Examination of Witnesses (Questions 48-114)|
ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE SIMON CHESTERMAN AND ASSISTANT
CHIEF CONSTABLE ANDY ADAMS
7 DECEMBER 2010
Mr Chesterman and Mr Adams, thank you for coming. You have obviously
heard the evidence that Mr Coles has just given. Is there anything
you would like to say as a result of what you have just heard
about the general rules governing the supply of Tasers? Mr Chesterman,
you are the ACPO lead?
I am the ACPO lead, yes.
I think the thing that is important to point out
is that there are very strict rules governing the procurement
of Tasers in this country. A Home Office code of practice clearly
covers the rules around what we can and can't do. We have a very
stringent testing regime with the Home Office Scientific Development
Branch. Also, there is a body called DOMILLthe Defence
Scientific Advisory Council's Sub-committee on the Medical Implications
of Less-lethal Weapons, who advise the Government on the safety
of these articles. So anything that is used by police forces must
be covered by the code of practice, and must be tested by HOSDB
and approved through that process.
We don't have Northumbria here today and we don't have Lincolnshire
here today, so hopefully, in a sense, you will be able to answer
some questions about the police side of this. Is there a problem
at the moment in procuring Tasers? Does every police force have
sufficient numbers of Tasers?
When the section 5 authority was removed from Pro-Tect, my office
did an audit nationally to find out what sort of stocks were out
there and to see at what point we were going to start running
low. I think it is important to understand that for the actual
body of the Taser itselfthe X26there are plenty
of those in the possession of police forces across the United
Kingdom. But, of course, the cartridges are consumables, and they
will be consumed when officers are trained and reaccredited, because
officers that are trained to use Taser have to be reaccredited
every year, which means they will have to fire cartridges during
the process of that reaccreditation. So the audit showed that
eventually, obviously, we were going to run out, and we had probably
about a three-month period within which we would use
Run out of Tasers or cartridges?
Run out of cartridges.
Right. When will we run out of cartridges?
Probably early in the new year would be the issue. Different forces
are clearly in different positions, because some have better stocks
than others, but we do know that within the next six months we
are going to need something like 22,000 live cartridges and about
23,500 training cartridges to keep things going and to keep Taser
in the hands of the officers that are trained to use it.
In the last Parliament, members of the Committee looked at a Taser
demonstration and the amount of training that goes in. But it
appears you are going to have quite a severe shortage of cartridges.
There is certainly the potential for that, yes. As I say, the
audit revealed that some forces had lower stocks than others,
and we were in a position of putting come contingencies in place
to make sure that if a force ran out we could supplement them
from somewhere else.
When you say "we", who is "we"? ACPO?
Yes, ACPO; myself as the ACPO lead.
You, as the ACPO leadI thought it was a policy leadare
able to ring up Leicestershire and say, "You only have 10
cartridges left" and then ring up Northamptonshire and say,
"Give Leicestershire 100 cartridges"?
Well, we can ask and, as I said, it was quite clear that some
forces had greater stocks than others. It didn't come to that,
but one of the contingencies would have been to contact forces
with greater stocks and say, "There is a critical need in
another part of the country, are you prepared to ship some stock
across to them?" It didn't come to that in the end, but there
was real potential for that.
What will you do about this shortage? We come to a situation now
where Pro-Tect will come to the end of its contract on 31 December.
At the moment they have 272 Tasers in stock. Mr Coles is obviously
going to try and get rid of them in whatever way he cansell
them off to various forces. What is going to happen to the Tasers
that are left on his shelves?
Clearly I think that is a commercial decision between Mr Coles
and the new company that has been granted the licence.
Because he seems to think the Home Office is involved in this.
That is clearly something you will have to ask the Home Office
officials who are present here today, but I mean clearly he
But ACPO doesn't have a view on this, because they normally have
a view on everything?
No, we don't have a view on this. Clearly there is some stock
there that I am sure Mr Coles would be keen to get rid of.
Do you have a thought as to what might happen to these 272 extra
In my opinionif you ask my opinionthese Tasers could
be transferred across to the new company or they could be procured
by the Home Office on behalf of the Police Service, so that we
can use them. The requirement for the new X26the actual
body of the X26is clearly a lot less than the consumables.
Chair: I think Mr Reckless is eager to
answer a question on this.
Q59 Mark Reckless:
Mr Chesterman, in my role as a member of the Kent Police Authority,
which I declared earlier, members of the senior team at the force
raised issues about the Taser with me, and the monopoly supply
and difficulty of getting hold of appropriate cartridges particularly,
as we've heard. As the Home Affairs Committee, we're looking at
this, because we understood it was a responsibility of the Home
Office. On what basis have ACPO been dealing with this? I don't
Sorry, I might have misled you. I am saying that when we knew
that the Home Office had removed the licence, we conducted an
audit to see what stocks were out there, because clearly we were
very keen to make sure that if individual forces ran low, we could
invoke a contingency to make sure that we spread the stocks across
the country. That is something that I took responsibility for,
as the ACPO lead, to make sure we did not run out. Clearly I was
working very closely with the Home Officein regular contact
while we were doing that.
Q60 Mark Reckless:
Who gave ACPO responsibility to check around the country and start
transferring stocks of Tasers from one force to the other?
Okay. The Home Office is the short answer. We were asked to conduct
the audit, which we did. The reason we were asked to do it was
that because my office also leads on firearms, we have a very
good network of contacts among the individual forcestheir
firearms leads. So I was able very quickly, through a national
circular, to find out the information that the Home Office required.
Q61 Mark Reckless:
Who asked you at the Home Office and when did this happen? Assuming
it's in writing, can this Committee have a copy of that instruction
to you, please?
