Chil­dren and dogs tar­geted as po­lice taser use dou­bles

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

THE use of stun guns by North Wales Po­lice more than dou­bled in less than five years, with chil­dren and even dogs tar­geted with tasers.

Of­fi­cers used tasers 605 times be­tween Jan­uary 2014 and Septem­ber 30, 2018, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures ob­tained by North Wales Live via a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest.

The fig­ures in­clude in­ci­dents where of­fi­cers have fired their tasers, as well as oc­ca­sions where tasers have only been drawn, and those where they have only been aimed at peo­ple.

Tasers were pulled out on 60 oc­ca­sions in 2014, com­pared to 136 times in 2018.

Fig­ures show that, be­tween 2016 and 2018, po­lice used tasers on 367 men, 29 women and four dogs. On four oc­ca­sions, they were used for “crowd dis­per­sal”.

Over those three years, of­fi­cers used stun guns on 15 teenagers – the youngest be­ing 15 – but only one of the youths was fired at.

The most com­mon rea­son po­lice used tasers was due to “ag­gres­sion to­wards of­fi­cers” – with 251 out of 404 uses in the last three years at­trib­uted to this.

Other rea­sons of­fi­cers with tasers have been de­ployed in­clude al­co­hol and drug use, re­sist­ing ar­rest, self harm and men­tal health is­sues.

Peo­ple tasered by po­lice have been armed with weapons in­clud­ing base­ball bats, axes, bot­tles, knives, ma­chetes, metal bars, bro­ken glass, ham­mers, nee­dles, sledge­ham­mers, swords, ra­zor blades, screw­drivers and even a fire ex­tin­guisher.

In 2016, of­fi­cers tasered two dogs and nine chil­dren and, in 2017, two dogs and four peo­ple un­der the age of 18 were tasered.

In­ci­dents in­volv­ing chil­dren last year in­cluded of­fi­cers draw­ing a taser on a 15-year-old boy who was thought to have a knife, as well as a 16-yearold who was be­ing “ag­gres­sive”.

Of­fi­cers also “red dot­ted” a 17-yearold boy who was said to be act­ing ag­gres­sively, and an­other 17-year-old boy re­port­edly armed with a knife had a taser aimed at him.

In 2018, tasers were used twice on teenagers, in­clud­ing on a 16-year-old boy who it is claimed at­tacked and threat­ened a woman with a knife.

The vic­tim suf­fered in­juries to her arm, ac­cord­ing to North Wales Po­lice. Two of­fi­cers at­tended the in­ci­dent and drew their tasers but did not fire them.

An of­fi­cer also drew a taser on a 15-year-old boy who had al­legedly smashed cars, doors and win­dows at a care home with a pole. Po­lice said the teenager also threat­ened staff and po­lice of­fi­cers dur­ing the in­ci­dent. Over the last three years, tasers were used 163 times by North Wales Po­lice’s eastern divi­sion, 150 times by the cen­tral divi­sion and 91 times by the western divi­sion. Fig­ures for 2018 show that stun guns were used the most in the West Conwy area with 27 uses, fol­lowed by 24 in Flintshire North, 23 times in both Den­bighshire/ Conwy Ru­ral and Den­bighshire/Abergele Coastal, 22 times in Gwynedd South, 20 in Wrex­ham Town, 18 times in Gwynedd North, 15 times on An­gle­sey and 14 times in both Wrex­ham Ru­ral and Flintshire South ar­eas.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Jane Ban­ham said: “Al­though there have been 404 in­ci­dents in­volv­ing the use of tasers over the last three years, they have been fired 44 times.

“Of­fi­cers can be faced with a va­ri­ety of dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions, so it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that be­ing equipped with a taser al­lows an of­fi­cer to en­gage a vi­o­lent sub­ject, or a per­son who is armed or in­tent on self­harm­ing, from a safe dis­tance.

“More than 100 more of­fi­cers have been well trained in the use of Tasers since 2014 and they are now spread through­out the force’s three di­vi­sions, pro­vid­ing us with more op­tions to re­spond in the most ap­pro­pri­ate way to any given in­ci­dent.”

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