Police Chief Promises More Tasers for Frontline After Officer Almost Killed in Attack

February 3, 2021 Updated: February 3, 2021

A UK regional police chief has promised Tasers for all his frontline police after one of his officers was attacked on duty and narrowly escaped with his life.

Nick Adderley, the chief constable of Northamptonshire police, made the pledge on Monday after the officer was saved from being strangled to death when a colleague deployed a Taser on his assailant.

“Over the weekend a Northants officer was forced to the ground and strangled to the point that they nearly lost consciousness,” Adderley wrote on Twitter.

“Due to the size of the offender, strikes proved ineffective, PAVA [pepper-like spray] was also ineffective. Thank goodness his colleague had Taser, which saved his life.”

“The argument of ‘necessity’ to issue [a] Taser to every officer who wants one, ends right here,” Adderley wrote in a separate tweet.

“Today I may well have been speaking to the next of kin of my officer, delivering devastating news. Officers deserve all the protection we can give them. I will do exactly that!!” he added.

There has been a growing move to arm the UK’s police forces with more tasers in recent years.

In 2019, amid increasing attacks on officers, Adderley’s Northamptonshire force announced it would spearhead the move, expecting it to take around 18 months for all its frontline officers to have access to a Taser while on duty.

The force said in a statement at the time that the around £600 ($800) training bill per officer “pales into insignificance” when compared with the cost of police officer workdays lost due to sickness and injury.

‘Less Lethal Option’

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), which represents around 130,000 rank and file police officers nationwide, said in a statement that it “strongly supports the wider roll-out of Taser to all frontline officers should they wish to be equipped with it.”

“Taser is an extremely effective means of dealing with the many dangerous situations that officers often face on the streets and is a less lethal option than more conventional firearms,” the PFEW said.

In an earlier statement in 2019, the PFEW said that two snapshot polls carried out that year showed widespread officer as well as public support for arming the police with Tasers.

At the time, the poll of its members showed 89 percent wanted to carry the weapon routinely, and 97 percent wanted their colleagues to be allowed to carry it.

In the other poll conducted simultaneously by LBC Radio, 73 percent of 2,000 members of the public said the police should be able to carry a Taser.

Other officer and public polls in 2016 and 2017 showed similar levels of support for taser deployment, the PFEW said.

The polls followed a unanimous 2015 vote by the PFEW in favor of a large-scale rollout of Taser use across forces.

“That stance has remained unchanged,” the PFEW said.

The Home Office also supports increased Taser rollout, and in 2019 ringfenced £10 million ($13.6 million) to “significantly increase the number of officers carrying the devices in England and Wales.”

The move to deploy Tasers more widely met with opposition in April last year amid claims that the weapon was being used disproportionately against Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people, and rights groups saying impacts on minority ethnic groups were being ignored.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council announced an “Independent Review into Disproportionate Effects of Use of Taser” in December 2020. It is set to initially run for around 12 months.