Scotland Yard’s decision to increase the number of officers carrying Tasers is to be investigated by the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee.
In November 2011 Assembly Members expressed concern after Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe used a radio appearance to suggest that “every police car” be equipped with the stun guns.
At the time of the Commissioner’s comments, the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) was required to approve the use of ‘less lethal’ weaponry such as Tasers.
The MPA had previously recommended that use of the weapon be restricted to specialist firearms officers and Territorial Support Group officers and a number of MPA members criticised Hogan-Howe for his unsanctioned comments.
However in January 2012, following the abolition of the MPA, Sir Bernard announced that the number of officers carrying Taser would increase with 40 officers per borough specially trained in their use.
The Met says a maximum of four officers will be carrying the weapons at any one time per borough, and that its total Taser stock will increase to approximately 1,590.
The Police and Crime Committee is to investigate both how the decision was reached and how the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is monitoring the use of ‘less lethal’ weapons.
Launching the review, Committee Chair Joanne McCartney AM said: “The decision to expand the deployment of Taser in London may have significant implications for the relationship between our traditionally unarmed police service and the public they are here to protect.
“While the police must have the necessary tools to protect officers in the sometime dangerous situations they face, the use of so called ‘less lethal’ weapons on our streets needs to be closely monitored.
“This investigation will look at how the new arrangements for governing policing in London are ensuring a balanced approach to the risks of vastly increasing the number of Tasers available to the Met.”