Doubling of Taser officers in the West Midlands
West Midlands Police will double the number of officers armed
with Taser following a major security review.
There are currently 643 Taser trained officers in the West
Midlands including emergency response officers and all firearms
That number is likely to double to around 1,440 over the next 18
months as 50 per cent of all Response officers − PCs who respond to
999 emergencies - will be approved to carry the device. Officers in
other roles will also be trained including some neighbourhood beat
The move is part of the force's "round the clock efforts" to
keep people safe and was recommended by security experts following
a detailed analysis of local and national crime trends.
"We routinely review safety and security but the nature of the
threat we all face has changed of late," said Chief Constable
"We are seeing higher levels of violence and an increase in
"Our officers need something more than their baton if they're to
protect people effectively.
"As part of our round the clock efforts to keep people safe, we
will be significantly increasing the number of officers trained in
the use of Taser.
"We're still a long way off routinely arming PCs with Tasers but
we have to stay one step ahead of those who would seek to cause
In 2016 WMP officers deployed Taser on 854 occasions but only
fired them 162 times.
As well as an uplift in Taser numbers, the review recommended
changes to its deployment across the West Midlands.
The new plans will see greater coverage overall and an enhanced
capability around shopping centres and entertainment venues
including sporting arenas, concert venues and nightspots popular
with clubbers and diners.
The changes are preventative and are not based on specific
threats to the West Midlands.
"I appreciate this may cause some people concern, but I'd like
to reassure anyone worried about the changes that our use of Taser
is tightly controlled," added Chef Constable Thompson.
"Details of its use is routinely published on our website for
all to see, and the publicly elected Police and Crime Commissioner
holds me personally to account on behalf of the people of the West
"As an enhanced measure, we are working with the Police and
Crime Commissioner to put measures in place to increase
public scrutiny of our use of force through special panels made up
of local people."
The increase in Taser-carrying officers will coincide with the
introduction of the latest double-shot weapons which are capable of
firing twice before requiring a reload. Single-shot Tasers are
currently used by the force. The new system offers greater
protection for officers using the device to keep people safe from
A public consultation event held at police headquarters on
Monday 24 July was attended by around 50 local people, councillors,
medics and others.
The group were in support of the uplift and introduction of the
latest weapons when the training programme was explained along with
internal and public scrutiny which goes into the use of Taser.
The changes being implemented in the West Midlands are also
backed by the Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Police
Federation which represents rank and file officers.
Speaking about the changes, Assistant Police and Crime
Commissioner Dr Lynnette Kelly, said: "I fully back the decision to
increase the number of officers at West Midlands Police who carry
and are trained to use Tasers.
"Following the recent attacks in London and Manchester this move
is both sensible and proportionate.
"Here in the West Midlands our police regularly confront danger
with little more than a trusty baton. This increase in the number
of officers carrying Tasers will help address the balance, while
not undermining the long standing British tradition of unarmed
"Scrutiny of Taser usage is vital. We will ensure the footage
recorded by body worn cameras during Taser incidents is monitored
closely by panels made up of members of the public.
"We will maintain close oversight of Taser usage ensuring it is
used proportionately and fairly."
Tom Cuddeford, chairman of the West Midlands Police
Federation, said: "Our members are really clear, they want Taser.
On their behalf, the Federation have lobbied long and hard on this
matter both locally and nationally as part of our Protect the
"I welcome the Chief Constable's announcement and support his
desire to see the use of force subject to regular public
"The use of force is always a last resort, however, Taser gives
frontline officers more options to bring matters to a swift and
"Experience shows us that in most cases an officer merely
drawing the device from its holster, activating its laser target or
sounding the device's electrical charge is enough to resolve the
"The alternative is the use of a baton which can cause
catastrophic injuries or drafting in firearms officers who use
The full cost of the increase and introduction of the
double-shot device is now being calculated along with the timetable
for the changes and the training schedule. Existing police budgets
will pay for the uplift.