. There are over 140,000 of them, that you seem content to selectively allow individual events to rubbish them all is both a facetious and disingenuous standpoint. It’s certainly not an argument that would hold much water in any other discussion.

Yes, individuals can and do indeed do stupid and inappropriate things from time to time, I certainly have and so probably have you but you try and learn from them and move on. Hell’s teeth, Doctors murder patients, Bankers embezzle, Solicitors steal money and Builder’s wreck extensions, does that mean they’re all rubbish?

My greatest concern, however, is the acute loss of experience coupled with the Home Office’s overly-enthusiastic embrace of PCSO’s – and I mean no disrespect to any of them reading this – the consequences are already being felt on the streets. That and much of the muddled thinking that emanates from the Bramshill Police Staff College (ACPO training) and the Home Office in general. Much of the law we're given to enforce is shocking and ill-conceived but, quite rightly, we have no direct control over that.

Half hearted policing on the cheap is no substitute for the real thing and, as I already mentioned, many of the yobs are realising this and are gradually ‘upping the anti’ in many areas across the country. It is no longer unusual to find weapons and Class-A drug stashes in housing estates and a ready willingness to resort to extreme violence and intimidation over mere trivia. In the first half of my 33 year career I encountered murder rarely, in my current role, it’s now a weekly event (well twice this week already). And if we stop coping with it, what hope do you have?

I fear for the future.

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Pirate

@ Bad Bad Bad

The chair leg man is interesting, I stand to be corrected but as I recall, he went to the pub and managed to convince a number of people he was indeed carrying a sawn-off shotgun wrapped in a bin bag and brandished it accordingly. It certainly had the same essential silhouette as one. Those that knew him there believed that it was indeed a very credible threat and called the police because he left them with the impression that he was off to use it.

So an ARV was deployed to find a man carrying a sawn-off in a bin-bag and it was not very long before they found him. When he came around the corner they were both on foot and out in the open, well within a sawn-off’s likely killing range. Believing he was armed, they put in a challenge and told him to put it down but instead he turned, grasped the bin bag as if it did indeed contain a shotgun and brought it up on aim with the inevitable consequences.

Now, what would you do if you genuinely believed that you were about to be shot, had the means to prevent your immanent death and had a fraction of a second to make your decision? These were certainly the circumstance the two officers believed they were in. They had no time, nor previous opportunity, to do anything else to avoid the situation. Both of them shot and given that these were indeed the correct circumstances so would I and, if you were honest, so probably would most of you too.

It was unfortunate for all concerned but life is seldom as clear cut as we’d it to be and, no matter what checks and balances you attempt to impose on ANY system, shit will still happen. Only for armed plods, the results are invariably more consequential than a data loss or cancelled contract.

Not so clear cut as the above rant would imply is it?

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Coat

@ AC - Bad, bad, bad.

That ‘trigger happy’ cliché always makes me smile and yet still it persists. In my Force we’ve been carrying firearms for decades, every day - 24/7. At any one time there are a number of pre-planned operations that necessitate the issue of firearms not counting the growing number of ARV (Armed response Unit) deployments.

Each month there are a number of overt 'rapid interventions' and 'hard stops' during which offenders are arrested, many in possession of firearms themselves. There’s a small army of Protection Officers, Tactical Support Group officers, ARV and ASVs, Firearms Instructors and a few others and events certainly keep us very busy.

Many thousands of man-hours (oops person-hours) have been expended on armed operational commitments and, as always, the fundamental plan is to try to prevent anyone having to shoot at all (both us and ‘them’) – and I have to say we’ve become rather adept at this.

I’m afraid that I only have a detailed awareness of the last 40 years but in all that time only 2 shots have ever been fired in anger.

On what planet does 2 shots in 40 years actually count as trigger happy?

I'll get my BPV.

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@Reid Malenfant

Well said...! Spot on, except for where you state: "The modern Police Force may be facing a looming crisis..." - in fact, that should be: "... *IS* facing a looming crisis...".

The Edmond Davies bump has already arrived, and can be seen from the retirement details in any force's "weekly orders". I live in the borough of Crewe & Nantwich, where the Labour candidate is openly advocating increases in powers for Community Support Officers - so much for assurances that this wasn't going to be "two-tier policing" or "policing on the cheap". Incidentally, if the Cheshire Police Authority (with the lowest policing precept of any shire force in England and Wales) is capped at 5%, as the Government has already indicated will happen, it means the loss of another 192 regular officers - and police numbers have already started falling across the UK.

