Sussex Police are set to allow non-firearms officers to be able to use Tasers electro-shock weapons.
Until now Sussex was one of a small number of forces which restricted the use of Tasers to authorised firearms officers only.
After monitoring other forces who allow non-firearms officers to carry Tasers, Sussex Police will be rolling their use out to other
officers who have received special training.
Around 160 officers from local response and support teams have now received, or are receiving, training to use Tasers in situations where there is a real threat of violence. This means around eight per cent of police officers in the Force will be trained in the use of Tasers, compared to the national average of around 11.5 per cent.
Once trained, the officers will be available to deploy with Tasers to support colleagues dealing with violent or threatening situations and will reduce the number of times armed response units are deployed.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison of Sussex Police’s Operations Department said: “Experience shows that simply the presence of Tasers acts as a deterrent to the escalation of violence. Nearly 70 per cent of incidents where there is a possibility of using Tasers end without it being discharged. Studies have also showed that the presence of Tasers reduces the levels of force required by officers in violent situations avoiding, for example, the use of a baton or captor. In a significant number of cases simply the drawing and aiming of Taser is enough incentive for the person posing the threat to comply with officers.
“The majority of people will not see any change in day-to-day policing. Patrols by officers and PCSOs will continue as normal, however in the event of a violent situation they may now request Taser support by colleagues locally, rather than from firearms officers who are based at central locations.
“Authority to use Tasers will still have to be granted by senior officers, as has always been the case, and it is not the first option. Officers have a range of skills and tactics they can choose from and the most appropriate option for the circumstances will be used.
“The decision to roll out Tasers to non-firearms officers is not an indication that the threat of violence has increased in Sussex but a way of enabling us to deploy Tasers trained officers more quickly to situations where they are needed to protect the public.
“All the officers who will be authorised to carry Tasers undertake an intense week-long training course. The course includes theory alongside practical exercises and examines their decision making processes in pressured situations.”