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GOVERNMENT plans to hand Tasers to volunteer police officers are “dangerous” and will “inevitably lead to more deaths” from stun guns, campaigners have warned.
Home Secretary Priti Patel was expected to announce the move today during a speech at the Police Federation Conference.
Under the proposals, special constables would be allowed to carry electroshock weapons if authorised by their chief officers.
The Home Office says that the move will mean volunteer officers are not “at a disadvantage when facing an attacker wielding a knife or a marauding terrorist.”
But Amnesty International UK warns that expanding the use of Tasers “will inevitably lead to the increased firing of Tasers and more instances of misuse, serious harm and death.”
The group’s policing expert Oliver Feeley-Sprague said: “We also have specific concerns about Tasers being used against vulnerable groups such as those with mental illness, children and their massive overuse on black people.”
Liberty policy and campaigns manager Emmanuelle Andrews also branded the plans dangerous.
“Tasers can and do kill, or leave people with life-changing injuries, but too often we see officers reaching for these weapons.
“Just this year, an officer was charged with grievous bodily harm after he shot young black man Jordan Walker-Brown with a Taser, and left him paralysed from the chest down.
“As these horrific cases demonstrate, the use of Tasers often unnecessarily escalate situations, inflicting extreme pain and traumatising people and bystanders.”
The move comes just one year after the police watchdog urged for the use of Tasers to be reined in after finding that the weapon had been used by officers on children and mentally unwell people.
The review by the Independent Office for Police Conduct looked at 100 serious incidents of Taser use, including 16 cases where people died.
That included the case of Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson who died after being tasered for 33 seconds by a police officer and kicked twice in the head.
His family said that Atkinson had been suffering from mental health problems and a weak heart before his death.
Stand up to Racism co-convenor Weyman Bennet told the Morning Star that the move, which was announced a day after Ms Patel revealed that she had permanently eased restrictions on stop-and-search powers, signal the government is “preparing a more draconian society.”
“Its combining racism and attacking our rights, firstly by targeting black communities then all of us,” he said. “We have to resist these attacks.”
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