A taser is a device designed to temporarily disable a person through an electrical current.
Tasers are used by trained officers when dealing with a violent offender who is some distance away. We use X26 tasers that are a similar shape and size to a pistol, but are bright yellow in colour.
Officers using tasers
If an officer believes there is an imminent use or threat of violence, they may consider using a taser. The term ‘use of taser’ will include any of the following actions by our officers;
- Drawn - removed from holster
- Red dot - the taser has a laser that allows the officer to mark the subject with a red dot. This tells the officer that they are on target and also lets the offender know they are being targeted
- Arced - this aims to deter a suspect. It is achieved when the officer squeezes the trigger without the cartridge attached and the electric current flows through the end of the taser. An audible and visual display of electricity crackling across through the taser can be seen and heard.
- Fired - this is when the cartridge is attached and the taser delivers an electrical charge to the body.
- Drive stun - this is where there is no cartridge attached. Arcing electricity at the front of the taser is required to make contact with the subject’s body or clothing before a shock results. This requires the front of the taser to be pressed against the person.
- Angled drive stun - tasers are designed to safely disable a person from a distance, yet sometimes the offender can get too close. On such an occasion, an officer can incapacitate an offender by carrying out an angled drive stun which involves activating the loaded taser close to the subject’s body and then placing the taser against another part of the body to disable them.
Visit the National Police Chief’s Council websiteto find out more.
After-effects of tasers
Tasers can work on two levels; psychologically and physically.
- Psychologically - tasers are yellow and black, so they stand out. The light of the laser allows officers to accurately aim the taser, as well as give a clear warning to the individual they’re targeting. This causes most people to surrender without the need to fire the taser, as the presence is usually enough to bring the situation to an end.
- Physically - when fired, a taser delivers a sequence of very short high voltage pulses that result in the temporary loss of voluntary muscle control, causing the suspect to fall to the ground or freeze. Our X26 voltage tasers peak at 50,000 volts and this reduces dramatically when it reaches the body.
Taser use statistics
Each time an officer uses or intends to use their taser, they must justify their actions and demonstrate that they’ve considered all other tactical options. Every use of a taser is recorded and reviewed and are reported to the Home Office in detail.
In order for us to be open and transparent, we publish statistics of taser use as part of our quarterly Use of Force data.
Officer taser training
All officers who use tasers have passed a four day training course to become a qualified taser operator. Taser training involves a detailed assessment on;
- decision making
- scenario based incidents
- the use of force
- The medical implications of a taser.
Before attending a taser training course, officers must have been recommended via a strict selection process and be up to date with their First Aid and Personal Safety Training.