Berkshire

Taser roll out amid Thames Valley officer assault rise

Officer with Taser Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thames Valley Police Federation announced 390 officers would be Taser-trained

A police force will issue Tasers to more frontline officers amid an increase in assaults on constables.

Thames Valley Police is set to Taser-train 130 response officers to take the total number equipped to handle the stun gun to 390, a 50% increase.

The force's federation announced the decision after a meeting with the Chief Constable Francis Habgood.

PC Craig O'Leary said 900 assaults on Thames Valley officers had been recorded since February 2017.

The federation chairman added it was "imperative" officers "are afforded the best possible training and equipment in order to keep themselves and the public safe".

He said: "An assault on a police officer is an assault on society and should never be viewed as just part of the job.

"This is a really positive step not only for our police officers but also the public, so that we will have properly equipped officers to keep them safe out there on the streets."

'High tension'

Currently 260 frontline officers are trained in using Tasers and the uplift in those armed with the weapon is hoped to be completed over the next two years, the federation said.

PC O'Leary said he expected the number of assaults on officers to "exceed" the 2016-17 total of 850, after reports fell from 868 in 2015-16.

He added "should the picture change in the future", the force could "move to a point where perhaps all frontline officers carry Tasers".

The federation said the roll out would help officers resolve "high tension, high threat situations".

Thames Valley Police did not provide a response to the BBC.

Hampshire Constabulary said it would double the number of Taser-trained staff to 620 in January.

Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said the deployment would be "one of the largest in the country".

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