Taser’s first use

A Taser gun has been used for the first time in Northern Ireland. It was used last week to subdue a man who had locked himself in his house in Galliagh in Londonderry along with his two young children. The gentleman was subsequently detained under the Mental Health Order. His sister subsequently supported the use of the weapon. Sinn Fein and the SDLP have both opposed the use of these devices whilst the DUP has supported them. Martina Anderson has called for an “exhaustive investigation” by the Police Ombusdman. Here is Pete Baker’s blog from when the devices were first introduced and here is the equality impact assessment of Tasers.

  • The Raven

    Martina writes “I am also concerned that Derry appears to be the testing ground for new police weaponry.”

    There’s a witty comment to be made in there! Anybody else spent a Saturday night in the town recently….?

    But seriously, folks….

    I wonder at what point the “talk-him-down” scenario switches to the use of the taser? (I am only asking because I don’t know – does anyone here?)

    Also, I wonder what alternatives are suggested to tasers, when someone who is detained under the Mental Health Act has sequestered himself in a locked room with two youngsters?

    Slowly-seeping-sleeping gas? Diazapam in the food?

  • In my view a taser discharge should follow the same review as the discharge of a firearm because they have been marketed to the public as a direct substitute for shooting suspects. No more, no less – and that includes the “cattle prod” stun mode.

    Unfortunately many jurisdictions including Canadian ones treat tasers as alternatives to batons with no review and no proper use accounting despite the built in tracking counter for how often the weapon is used.

  • My own thoughts on the matter are to be found on my blog at Belfast and Beyond (Tasers: shocks and secrets), where I note that papers have been lodged requesting a judicial review into the decision to introduce Tasers. Respondents named include the Chief Constable, the Secretary of State and the NI Policing Board – the application suggests that each have failed to fulfill their statutory duties in this instance.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the document Turgon linked to from the PSNI is not the Equality Impact Assessment as he states, but rather, as the document itself makes clear, the “initial findings of a draft Equality Impact Assessment”. The full EQIA was only carried out subsequently in parallel with the pilot roll-out of Tasers and its findings have still not been published.

    What also hasn’t been published (despite my repeated attempts via Freedom of Information) are details of the trumpeted training regime for Tasers which the police suggested should offer reassurance to the public about their deployment.

    There’s also a link in the blog to Amnesty’s public response to last weekend’s Tasering where we also note, in sympathy with the difficult situations which the police sometimes have to handle, that:

    “Amnesty recognises that police officers have a duty to protect themselves and others from serious life-threatening incidents, and in these situations a Taser is clearly a less-lethal alternative.”

  • The Raven

    “What also hasn’t been published (despite my repeated attempts via Freedom of Information) are details of the trumpeted training regime for Tasers”

    Patrick, I would suggest there are several exclusions under FOI into which this would “conveniently” fall. Could you drop me a line via my email?

  • Harry Flashman

    “Don’t Taze me, mucker!”