Hampshire police used Tasers more than 400 times in a year, figures show

POLICE officers across Hampshire used Tasers hundreds of times in a year, figures have revealed.

A police officer pictured armed with a Taser.
A police officer pictured armed with a Taser.

The latest Home Office data shows that Hampshire Constabulary drew Tasers 480 times in the year to March 2020, though officers only discharged the electric shock weapons on 51 occasions.

The figures count the number of times officers involved in an incident used their Taser rather than the number of separate incidents.

The numbers follow a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct last year, which raised serious concerns about the unnecessary or unsafe use of the devices by police forces, particularly against children.

The report from the police watchdog made 17 recommendations to bodies including the Home Office, the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs' Council, calling for improvements to the national guidance, training, scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use.

As revealed in December, Hampshire police drew Tasers on 27 under-18s, firing the twice.

Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi, the NPCC's lead for less lethal weapons, said Tasers were critical in protecting both officers and the public.

She acknowledged improvements could be made but said officers were already well scrutinised when it came to using reasonable force, adding: ‘Policing is not easy and in many violent situations I believe Taser is a viable less lethal option for officers between using a baton and the lethal force of a gun.

‘Officers are well trained to use the reasonable force given to them in law to confront the violence or threat of violence they are faced with when they protect the public and themselves.’

Oliver Feeley-Sprague, of human rights campaign group Amnesty International, said the police had ‘a disturbing track record of disproportionately using Tasers’ against black people.

She added that the weapons could be an effective tool if used by well-trained officers but warned they were ‘open to misuse and over-use’.

A Home Office spokesman said in 86 per cent of times when a Taser was drawn it was not fire, adding: ‘Our police officers must be equipped with the resources, tools and powers they need to keep themselves and the public safe – including Taser.’