'Enough is enough': Northamptonshire Police first in UK to arm all front-line officers with Tasers

An officer practicing using a Taser. Photo: Northamptonshire Police
An officer practicing using a Taser. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

Northamptonshire Police will be the first force in the country to arm all of its front-line officers with Tasers in response to rising levels of 'sickening' attacks on staff.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley's decision will give 300 extra officers the option to be trained and equipped with the stun guns.

A Northamptonshire Police officer demonstrates how to use a Taser

A Northamptonshire Police officer demonstrates how to use a Taser

“Enough is enough. Every week, I am made aware of more and more sickening attacks on my officers – they are spat at, assaulted on a daily basis and are being exposed to increasing levels of violence when they are deployed to incidents," he said.

“No one comes to work to be assaulted and I want to make it crystal clear that my officers certainly don’t.

"It’s time to give all front-line officers the ability to defend themselves and defend members of the public, which involves equipping them with more than a baton, handcuffs and a can of pepper spray."

Training will cost around £600 per officer but a police spokesman said the money 'pales into insignificance' when compared to the level of injury and days lost due to sickness.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

Chief Constable Nick Adderley. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

Ch Cons Adderley expects it will take 18 months for all front-line officers in the county to have access to a Taser when on duty.

“This isn’t a decision I have taken lightly, but there comes a time when we have to accept that risks to front-line officers have changed dramatically in the past 10 years and I have responsibility as chief constable to respond accordingly," he said.

“This decision, which is fully backed by Northamptonshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner, will send a clear message to those who have no respect for law and order and think attacking police officers is acceptable – we will not tolerate anymore.”

In a trend that is mirrored across the whole country, Northamptonshire has seen nearly a 50 per increase in attacks on police officers in the past two years.

Only two weeks ago, 37-year-old Louey Kostromin was jailed for eight years at Northampton Crown Court after biting part of a Northamptonshire Police officer’s ear off.

Furthermore, a recent Police Federation survey found 94 per cent of officers said Tasers should be issued to more front-line officers.

Ch Cons Adderley said: “My officers in Northamptonshire have a right to feel safe, supported and adequately equipped when they are deployed to incidents and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I sat here and didn’t take the steps necessary to give them the equipment that could save their lives and the lives of the public we serve.”

Home Office figures show Tasers were used in 17,100 incidents across the country in the year to March 2018, up from 11,300 the year before - but they were not discharged in 85 per cent of cases.

If an officer draws, aims and places a Taser red dot on the suspect, the weapon is 'used', but not discharged.

This red dot is often enough to quell the threat, meaning the officer rarely has to discharge the weapon, a police spokesman said.

Police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold, said: “I support the chief constable in his plan to equip front-line officers with Taser if they want to carry it.

"We were already extending the use of Taser more widely across the force and I will provide the funding to support the chief’s new proposals.

"I know that this is not a quick fix, however I totally agree with the chief constable that police officers can best protect the public if they are also able to protect themselves.

“Robust enforcement of the law is one of the central themes of my police and crime plan and equipping officers with Taser will give them a real and visible deterrent in situations where someone is intent on causing harm, as well as the reassurance that they are able to keep themselves and the public safe.”

Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer threw his support behind the scheme, making reference to PC Andrew Harper, who was allegedly murdered while on duty on Friday.

"The chief constable has my full support on this matter," the MP wrote on a post on his website.

"Every police officer in Northamptonshire must be properly supported and adequately equipped to protect both the public and themselves when faced with violence or the threat of violence on our streets."