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MoD police spend £360,000 on huge stockpile of Tasers – despite using the weapons just once in eight years

By DPF Admin19th January 2015August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

A police force is building up a huge stockpile of Tasers which cost £150,000 in the last nine months alone – despite using the controversial weapon just once in eight years.

Campaigners have condemned the spend by the Military of Defence police, which has had to cut millions of pounds from its budget and sack 800 officers – a quarter of the workforce – since 2010.

Figures seen by MailOnline reveal the force, which guards military bases around Britain, spent £361,185 on 363 Tasers since the weapons were introduced in 2007.

Some 217 of those, almost two thirds of the entire stock, were bought since April 2013 after police inspectors said they should become commonplace.

Yet they have been drawn from their holsters no more than 13 times.

A Taser was discharged on a suspect just once, during an incident in 2011 which was not within the force's normal remit.

Seven Tasers were aimed using a ‘red dot’ laser sight, and the remaining five were drawn but not aimed. Not a single Taser was drawn from its holster in 2013.

Those figures could now fall even further after Home Secretary Theresa May called for the use of Tasers to be reviewed amid claims they are used too much on vulnerable people.

A report found 30 per cent of people Tasered in London in 2011 had mental health issues – and half were from ethnic minorities.

Mrs May told a summit in October: 'Imagine what it is like for the thousands of people with mental health problems, learning disabilities or other vulnerabilities who regularly encounter the police… people who are confused, distressed and disorientated.

And then imagine if that encounter also leads to physical restraint, or even being Tasered by the police.

'Imagine being transported to hospital not in an ambulance, but in the back of a police car. Or being detained in a police cell rather than a health-based place of safety or mental health ward.

'That encounter must be terrifying.' 

The X26-series weapons currently cost £1,050 each and are made by the U.S. firm Taser International in a 100,000 sq ft complex in Scottsdale, Arizona.

They are already common in U.S. police forces and the firm, whose motto is ‘Protect Life. Protect Truth’, claims they have ‘transformed law enforcement and become a vital tool’.

But despite bringing down injury rates in U.S. states where they are used instead of guns, the weapons have been at the centre of several scandals.

A British father died of severe burns after police Tasered him – despite the fact he had doused himself in petrol.

Andrew Pimlott, 32, was set on fire by the 50,000-volt charge outside his Plymouth home where he had threatened to take his own life.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission immediately launched an investigation into the 2013 incident and has since handed a file to prosecutors.

The Ministry of Defence police force has around 2,600 officers, the vast majority of whom are armed, guarding more than 50 strategic sites across the UK including army, navy and RAF bases.

Officers also guard the MoD offices in Whitehall, the 35-acre Royal Mint headquarters in Llantrisant, south Wales, the Aldermaston Nuclear Weapons Research facility in Berkshire and nuclear submarine bases on the River Clyde.

Responding to today's figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, the MoD insisted Tasers were needed as a non-lethal alternative to guns. 

But the costs were slammed by campaigners and Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker.

Mr Coaker told MailOnline: 'It seems strange that despite Tasers being used just a handful of times since 2007, the Ministry of Defence has ordered 217 in the last 18 months.

'Why does the MoD Police need increased Taser capability, given how little it is used and the fact that officers already armed?

'Over 90 per cent of the Defence Police carry firearms as part of their duties, enabling officers to protect themselves as well as the assets and personnel they are guarding.

'Is this just another example of chaotic defence procurement that has seen millions of pounds wasted under this Government? British taxpayers will want to know the answer.'

Campaigning lawyer Sophie Khan, who brought a landmark High Court case in 2013 accusing the Metropolitan Police’s Taser roll-out of being unlawful, said: ‘There is a concern about why they have bought so many, where obviously there’s not a need for them.

‘The MoD police are facing financial issues and the money obviously could have been spent in other areas – training, equipment or safety.

‘Given the Home Secretary’s speech in October, the likelihood is there’s going to be a decrease in the coming years because she’s very concerned about them.

‘It’s going to be a lot of wasted money if the Home Secretary comes back after the review and says “we only need one Taser for X number of officers”.’ 

Amnesty International UK Arms Control Director Oliver Sprague added: 'Tasers are potentially lethal weapons and we’ve always said they should only be used when there’s a clear threat to life or of serious injury, and only as a last resort by high-trained law-enforcement officers.

'What’s baffling here is why the MOD police are spending vast amounts of money on a weapon for which there seems to be so little need.

'We’re already worried by the way our police authorities seem to think that more and more weaponry is the solution to every policing problem.

'We only want to see the police and the MOD purchasing Tasers if there’s a clearly demonstrated security and policing need.' 

The Ministry of Defence said the increase in Taser numbers was recommended by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

'HM Inspector of Constabulary did a routine police firearms inspection in 2013 and recommended that all front-line officers (forward facing or public facing eg on the steps of Main Building) be trained to use Tasers, as a “less lethal” option to the use of firearms,' a spokesman said.

'It is mandatory in the police world for firearms officers to have a range of other options to deploy, to reduce the potential for recourse to conventional weapons.

'Currently there are fewer than 400 Tasers in the Force, and the stock is shared.

'Obviously a number are used in standard police training, and some will be damaged and need to be replaced on a continuous basis.' 

The spokesman added a Taser was discharged once by the force in 2011, during a domestic incident in which a man with a knife was threatening two women.

The incident was not within the normal remit of MoD police, but officers were tasked because they were nearby and 'successfully defused a life-threatening situation'.

'MoD Police train all Authorised Firearms Officers in the use of Taser in accordance with national armed policing policy. 

'The MoD’s Police Committee, which is independently chaired, and whose role is to oversee the proper functioning of the MDP, supports the recommendation from HM inspectorate of Police (HMIC) in 2013, that MOD Police increase Taser training to all public-facing officers, and is tracking progress on its implementation.'

2007/08 – 39 (Cost: £31,200)

2009/10 – 49 (£45,325)

2010/11 – 20 (£19,500)

2011/12 – 30 (£29,350)

2012/13 – 8 (£7,960)

2013/14 – 67 (£70,350)

2014/15 – 150 (£157,500)

TOTAL – 363 (£361,185)


2008 – Drawn: 1  Aimed: 2  Discharged: 0

2009 – Drawn: 0  Aimed: 0  Discharged: 0 

2010 – Drawn: 1  Aimed: 1  Discharged: 0 

2011 – Drawn: 3  Aimed: 1  Discharged: 1 

2012 – Drawn: 0  Aimed: 1  Discharged: 0 

2013 – Drawn: 0  Aimed: 0  Discharged: 0 

2014 – Drawn: 0  Aimed: 2  Discharged: 0 

TOTAL – Drawn: 5  Aimed: 7  Discharged: 1

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