Taser

Taser has been available in the UK as a less-lethal option for police since 2003. Humberside Police first issued Taser to non-firearms officers in 2009.  

Humberside Police has designed this page to help inform the public about Taser, its training and use within the Humberside Policing area.

I’m ACC Andy McDyer responsible for all matters relating to Taser outside of the firearms arena.

Humberside Police have a rigorous training programme for all officers who are selected as Taser Officers, which is designed to provide them with an enhanced understanding of the National Decision Model and Human Rights legislation, as well as providing instruction on the safe operation of the devices.  Officers are required to maintain their operational competence in the use of Taser.

We have clearly defined policies to help manage our day-to-day deployment of Taser.  Trained supervisors make decisions on whether to send Taser trained officers to incidents where there is an increased risk of injury by using the National Decision Model.

Humberside Police is continuing its policy of openness in the creation of this webpage to ensure the public are aware and informed regarding Taser.

We have recently formed a Taser scrutiny panel to add another level of independent scrutiny of Taser use in the Humberside area. 

Training and Scrutiny

All officers wishing to become specially trained Taser officers go through a rigorous selection procedure prior to even attending the course.

All officers have to complete a Taser selection booklet, which requires that they apply for permission from their direct line supervising Sgt. They should complete a full assessment including their physical fitness, maturity, personality and temperament suitable to carrying Taser.

The booklet is then forwarded to the officers Inspector, Professional standards branch and Occupational Health for an assessment of their suitability.

Successful candidate’s booklets are sent to the Commander for their area of work for final approval.

Once the final approval has been made the officer then has to attend an intensive three day training course to become qualified as a Taser user.

The national Taser guidelines have been set out by the College of Policing and the course has been designed by Taser trainers before being approved and signed off by the Chief Firearms Instructor for the Yorkshire and the Humber Police forces (YATH).

All the Taser trainers within Humberside police are Operational Taser Officers and then have either completed the National Lead Taser Trainers course or the internal Taser trainers’ course. [Find out more about Tasers]

Initial Taser Course

This intensive course covers the following aspects:

• How to use Taser: This is taught through drills, qualification shoots and through practical scenarios.
• Deployments: Officers have in-depth lessons on the National Decision Model, domestic law and Human Rights.  They also have lessons on rationale, tactical options, communications skills and implications of use.  These lessons are re-enforced using realistic practical scenarios.
• Post incident procedures: Officers are taught about how to retrieve and record evidence and after care procedures.

The officers on the course are continuously assessed throughout, there are three formal assessments that they must pass.

• Qualification shoot: This is a nationally set range discipline which tests accuracy, handling and safe use of Taser.
• Written exam: This is a nationally set exam with officers having to achieve 80% to pass.
• Practical scenarios: These are set by the YATH region and there is a set criteria officers have to reach in order to pass.

Refresher Training

Officers have to attend an annual one day refresher course designed by the YATH Taser trainers, this is a pass or fail course and included the following.

• A regional and national update, including any lessons learnt and new or emerging issues.
• Qualification shoot: This is a nationally set range discipline which tests accuracy, handling and safe use of Taser.
• Written exam: This is a nationally set exam with officers having to achieve 80% to pass.
• Practical scenarios: These are set by the YATH region and there is a set criteria officers have to reach in order to pass.

Scrutiny/Accountability

Each time an officer draws their Taser from the holster, they have to complete a Home Officer designed use of force form.  The officers also have to bring the use of Taser to the attention duty Inspector, who dependant on the nature of the incident, can bring this to the attention of the force Senior Management Team via the morning briefing.

The Home Office form is submitted to the Taser single point of contact (SPOC), who scrutinises the form. There are two Taser SPOC’s who are experienced Taser users and also qualified Taser trainers.

The forms are then sent to the Special Operations Training Unit, where one of the Nationally qualified Lead Taser trainers further inspects the form.

Each month, senior management within Humberside’s Joint Special Operations Unit are sent a number of randomly selected Home Offices forms to quality assure.

