TASER is designed as a Less Lethal Weapon, to be used as a distance control device, to temporarily incapacitate a person through use of an electrical pulse, disrupting the body’s muscular motor nerves, which are required for maintaining posture and balance. This usually causes the person to go rigid or crumple to the ground, giving officers time to restrain them.
It projects a pair of barbs or darts attached to insulated wires, which attach to the subject’s skin or clothing. The device delivers its electrical charge in a five-second cycle which can be repeated, interrupted, or extended, if deemed proportionate, necessary and justified in the circumstances.
It is one of a number of tactical options available to police officers when dealing with an incident where there is the potential for harm – to potential victims and / or the public, the police officers themselves, or the subject.
The way a TASER is used by police officers is categorised into a range of escalating actions from drawing the device, through to it being discharged (i.e. fired, drive stunned or angled drive-stunned).
Types of use of TASER
Drawn: Drawing of Taser in circumstances where any person could reasonably perceive the action as a use of force.
Aimed: Deliberate aiming of the TASER at a targeted subject.
Red dot: The weapon is not fired. Instead, the Taser is deliberately aimed and then partially activated so that a laser red dot is placed onto the subject.
Arcing: Sparking of the TASER as a visible deterrent without aiming it or firing it.
Fired: The TASER is discharged with a live cartridge installed. When the trigger is pulled, the probes are fired towards the subject with the intention of completing an electrical circuit and delivering an incapacitating effect.
Angled Drive Stun: The officer discharges the weapon with a live cartridge installed. One or both probes may attach to the subject. The officer then holds the TASER against the subject’s body in a different area to the probe(s), in order to complete the electrical circuit and deliver an incapacitating effect.
Drive stun: As a last resort, the TASER is held against the subject’s body without a live cartridge installed, and the trigger is pulled with no probes being fired. Contact with the subject completes the electrical circuit which causes pain but does not deliver an incapacitating effect.
When police are required to use force to achieve a lawful objective, such as making a lawful arrest, acting in self-defence or protecting others, that force must be reasonable in the circumstances.
In South Yorkshire, there are approximately 400 officers authorised to carry and every officer has firstly received extensive specialist training. Each time a TASER is used all officers are required to submit a post usage report detailing the circumstances leading to TASER use and justifying their actions. These are then checked by TASER trained supervisors and all are then audited by the lead officer for firearms and TASER. In South Yorkshire TASERs are used considerably less than other similar forces.
2017 TASER satistics
*Members of the public not present at the time of discharge