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The force has now issued 50,000 volt stun guns to all serving on the front line. The historic move comes after a shocking spate of violence against police across the UK and fulfils a promise made by Mr Adderley in 2019 when he said: “Enough is enough”.
He said: “I will never shy away from difficult decisions, controversial conversations or debates if it means never again will the relative or loved one of an officer hear a thud on the door at 4am, look out of the window, see a patrol car and know the next few minutes are going to change their lives forever.”
He added: “What sort of chief constable would I be if I didn’t do all in my power to protect the men and women I ask to keep our streets safe? I want them to have the confidence to go after the baddest people causing the most misery and get the job done, professionally and safely. Taser will help them do that.”
One of the darkest periods in UK policing history has seen three officers slain on duty in four years.
PC Keith Palmer, 48, was killed stopping a knife-wielding terrorist during the 2017 Westminster attack.
He had served with the Metropolitan Police for 16 years and was posthumously awarded the George Medal.
Two years later newlywed Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper, 28, was killed after being dragged behind a car after he tried to stop a group of men towing away a stolen quad bike.
He died in “truly shocking circumstances” after his ankles were caught in a rope hanging from the back of the car.
And last year New Zealand-born Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, was shot dead in a custody centre in Croydon by a 23-year-old man who had already been arrested.
The sickening cases, coupled with wanton violence towards officers during lockdown last summer and recent so-called Kill the Bill protests in Bristol, have raised concern that tens of thousands of bobbies are ill equipped to deal with the increasingly savage threat posed by criminals running amok on Britain’s Wild West streets.
Standard issue protective equipment includes a baton, CS spray, leg and arm restraints and handcuffs.
But the deployment of Taser is a matter for individual forces, meaning the majority of police do not carry them because of cost.
Figures suggest there are only around 31,000 Taser trained police in Britain – less than one fifth of the total workforce of 157,000.
Last year Home Secretary Priti Patel said forces in England and Wales would receive £10 million to purchase new devices. Northamptonshire got £130,000 which funded an uplift programme. Last night, the Police Federation of England and Wales said it now wanted other forces to step up and arm their officers with the lifesaving kit.
The Daily Express was given rare and exclusive access to the force firearms range where the last officers were fully trained in the weapon.
Some 328 front line officers now carry Taser.
Mr Adderley was given a demonstration before firing live weapons himself.
He described Taser as a “safe, effective and vital” piece of equipment.
The chief constable was commander for Tameside in Greater Manchester when constables Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone were shot dead in an ambush by one-eyed Dale Cregan in September 2012.
The drug dealer made a hoax emergency call to police claiming to have witnessed a domestic burglary.
WPcs Hughes, 23, and Bone, 32, were sent to investigate and when they arrived Cregan ambushed the unarmed policewomen, shooting and throwing a grenade at them.
Both officers were hit by at least eight bullets as Cregan fired 32 shots in 31 seconds. WPc Bone died at the scene while WPc Hughes died shortly after reaching hospital.
Cregan later turned himself in, admitting to killing Hughes and Bone in a revenge attack claiming police were victimising his family.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order on in June 2013.
Mr Adderley said: “In August 2019 I made a promise to issue every single front line officer under my command with Taser If they wanted to carry it, and were fit to do so.
“I was aware Northamptonshire Police would be the first force in the country to do this and it would draw mixed commentary and views from across the world of policing and beyond, something I was ready for and quite prepared to justify.
“My force and my police, fire and crime commissioner were fully supportive but, as predicted, abuse, ridicule, anger and even threats towards me poured in. My response to them then is the same I offer now: Police officers deserve to have the best protection, training and equipment we can provide for them. They are not punch bags and those under my command will never be seen as easy targets.
“In addition to protecting an officer from a harmful offender, Taser can save a life. In many instances, officers will be called to an incident where an individual is a threat to their own life and Taser can be used as an effective tool to mitigate risks and on occasions save lives.
“Northamptonshire Police is now the first force in the country to issue all front line officers [with Taser] and we have done it ahead of time. I am incredibly proud of this achievement and of the work the men and women of Northamptonshire Police do every day.”
In 85 percent of cases Taser is not discharged.
If an officer draws his weapon, aims it and places a red-dot on the suspect it is classed as being used, but not discharged.
In most cases this is enough to quell a threat.
Over the past year in Northamptonshire it has been used 687 times and fired 41 times.
Almost half the police carrying it are aged between 25-34 and 87 percent said they now felt more confident on duty, while 96 percent said they felt safer.
COMMENT by Nick Adderley, Chief Constable, Northamptonshire Police
In the early hours of a cold March morning I was awoken from a deep sleep by the shrill of my mobile and informed by the duty Superintendent an officer had been badly assaulted and was in hospital awaiting surgery.
As I rose from my bed I asked “How badly injured are they?”
After a slight pause the Superintendent replied, “At least life changing.”
