Federation says taser is most effective way to deal with assaults
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland says the roll out of taser to all frontline officers is essential to deal with spiralling rates of serious assaults and attacks on officers.
PFNI Chair, Liam Kelly, says a range of assaults are happening every day with officers being bitten, kicked, punched, head-butted and attacked with weapons with many unfortunately requiring medical treatment.
Mr Kelly said: “Assaults are now at epidemic levels. On average seven officers are assaulted every single day as they go about the task of safeguarding this entire community.
“Violent, thuggish behaviour involving vicious physical attacks must be addressed. In my book, that means giving officers access to the tools to protect both themselves and victims caught up in violent outbursts.
“Taser is a proven deterrent. It makes the would-be attacker think twice and in many instances, a violent confrontation is averted because of its presence, thus minimising the risk of potential serious assault and injury to our officers.
“Taser should be part of the toolkit for officers alongside verbal commands, their baton, PAVA irritant spray and firearm. All uses of police equipment carry a risk of causing injury to the assailant. Taser is proven to work and is clearly a less lethal option than having to resort to the use of a firearm. In 2022, due to the level of the threat being confronted with, on 440 occasions our officers felt is necessary to draw their firearm.
“We know of too many cases where officers are being hospitalised with horrendous injuries. Some have been forced to retire through ill health. Scores of officers are unable to work operationally as they recover at home or perform restricted duties at work. This means reduced levels of service to the public, which no one wants. It also places heavy pressure on colleagues who are left to take on the additional workload.
“The Courts, too, must play their part is sending out a strong message that assaults will incur maximum penalties including lengthy jail terms. The Courts have a major role to play in demonstrating that attacks on our officers are totally unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
“We simply cannot understand the opposition there is to providing our frontline officers access to Taser. Surely objectors understand that taser is infinitely preferable to a perpetrator being fatally or seriously injured by an officer. As things stand our frontline officers are being placed in the invidious position of putting their own lives at risk or having to consider using their firearm to protect themselves and the lives of others.”