Risk of ‘postcode lottery’ for Taser as police representative demands Home Office funds kit

A police officer demonstrates the firing of taser gun, which delivers an electric shock to stun a suspect
A police officer demonstrates the firing of taser gun, which delivers an electric shock to stun a suspect
Andrew Corrigan

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TASER GUNS must be funded by central government instead of costing police forces cash from their budget, a police representative has insisted in a letter to the Home Office.

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter’s letter to police minister Nick Hurd says the kit has been ‘effective’ at protecting the police and public.

His letter warns it was a ‘tough financial decision’ for Hampshire Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney to fork out cash to fund Taser for all officers who want it and need it operationally.

Mr Apter puts the cost at £800,000 and says other forces are ‘prohibited (from doing so) because of the cost’, creating a ‘post code lottery’ for officers’ safety.

The Home Office said it is an ‘operational matter’ for chief constables.

In a statement, Mr Apter said: ‘It is wrong that local police forces are having to make decisions on whether to issue critical safety equipment such as Taser because they don’t have the funds available. I have been lobbying hard for all frontline officers in Hampshire Constabulary to have Taser if they want it – the chief constable has listened and agreed to support this but at a cost of £800,000. For the safety of my colleagues and the public I welcome this decision, but with our budget decreasing this means something else will suffer.

‘It can’t be right that if a chief constable supports the roll out of essential equipment such as Taser they have to pay for it by having fewer police officers or fewer staff. This is the stark reality facing forces and it is wrong.

He added: ‘The government needs to fund Taser centrally so my colleagues have the equipment they need to protect themselves and the public. I urge the minister to support this request.’

Hampshire police need to save about £25m in four years.

In a statement, the Home Office said it had ‘provided a strong and comprehensive settlement’ with an extra £460m for police in 2018/19, made up partly of council tax increases made by police and crime commissioners and £50m for counter-terrorism.

Hampshire police got £9.7m in the council tax hike, which the force says will sustain it – not increase levels of police.

The Home Office said the force had £85m in reserves.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The deployment of Taser is an operational matter for chief officers and it is for them to determine the number of devices and specially trained officers based on their force assessment of threat and risk.’