That sick knot in my stomach, which I had experienced too many times before, was present once again and as I sat taking the details of the injuries I was imagining the blood curdling emotions about to flood over the wife as she opens the door to uniformed police at 4am knowing this is not going to be good news.
Sadly, this is a scenario which plays out virtually every week somewhere in the UK.
After I put the phone down I sat for a moment, pondered the situation and thought that’s it – enough is enough.
Over the previous few months, 15 officers had been seriously assaulted, wanton violence towards them resulting in deep lacerations, burns, blunt trauma injuries and an one even having his ear bitten off by a drug crazed criminal.
At 4:30am that morning I began to write the business case to issue every single front-line officer, under my command, with Taser. If they wanted to carry Taser, and were fit to do so, they would have it.
I was aware Northamptonshire Police would be the first police force in the country to do this and that this would draw mixed commentary and views from across the world of policing and beyond, something I was ready for and quite prepared to justify.
In August 2019, after all the groundwork had been completed, I announced I was going to issue Taser to every front line officer who wished to carry it.
My force and my Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner were fully supportive but as predicted, abuse, ridicule, anger and even threats toward me poured in.
My response to them then is the same response I offer now: Police officers deserve to have the best protection, training and equipment we can provide for them. They are not punch bags and those under my command will never be seen as easy targets.
Northamptonshire Police is now the first force in the country to issue all front line officers with Taser and we have done it ahead of time.
I am incredibly proud of this achievement and of the work the men and women of Northants Police do every day.
As chief constable I will never shy away from the difficult decisions, the controversial conversations or debates if it means never again will the relative or loved one of an officer hear that thud on the door at 4am, look out of the window, see a patrol car and know the next few minutes are going to change their lives forever.
• Nick Adderley is Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police
COMMENT by John Apter
Chief Constable Nick Adderley has delivered on his promise to issue Taser to every colleague in his force who requested one.
For this, he gets my thanks.
But while I applaud him on delivering on a promise he made locally in Northamptonshire, I want to see other chiefs in England and Wales following his lead.
My passion for the safety of the Federation’s 130,000 members is well documented.
However, many rank and file officers still tell me daily they feel vulnerable and isolated due to the lack of this vital piece of kit.
We have seen horrendous levels of violence and an increase in assaults against police officers in recent years.
This shows no sign of stopping.
I accept Taser won’t solve all our problems.
However, we know it can and has saved lives and prevented police from being more seriously injured than they have been.
I feel very strongly that officers who want to be trained and carry Taser should be able to do so – and the majority of the public support this.
I led a campaign for more funding in 2019 which resulted in the Home Office announcing an additional £10m to equip officers with Taser.
This was a welcome indication of the Government’s support for this essential piece of kit, but it wasn’t enough.
We need more funding.
The latest figures suggest approximately one fifth of my colleagues currently have access to Taser.
This is woefully inadequate and means there are many of my colleagues who are not being afforded the extra protection a Taser can offer.
Policing is tough, so it’s essential my colleagues receive the best training, the best equipment, and the best support they need to do their job.
Sadly, during this past year, Taser training in some areas has been put on a back burner.
This needs to change, and there must be a conscious effort by chief constables to restart training for all officers who want Taser.
This is a lifesaving piece of kit – its rollout to more officers must be a priority.
• John Apter is the National Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales
The Taser-wielding policeman
PC Anthony Lee says he feels safer and more confident now he is armed with a Taser.
PC Lee, 35, who has a girlfriend and three-year-old son, also knows his family feel reassured he has the kit to better protect himself, if needed.
He said: “A couple of weeks ago I was on patrol in Northampton and spotted a man wanted for GBH who was believed to be carrying a knife.
“He clocked me and started running down a side street so I jumped out and started pursuing him on foot.
“I shouted ‘stop’, identified myself as a police officer armed with Taser, but he ignored me and carried on running.
“As I rounded a corner I confronted him while he was trying to get into a property.
“This individual was wanted by Thames Valley Police for a serious domestic offence. All attempts to communicate with him had failed so I ‘red dotted’ him [with Taser].
“Within a couple of seconds I aimed it at him and he dropped to the floor, shouting at me not to use the weapon. Within 30 seconds a number of officers had arrived and he was arrested. Until that point I was by myself.”
The potential consequences – to both the officer and public – of a cornered knife-wielding suspect desperate to flee could have been horrific.
But in most cases simply the sight of an officer carrying a Taser is enough to quell a threat.
“Red dotting” is when two sights are placed on a suspect before the weapon is not discharged.
Suspects then face the prospect of being shot with 50,000 volts.
PC Lee, who has been qualified to carry the weapon for a year, added: “I had no reservations in stepping myself forward for Taser training and I would feel comfortable deploying the weapon.
“This is another tool to protect us on the front line and think it should be part of an officer’s standard-issued personal protection kit.”
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