If this lot's understanding of policing is on a par with their understanding of spelling and grammar (for God's sake, there's spell-checking for submissions to El Reg!), you are wasting your time anyway... there seems to be no appreciation that, as a consequence of this Government's "performance" targets, what gets measured gets done - so the stuff that they are moaning about isn't going to be addressed because the shortcomings further down the criminal justice process mean there's no point in wasting resources on a short-term fix when it uses up scarce resources but counts for nothing in performance terms. That's why cannabis warning "detections" are up significantly - they count as "offences brought to justice" in the game that the Government makes the police play. Don't blame the police - they don't make the "performance" rules but they are held to account by those rules.

So, yes, the UK is going to get the policing that it deserves... just at the time when the Home Secretary is openly encouraging the police to harass a specific section of the community (those who refuse to behave and obey the law): "Nobody should have to accept neighbourhood thugs" http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/news/no-more-asb

Ermmm... what's all that about, our Jacqui? Have you asked your colleague, Harriet Harperson, about that? When she was a legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, she spent tens of thousands of pounds trying to get police officers disciplined or charged with criminal offences for doing just what you are now advocating... so what's changed? The appearance of "New Labour"?

Maybe our Jacqui has finally realised just what deep shit we are now all in as a result of the Human Rights Act, and if so, maybe she is now desperately trying to get the genie back in the bottle, but it's too late... God help us all...

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Silver badge

Perspective

I think people need to get some perspective here. Whilst there may be some bad policemen (there are in any profession), the vast majority are actually good and operating under extreme pressure. Society is becoming more violent, their hands are becoming more tied and they are attacked within the press etc. at every opportunity. Politicians tinker around with laws all the time introducing loads more to understand and enforce, the current vogue being making them so vague, interpretation and a certain amount of miss-use is inevitable.

As for the mistakes. Whilst accepting that the result was in error, it is not this that defines the actions as good or bad, but the circumstances etc. leading to it and what people believed. In the Stockwell Tube shotting, the officers on the ground were told that the man was definately the bomber. They were led to believe he probably had the bomb on and was on the way to using it. Therefore, when asked to stop him, they believed they were dealing with a man wearing a bomb vest, very willing to use it etc. Common sense would probably tell people to run in the opposite direction, but they ran towards him and used lethal force to prevent the detonation of the bomb they believed him to be carrying. The number of rounds fired is irrelevant. You use as many as is necessary to ensure the person can't detonate the bomb and then add a few for safety. So, the issue here is not the people pulling the trigger, but the whole inept chain of command that ran the operation so ineptly that the people on the ground were lef to believe a complete fantasy. In reality, he had not been positively identified etc.etc. So, don't blame the shooters, but the senior commanders etc.

The same can be said of many of the other instances. Circumstances can lead to life and dealth decisions being made in a split second, often with inadequate or wrong information available. Under these circumstances, mistakes will be made. It doesn't necessarily make the person pulling the trigger a bad person, simply someone that tried to make the best decision he could and got it wrong. The fact the result was in error doesn't necessarily mean the actions or events leading up to it were wrong. Also, people need to understand that being drunk and refusing to obey armed officers is simply not a good idea.

Armed officers are putting themselves in harms way under very restrictive rules of engagement. There are many components of the decision making process that are far from satisfactory in these circumstances. The extreme stress normally present at the time, the lack of information (sometimes), the testosterone and adrenalin surging through their bodies etc.etc. None of these are known as catalysts for good decisions, but they are normally present. It's very easy to judge in the cold light of day, or a comfortable courtroom, but much harder to do it for real. Erring on the side of caution is understandable.

The difference with the use of tasers is that often they are used when these factors are not present. The Canadian hospital patient is a good example. The circumstances were such that a sensible, considered decision should have been possible. Indeed, this is a very good reason why tasers are of limited operational relevance. According to the guidelines, tasers are only supposed to be used when the alternative is lethal force i.e. firearms. However, if you are in a situation when firearms are justified, you or someone else must be in immediate danger. In these circumstances, you'll probably want someone more reliable and certain than a taser e.g. a firearm. In circumstances when you have more time etc. to make a considered decision, tasers are not supposed to be used!!

So, what people are afraid of, and there's a lot of evidence to support it, is that tasers are being used outside the guidelines and when other methods would have been used in the past. Whether this is right or not should be a matter of a public debate, but the government are not good at this. They only talk to people who support their position!!

If you have to confront a knifeman, is a taser a suitable method of disarming him? Possibly. However, as has been shown by stories from around the world, rather than being a considered option, it is often the default assumption and therefore used when not appropriate. Again, the hospital patient in Canada is a good example. Additionally, if a non-ranged use occurs, this rather defies the purpose of a taser. The point of a taser (generally) is that you can disable a person without getting too close. So, if your within arms length (and a non-ranged use mandates this), you've already put yourself at risk!!

