Further details have emerged about plans to equip more police with tasers, with the Home Affairs Minister saying the move to let officers use them at their own “discretion” would give officers more choice in dealing with violence, and the rising number of mental health crisis call-outs.
Constable Len Norman’s new proposals for the deployment and use of tasers are set to be debated by States Members on 8 September.
They were published yesterday after Express revealed that the Home Affairs Department had been working on the plans for the last 12 months alongside Police.
At the moment, tasers can only be deployed alongside firearms if an accredited Firearms Commander has authorised it.
However, the Home Affairs Minister is seeking to change this. Under his plans, police officers who have completed a relevant course could be allowed to use a taser at their own discretion.
Pictured: The Home Affairs Minister, St. Clement Constable Len Norman.
Despite the changes proposed, the use of tasers will continue to be supervised and will need to be justified and compliant with all existing legislation and associated College of Policing Guidelines.
In a report accompanying his proposals, Constable Norman said that since tasers were introduced in the island, the force has demonstrated the highest levels of responsibility in their use, with tasers being fired on five occasions only.
“It is used sparingly and only fired in a minority of cases,” he wrote.
“Taser is a good tool for the police because it increases the range of tactical options available and it provides a ‘less lethal’ option than firearms when responding to dangerous incidents.”
Pictured: Tasers have been used on five occasions since 2014.
The Minister described the current arrangements as “problematic” adding they would benefit from improvement.
He explained his proposition would allow “more uniformed police officers, who have completed a Taser course to the national standard, to carry and deploy Taser without a specific firearms authority”.
He then went on to explain that while Jersey is relatively safe, the nature of policing in the island is changing, with officers regularly attending a range of incidents including assaults, domestic abuse, and theft.
He also said that officers are being called to more and more incidents involving mental health issues such as self-harm - some of which can be violent, and even present a risk to life, serious injury to people or significant damage to property.
Having a taser in those situations would increase the range of tactical options available to officers, enabling officers “to minimise risk and maximise the safety of those involved".
Pictured: The report argued tasers can be more effective than firearms, as they “can safely resolve dangerous situations without being fired."
The report argued tasers would be more effective than physical restraint or using pepper spray, batons or firearms, as they “can safely resolve dangerous situations without being fired”.
“SOJP officers using Taser have resolved an incident without firing the Taser in 98% of uses,” the report noted.
“These statistics suggest that Taser is an efficient and effective tool dealing with high risk incidents and ensuring a relatively peaceful and safe resolution to the incident for the public and police alike.
“Indeed, in the majority of cases involving Taser, the mere threat of its use has been enough to defuse a situation and ensure a peaceful resolution of the incident.”
Pictured: The proposals would allow the force to "increase the range of tactical options available to it".
The City of London Police who reviewed the force’s firearms capability in 2017 recommended the expansion of the use of tasers, describing the current regulations as “laces an unacceptable risk to the officers who are left with no alternative than to potentially self-deploy at incidents of serious violence which would not attract an authority”.
The Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel has already announced it will be reviewing the proposals, with a Scoping Document and Terms of Reference having already been compiled.
“Changing how Tasers are deployed would allow the SOJP to increase the range of tactical options available to it and provide a ‘less lethal’ option than other firearms when responding to violent incidents,” the Home Affairs Minister said, explaining the rationale for his proposals.
“The use of Taser will always revolve around the need to minimise any risk and maximise the safety of those involved, with the overarching principle being to save and preserve life.”
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