Police in Cambridgeshire ask the question to residents: Should all officers on the front line be armed with Tasers?
PUBLISHED: 10:14 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:55 21 August 2019
Cambs Cops / PA Wire / PA Archive
Could police in Cambridgeshire be the next force in the UK to arm all of their front line officers with Tasers?
In a recent social media poll, Cambs Cops asked their 60,000 Facebook followers if they should equip their officers with the conducted electrical weapon.
Within just six hours, more than 5,300 residents have responded to the survey and it reveals that 93 per cent of people think they should be armed with Tasers.
The news follows an announcement from Northamptonshire Police this afternoon (August 20) that they will be issuing all 1,044 officers with the gun-shaped device.
According to the BBC, the force revealed it had seen almost a 50 per cent increase in attacks on police officers in the past two years.
Cambs Cops' poll also follows the death of PC Andrew Harper in Berkshire as he responded to reports of a burglary. Just weeks after getting married.
Residents have taken to the comment section of the poll, with more than 270 people discussing if it would be a good move for police in the region.
One person said: "In the nicest possible way, yes they should.
"There are not as many police around as there realistically should be due to budget cuts and as crime is changing, so should the police to adapt to it."
Another added: "Firearms should be kept to specially recruited and trained officers, and the UK has some of the best trained in the world at it.
"But tasers should be standard issue for all trained officers, the threat level, type of attacks and regularity of attacks has changed in recent years.
"A baton or pepper spray is only effective when the attacker is pretty much right next to you.
A taser can be deployed when the attacker is 5 to 10 feet away which give the officer a safety zone to operate in."
In January this year, Home Office figured showed that officers in our region were using their Tasers more often.
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It was revealed they drew the weapon 149 times between April 2017 and March 2018. Of those, they fired the Taser on 16 occasions, or 11 per cent of the time.
The rest of the time the weapon was used to threaten suspects, and in 98 cases officers aimed and partially activated the Taser so a red target dot appeared on the person.
Stats show the use of Tasers by Cambridgeshire Police has risen by 60 per cent over the last year. Officers fired their Tasers eight times in 2017-18.
Earlier this year, Oliver Feeley-Sprague of Amnesty UK, said the public should "resist drum-beat of calls for all police to carry a Taser".
"Amnesty recognises that the police have a duty to protect the public and themselves from harm, but we've got serious concerns about the use of Tasers becoming the norm for day-to-day policing," he explained.
"Coroners have pointed to the use of a Taser as a key factor in the deaths of two people in the UK, but it's likely Taser use was a factor in many more deaths. The Taser is a potentially lethal weapon and should be treated accordingly.
"We're particularly concerned at the alarming rise in over-use against vulnerable and minority groups, including on people with mental health issues and BAME people."
Police say currently only trained officers in Cambridgeshire carry X26 models of Taser, a bright yellow pistol-shaped device.
They are designed to temporarily disable a person through an electrical current. Officers can only consider using it if they believe there is an imminent use or threat of violence.
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.
The force's X26 voltage tasers peak at 50,000 volts and this reduces dramatically when it reaches the body.
Across England and Wales, Tasers were used more than 17,000 times in 2017-18, compared with 11,300 incidents in 2016.However they were only fired 99 times.
In Cambridgeshire, police used force against suspects on 4,562 occasions over the 12 month period.
This includes forcibly handcuffing someone, hitting a suspect with a baton and using pepper spray.
What do you think? Should all police officers in Cambridgeshire be armed with a Taser? Let us know via email: firstname.lastname@example.org