London Assembly Member Baroness Jenny Jones has called for the Met’s entire stock of Taser weapons to be routinely fitted with video cameras in a bid to ensure officer accountability.
Over the past 18 months there has been a fourfold increase in the number of times officers drew their Tasers.
The rise in use appears to coincide with a decision to increase the number of officers carrying the ‘less lethal’ weapons.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe sanctioned the increased availability amid concerns that unarmed officers were waiting too long for back-up.
As a result of the policy change there are now two Taser equipped vehicles patrolling 24-hours a day in each of the 32 boroughs the Met polices.
Assembly Members of all parties have repeatedly expressed concern that the weapons could be used as ‘compliance tools’ by officers to ensure suspects and detainees comply with instructions even where there’s no risk to officers or the public.
Baroness Jones wants the Met to purchase ‘Taser-cam’ – a small camera which is made by the weapon’s manufacturers and records both video and audio when the Taser is drawn.
Taser’s UK website says the attachment “is activated any time the safety is in the off position” and captures “vital audio and video information prior to, during, and after” the weapon’s use.
The force is already equipping its fleet of vans with video cameras and is trialling the use of body-worn cameras to help reduce groundless complaints against officers while providing evidence of any wrongdoing and make it easier and cheaper to convict criminals.
Speaking to MayorWatch, Baroness Jones said the introduction of Taser mounted cameras “would be a positive step and would help rebuild trust in the police.”
She added: “Their introduction would improve the accountability of individual officers and recording their deployment would bring in an element of objectivity to the encounter which is positive for the police and the public, providing they are switched on at the right time.”