UK Taser Use More Than Doubles

…new statistics record the use of the devices for the third quarter of 2009 and show they were used 402 times by specially trained units from July to September, up from 169 in the previous quarter. Officers discharged them 67 times over the period, compared to 36 for the preceding period. Units have now used Tasers 1,669 times since the trial began in September 2007 and discharged them 293 times.

According to the press release

The rise in the use of Tasers this quarter is largely down to updated figures of around 200 deployments by the Metropolitan Police going back over previous quarters. This also accounts for the rise in Taser discharges.

But please note-

We cannot be certain that historically all forces have recorded Taser usage in the same way, although this has been mitigated by ACPO issuing clear instructions to forces on reporting procedures

I think it is always worth remembering ACPO is a private company run by the country’s senior police chiefs and as such beyond the normal remit of freedom of information laws, it means our police forces are part privatised already. They share intelligence with other corporations and government and consider environmental, human rights & left wing activists as worthy of  spying upon as NeoNazis, which tells us something about their ideological -corporate- centre of gravity.

PDF showing quarterly statistics up to 30 September 2009 for Taser use –

  • in England and Wales
  • by authorised firearms officers outside of a firearms authority
  • by specially trained units.

Also the terms of Taser use-

  • Taser ‘use’ includes any time a Taser is drawn, aimed, red-dotted, arced, drive-stunned, or discharged.
  • Drawn: Officer draws Taser which a person could perceive as a ‘use of force’ whether or not accompanied by a verbal warning.
  • Aimed: The Taser is aimed at a person but the safety is not removed (i.e. the red dot laser sight is not activated).
  • Red dot: The safety is removed and the red dot laser sight is activated and placed on a subject, but the Taser is not fired.
  • Arced: The Taser is sparked without a cartridge being fired.
  • Drive Stun: The Taser is pressed against a person and cycled — this imparts a shock without firing the probes/barbs.
  • Discharge: The Taser is fired and the probes/barbs are discharged towards the subject.

Meanwhile even specially trained officers kill their own colleagues, albeit with a shotgun –taken off the safety catch on his gun, acted “instinctively” and pulled the trigger – given the known lethality of the ‘nonlethal‘ Taser this is not reassuring especially as Tasers are now routinely issued to non expert officers. Yes, better to be instinctively shot with a Taser than a firearm but in truth neither are in practice non-lethal. The evidence of use shows what Tasers do is not replace firearms, but create whole new categories of use where previously no weapon would have been used and they mainstream into everyday civil policing the concept of pain compliance. It becomes a shoot first ask questions later paradigm because the ‘shoot’ is perceived and promoted as a harmless use of stun technology. There is a good article- The soft-kill solution: New frontiers in pain compliance By Ando Arike, unfortunately behind Harper’s pay wall about the normalisation of pain compliance to deal with the social breakdown incurred due to Neoliberal ‘consensus’ politics, some excerpts via Digby

As communications advances in the years since have increasingly exposed such violence, governments have realized that the public’s perception of injury and bloodshed must be carefully managed. “Even the lawful application of force can be misrepresented to or misunderstood by the public,” warns a 1997 joint report from the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

“More than ever, the police and the military must be highly discreet when applying force.” It is a need for discretion rooted in one of the oldest fears of the ruling class—the volatility of the mob—and speaks to rising anxieties about crowd control at a time when global capitalism begins to run up against long-predicted limits to growth. Each year, some 76 million people join our current 6.7 billion in a world of looming resource scarcities, ecological collapse, and glaring inequalities of wealth; and elites are preparing to defend their power and profits. In this new era of triage, as democratic institutions and social safety nets are increasingly considered dispensable luxuries, the task of governance will be to lower the political and economic expectations of the masses without inciting fullfledged revolt. Non-lethal weapons promise to enhance what military theorists call “the political utility of force,” allowing dissent to be suppressed inconspicuously.