Humberside Police with then use an independent scrutiny panel to look at Taser use.

Scrutiny Panel

The scrutiny panel was form in December 2015 it currently has 15 member and is totally independent of Humberside Police.  The panel which meets on a regular basis has a remit for independent scrutiny of all Taser use by Humberside Police.

Accountability

• Every Taser signed for and checked prior to issue which each officer signing to say they are fit to carry Taser for that shift.
• Every Taser has a dataport which records its use when fired, this can’t be overwritten and is checked and saved after each deployment.
• Each cartridge has its own unique serial number and must be signed in and out of the Taser safes by the officer who takes it.
• Post incident procedure is set nationally and each officer must follow it in order to achieve the best evidence.

Taser Explained

Brief History

Jack Cover was the inventor of the TASER device during 1966-1974.  As a chief scientist for the NASA Apollo Moon Landing Program, Jack responded to President Johnson’s Blue Ribbon Commission’s call for development of less-lethal weapons. Thomas A swift was a fictional character in the science fiction books read by Cover as a boy, and was the inspiration for the name of the device he invented. During the development of the “TASER”, it was discovered that very short duration, high energy, pulses were non-lethal and non-injurious, but had a profound physiological and psychological effect upon both humans and animals.  In the 1971-74 period, tests on volunteers were done under the supervision of Dr. Frank Summers with two cardiologists, a physiologist, EKG and other instrumentation at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange County, CA.           

In 2002, TASER conducted further studies to refine the NMI waveforms.  The result is Shaped Pulse Technology, complex waveforms that achieve the NMI effect at much lower power levels than the M26. 

In 2003 the first Shaped Pulse weapon, the TASER X26 was introduced.  Advanced Shaped Pulse Technology makes the X26 5% more powerful than the M26, yet 60% smaller and lighter

Taser is a hand held, single shot Less-Lethal weapon, designed to temporarily incapacitate a subject using an electrical current.

The Taser X26 is the only model used by Humberside Police and is designed to allow officers to deal with violent or potentially violent incidents at a distance.

The Tasers are worn overtly in a highly visible position either on the officers belt or body armour.

Taser works on both the psychological and physiological level:

Psychological

Taser is highly visible, it is yellow in colour and is worn overtly by all officers.  The Taser has a laser aiming dot, when activated it clearly warns the subject that the weapon is being pointed at them. Officers are also trained where possible to give clear warnings to any subject. Taser can also be ‘arched’ which also gives a visible and audible warning to any subject.

 In the vast majority of incidents, it is not necessary to draw the weapon or if drawn to discharge it. This is due to its highly visible presence and due to extensive press and social media publicity leading most subjects being aware of the effects of Taser.  As a result of this most incidents are resolved without any use of force by officers.

When the Taser X26 is discharged, it delivers a number of high voltage but short duration pulses. These pulses interfere with the body’s neuromuscular system and brings about a temporary incapacitation. The Tasers voltage peaks at 50,000 volts, but this is considerably less when it reaches the body. Although the volts are high the amps are low with 0.0021 amps on average.

When discharged the Taser fires two barbs from its cartridge, attached to the weapon by conductive wire. The barbs can cause some minor puncture wounds, but all Taser officers are trained in after care post deployment.

Taser Terminology

• Red Dot: The Taser has a laser system which allows the officer to illuminate the subject with a red dot. This allows the officer to take better aim, but also ensures the subject knows they have a Taser pointed at them.
• Arcing: This is a show of strength option for the officer. With the cartridge removed the officers can activate the weapon. The electric current sparks between the contact points giving an audible and visual warning to the subject.
• Cartridges: These are attached to the front of the weapon and contain two barbs attached by conductive wires.  This allows the electrical current to travel from the weapon to the subject. The cartridges are individually marked and contain identification discs.
• Angled drive stun: This is used when a Taser has been discharge close to a subject.  The Taser is then moved and placed against another part of the body in order to achieve temporary incapacitation. This tactic will be used only when the officer can’t discharge form a distance.