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Re: Perspective

The problem is that the decent majority (even if it isn't the vast majority) do not oust the bad minority (even if they are a significant minority). And as to the Stockwell tube incident, I would point you to the following:

a) seven rounds at the head while holding him down

b) lying like shit when caught out

(a) would be understandable overreaction if the officer knew people hurt in the 7/7 attacks but would also indicate that the officer(s) involved did not show the required professional calm we should demand from our armed officers.

(b) shows that they had no remorse at being wrong. They were, however, adamant at showing everyone they were right.

And when you have the London Met Chief (I think it was) saying that in the fight against terror, a few innocent deaths was an acceptable problem, I say NO. There's no difference between being killed by a religious nut or our armed officers. However, we meet far more officers than religious nuts of that calibre. So death is NOT acceptable.

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Mark

In response to the Stockwell incident:-

a) Perfectly reasonable. A suicide bomber could have the trigger anywhere. If a suicide bomber has the bomb on, the only way to make him safe is to kill him. Period. Suppose they held him and whilst stuggling lost grip for a second. He then detonates it. You can't take that risk. Also, even the most professional person would be scared in that circumstance and the difference between 4 and 7 rounds doesn't come into it in that case. If the objective is to kill, the number of rounds is also irrelevant. 1 or 7, the effect desired is the same and it is the desire that counts.

b) Agreed. Very bad. However, a lot of this, although not all, was from senior commanders. Also, as soon as they realised it was the wrong person, they knew they were going to be ripped apart regardless of the rights and wrongs of their actions.

Professional calm is a great theory, but in those circumstances, I defy anyone to be completely detached, professional and calm etc. With that amount of testosterone and adrenalin surging through your body, it simply isn't going to happen regardless of the amount of training etc.

The Met chief should have resigned over the incident, as I believe he knew he was telling untruths. However, I'm sure he would disagree. However, as I said before, the moral difference is the intent, not the effect. A terrorists intent is to kill people, probably innocent. A police officers intent (and hopefully theirs) is to protect the public and themselves, which might involve killing someone. A whole different intent and therefore a whole different set of morals. The fact that it ended up with the same effect is not relevant.

In defence of the Met chief, he was actually right in that comment. A few innocent deaths are inevitable. That's not to say we shouldn't do everything we can to minimise it, but it is fantasy land to assume nobody will accidently get killed.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Mark (who else?)

Mark, when were you last in prison?

It seems to me that you did not have a happy time, am I right?

Your previous post read:

"SEE! EVERYONE knows that the police are a bunch of thugs, incapable of maintaining the kings peace (which is their remit). It's just that some plonkers think it's funny. Like getting ass-raped when you're in jail. Yeah, side-splitting humour! NOT."

I have to bow to your superior knowledge of bottom related antics but I can tell you a tale from a few years ago.

Two young lads ended up getting nicked for a series of burglaries. They were 17 or 18 and got sent to a Young Offenders Institute. One had been there before the other hadn't. The one that hadn't approached me a few months later to say that he had been repeatedly raped whilst inside and was now very definitely on the straight and narrow. His more experienced mate had apparently offered him up to 'the big boys' to divert their attention. There really is no honour amongst thieves.

The truly bad lad of the two got what he may have deserved though. Within a year he was diagnosed with cancer and had a bone marrow transplant. We knicked him limping away from a burglary within a day or two of the transplant. His mum genuinely thought he was in bed recovering! It was terminal.

Some people just do not stop, be they burglars, thugs etc etc.

The Taser will be used as the last resort more often than not.

Here's a scenario for you. You are a copper instructed to perform a foot patrol with a shift mate in a in a busy city or town centre. You know where the trouble spots are and walk around a corner to be confronted with two lads scrapping. They are both pissed. One ends up on the floor with the other one kicking him in the head. The kicker is built like a brick shit house and you are barely out of short trousers. Your mate goes to assist the one on the floor and ends up getting knocked down and kicked. You both had a baton, pepper spray/CS and you are lucky enough to have been trained to use Taser. What would you do?

Pissed up arseholes from the nearby pub have heard the commotion and are now coming out for a look. Your mate is getting a serious kicking now as someone else has joined in. Two down, one of them is your mate. What would you do?

Some back up has arrived. The original injured party has run off to fight another day. Your mate has managed to get up and is helped away as his asssailant is Tasered by you. A Register user happens to be passing by and sees an innocent person singled out from the crowd by a group of coppers, for no apparent reason and Tasered. You bastard!

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@Mad Mike

a) If someone is being sat on, arms away from body, WHY SEVEN SHOTS?

And he didn't just say that a few deaths were inevitable but that they were an acceptable price to pay. No.

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