The next hurdle for non-lethality, as Colonel Hymes’s comments suggest,will be the introduction of socalled second-generation non-lethal weapons into everyday policing and crowd control. Although “first-generation” weapons like rubber bullets and pepper spray have gained a certain acceptance, despite their many drawbacks, exotic technologies like the Active Denial System invariably cause public alarm. Nevertheless, the trend is now away from chemical and “kinetic” weapons that rely on physical trauma and toward post-kinetic weapons that, as researchers put it, “induce behavioral modification” more discreetly. One indication that the public may come to accept these new weapons has been the successful introduction of the Taser—apparently, even the taboo on electroshock can be overcome given the proper political climate…

Originally sold as an alternative to firearms, the Taser today has become an all-purpose tool for what police call “pain compliance.” Mounting evidence shows that the weapon is routinely used on people who pose little threat: those in handcuffs, in jail cells, in wheelchairs and hospital beds; schoolchildren, pregnant women, the mentally disturbed, the elderly; irate shoppers, obnoxious lawyers, argumentative drivers, nonviolent protesters—in fact, YouTube now has an entire category of videos in which people are Tasered for dubious reasons. In late 2007, public outrage flared briefly over the two most famous such videos—those of college student Andrew Meyer “drivestunned” at a John Kerry speech, and of a distraught Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, dying after repeated Taser jolts at Vancouver airport—but police and weapon were found blameless in both incidents. Strangely, YouTube’s videos may be promoting wider acceptance of the Taser; it appears that many viewers watch them for entertainment.

The technology now exists for drone launched multiple Taser cartridges, protest is already ‘kettled’ or restricted to ‘free speech zones’ police assaults and murders even when caught on tape do not result in a change of policy by government, sooner or later these ‘nonlethal’ techs will be applied to demonstrations and protests. They have already been tested in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, note what that indicates about the attitude of the government to the governed, domestic extremists, insurgents & enemy combatants the lot of us.

10 Responses to “UK Taser Use More Than Doubles”

  1. otto Says:

    Nice post.

    For a glimpse into the country’s bright future, do you have any stats on US Taser use?

  2. Jotman Says:

    I guy in the US became severely mentally disabled after suffering a heart attack as a result of being Tasered for being drunk on a bus. He’s suing the company, at this point, this kind of lawsuit — none of which to date have succeeded — may be the last best hope.

    This video is notable not only because a granny is tasered, but it shows how tasers are being used simply to get people to do as they are told (in this case, to sign a ticket):

  3. libhomo Says:

    I’m beginning to see Tasers as part of a larger pattern which includes Gitmo, Abu Graib, kidnapping and torture (“extraordinary rendition”), and other human rights abuses. The US and UK governments are getting more violent and oppressive as time goes by.

    • otto Says:

      you must remember this
      a kiss is just a kiss
      a stungun’s built to fry
      the fundamental religions apply
      as time goes by

      and when two cops they woo
      they still say “UP AGAINST THE WALL YOU MOTHERFUCKER PUNK ASSHOLE”
      on that you can rely
      no matter what the future brings
      as time goes by

    • RickB Says:

      Absolutely, as the inequalities caused by Neoliberal corporate policies grows the state knows it will need more violent options to maintain dominance. Banks and corporate hegemony goes unquestioned so as they take up more wealth the govt. is left with being the security detail for the oligarchs unless we MAKE govt work for us and represent us.

    • Jotman Says:

      “…Tasers as part of a larger pattern…” Agreed. To the extent the public accepts one form of physical coercion, acceptance of others may be inevitable.

      Another issue is proportionality of response. Under Bush, Americans were taught to accept use of force wildly out of proportion to the offense/threat/risk posed. Abroad, the lesson continues to be affirmed.

      The new law seems to be that “Our guys (soldiers/police) can do anything, as long as they are doing it in our name.” Yet all civilized legal codes anywhere emphasize proportionality.


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