West Yorkshire police officers back front-line Taser call
More than 90% of West Yorkshire police officers want to see Tasers routinely issued to colleagues on front-line duty, according to a new survey.
The poll, carried out by West Yorkshire Police Federation, found 1,417 of the 1,563 officers asked backed the idea.
A second survey of 5,939 people in the county found 86% supported the proposal.
West Yorkshire Police said arming officers with Tasers was "not something to be taken lightly".
Under the force's current policy only officers assigned to certain duties are authorised to carry a Taser and only once they have undergone the appropriate training.
Nick Smart, Chairman of the Federation, said: "Given the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, and the changing nature of threats faced by police officers nationally, this was an important survey and has provided some clear results.
"It is apparent that an overwhelming majority of police officers and the public we serve believe police officers should be routinely carrying a Taser when on patrol.
"And that - while many officers do not want to be routinely armed - there is a distinct desire need to increase the number of armed colleagues available."
'Deter an attack'
According to the results, 86% of those surveyed said they would feel safer if they carried a Taser.
The same number said they believed officers would be better able to protect the public if they were carrying the device.
In reference to officers carrying guns, 65% wanted to remain unarmed but supported any increase in the number of firearms officers.
Sophie Khan, solicitor and director of legal and policy at the Police Action Centre, an organisation that campaigns against excessive use of Tasers, said: "The arming of all front-line police officers goes against the fundamental principles of policing by consent to policing by force.
"The safety of the public is paramount and, as Tasers have been linked to deaths and serious injuries, the routine arming of front-line police officers with Tasers would be in contravention of Article 2- the right to life."
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle said the force would discuss the findings with the Federation.
"Routinely equipping officers with Tasers is not something that is taken lightly, and we must ensure that those who are given these means are properly trained to use them and only when absolutely necessary," he said.
"Officers are accountable for ensuring that their use of force is proportionate to the situation and only applied when necessary, but we also recognise that assaults on police officers are increasing and it is important that we take positive action to reduce the number of attacks.
"One assault on a police officer is one too many and if more officers carrying a Taser is likely to deter an attack then it is something that must be considered."