Taser decision ‘lacked courage’

CONCERNS were raised this week about the way a Daventry-based firm has been given permission to supply Tasers to police.

MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Committee claimed in a report that Government officials showed “a lack of courage or determination” when they gave Tactical Safety Responses (TSR) permission to supply the stun guns in December last year.

The contract was issued despite TSR’s close links to the firm stripped of its licence when its weapons were illegally used in the stand-off with Northumbria gunman Raoul Moat.

TSR, which is based on the Royal Oak Industrial, is staffed by four people from the previous Taser supplier, Pro-Tect Systems Ltd. It also leases the same premises and the committee’s report said its website is “a near duplicate”.

Pro-Tect lost its licence after the late director of operations and former policeman Peter Boatman decided to take the experimental X12 Tasers directly to officers involved in the Moat manhunt last July.

When the licence was revoked in September Home Secretary Theresa May said the company had only been permitted to supply the Tasers to the Home Office’s scientific development branch testing. Three days later, on October 1, Mr Boatman was found dead at his home in Kingsthorpe. Cause of death is suspected to have been suicide.

The Home Affairs Committee’s report adds there appears to be “widespread confusion” about the rules governing the supply of Tasers to police, saying: “Not only did the company distribute an unauthorised Taser to Northumbria Police, it had previously sold the same make of Taser to the National Police Improvement Agency.”

The MPs also question the adequacy of having “a monopoly supplier business model in police procurement”.

The committee’s chairman Labour MP Keith Vaz said: “The fact that the new supplier is so closely linked to the previous supplier raises serious ques-tions about the authorisation and procurement processes. It is unacceptable that there appears to be confusion in an area of policy that deals with a weapon that has been deployed over 6,000 times by police in this country. We will continue to monitor the situation and intend to further examine police procurement as a whole in our next inquiry.”

When approached by the Daventry Express TSR said it did not wish to comment.