‘Sometimes it’s enough to make violent people come quietly’: Police chief defends decision to more than double number of taser-armed officers

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A police chief has defended Thames Valley Police’s decision to more than double the number of officers armed with taser electric stun guns.

The number of officers trained to use the controversial weapons will increase by 280 to 485 in the Autumn.

But Assistant Chief Constable John Campbell said this is only a small number of the force’s officers, 11%, and that people will not be seeing an armed officer on every street corner.

Mr Campbell said: “In normal circumstances people will never come into contact with an officer armed with a taser.

“Tasers are an effective piece of equipment that allows us to bring violent people under control and minimise harm to the public, police and the offenders.”

Currently only Thames Valley firearms officers use tasers, but other officers will now be trained to carry them.

The move comes after a rise in incidents where firearms officers have had to provide support to unarmed colleagues. Over the past three years the number of times taser-armed officers have been called to incidents has increased from 795 in 2010, to 842 in 2011 and 936 in 2012. Despite this, the number of times they have been discharged is low. Tasers were only fired 16 times in 2012 in incidents where officers armed with them were deployed.

Mr Campbell said: “Sometimes the presence of taser at an incident is enough to make the offender behave differently and come quietly.”

Taser-armed officers will be spread across the force area.