Yes, clearly I have an audit trail that says that the audit is
required, so clearly I could provide that to youthat wouldn't
be a problembut it didn't come to redistribution of the
cartridges. It was purely an audit to find out where the stocks
were and, if it had become critical, clearly we would have worked
with the Home Office to assist in the redistribution of cartridges,
if that was indeed the requirement.
Q62 Dr Huppert:
I have found this session fascinating; every answer raises many,
many more questions. Before I get onto my main question, I am
still stunned you need 22,000 live Taser cartridges in the next
The next six months, yes.
Q63 Dr Huppert:
Are there 22,000 firings you're expecting?
No, that is not the case. What happens is that each individual
Taser officerthere are probably about 10,000 officers in
the country now who are trained in the use of Taserobviously
has to go through their initial training, which takes 18 hours,
and then they are reaccredited for six hours on an annual basis.
In each reaccreditation, the national recommendation is that they
discharge a minimum of 10 cartridges.
Q64 Dr Huppert:
But those are presumably training cartridges, because you spoke
about 23,000 training cartridges as well.
Yes, but they also have to demonstrate competence in using live
cartridges, because there is some difference between the discharging
of the two cartridges.
Q65 Dr Huppert:
Okay. I am still fascinated, but I will move on to what I was
going to ask.
First, Cambridgeshire County Council, my own local
police authority, currently has 150 unwanted Tasers that were
given by the Home Office to an authority that simply did not want,
on principle, to give Tasers to non-firearms trained officers.
If people are looking for Tasers, I believe Cambridgeshire has
some spare that are sitting in a cupboard somewhere.
On a slightly broader issue, we have had in this
Committee a number of discussions about operational decisions
and who makes them. In the new world that we're going to have
with police and crime commissioners, or even in the current one
with police authorities versus a chief constable, whose decision
ought it to be about whether to deploy Tasers to non-firearms
trained police officers and to use Tasers? Where does all of that
fit into operational independence?
From my own perspective, as the ACPO lead, I think that much in
the use of Taser depends on demographics. It depends on whether
you are a small urban environment or a large sprawling rural environmentthat
kind of thing. There are a number of dependables that people will
need to take into consideration. But, to answer your question,
I believe this is an operational matter for the chief constable.
Q66 Dr Huppert:
You do not think a commissioner or a police authority would have
the ability to say, "We believe that people who have not
been trained to use firearms should not be using Tasers"?
You're asking my personal opinion. I believe it is an operational
decision for the chief constable.
Alun Michael: Just before
we go onto other questions can I be
Just one second. Mr Adams, if you wish to chip in, please feel
free to do so. Don't feel you are just here for decorative purposes.
Andy Adams: Thank
you. I was being very polite and waiting for you to ask me a
question. May I just extend the answer given in response to your
question, Dr Huppert?
The operational decision to extend to non-firearms
officers is obviously a decision that is made by the chief constable.
In our own force, when we did that, we went through an exercise
of doing public consultation to understand whether the public
supported the extension. Because the extension involved the implementation
with additional finance, it was routed though the police authority
as well. We have just done a post-implementation review on that,
which the police authority sanctioned and reviewed, so there is
an operational element to that, but also a scrutiny element that
is exercised by the police authority.
Q68 Mr Burley:
Can I ask a follow up question, in terms of going out to consultation
with the public and then the police authority having a final say
on it? In 18 months' time, in the new world of police and crime
commissioners, would you see it as their democratic mandate, if
they have been elected on a platform involving, for example, saying
that no untrained firearms officer should carry a Taser that,
on 7 May 2012 they are entitled to tell the chief constable that
they have a mandate democratically to overrule him if, for example,
he has decided that non-trained officers could carry Tasers?
Andy Adams: I think
my answer to that would be that, under the present arrangements,
we went to consultation with the public; we explained the rationale
to the police authority; the decision was made by the chief constable
and explained to the police authority, and the police authority
have exercised scrutiny. I'm not in a position to answer the question
around what the future might look like and the responsibility
of the commissioner against the chief constable. But certainly
there is an operational decision here which, as my colleague has
said, was made by the chief constable.
Q69 Mr Burley:
But you can understand the scenario. If the general public in
an area are worried about non-firearm trained officers carrying
Tasers in their police force, and a member of the publicwho
might be sat behind you nowdecides to stand to be the police
and crime commissioner in that area, and part of their leaflets
and their manifesto is that they will fight to stop that happening,
you can see where the conflict potentially comes in
Chair: Mr Burley, I believe
you had a quick question.
Mr Burley: Yes. Do you
think that they have that right?
Andy Adams: In
answer to your question, 88% of the people that we spoke to agreed
that Taser was a useful way to dissuade potentially violent people
from being violent, and 83% agreed that Taser improves officer
and public safety. We had a clear mandate from the public to extend
to non-firearms officers.
Chair: My apologies to
you, Mr Michael. My intervention has caused this little sideshow.
Alun Michael: You stimulate
excitement wherever you go, Chair.
Chair: The floor is yours.
Q70 Alun Michael:
Before going forward, can I just go back to one element? Mr Chesterman
referred to the careful control of these items but, as we heard
earlier, the Taser company itself seems to be a little less specific,
referring generically to items. The problem seems to be in the
supply of the X12, with extra cartridges. Is there clarity about
what is supplied and used by police forces now? I take it that
there wasn't some time ago, but is it all clear now as to what
is authorised, and what is not authorised but can be used at the
discretion of the chief constable, as I understand it?
Yes, my belief is we have made it as clear as possible. Mr Coles
is absolutely right that "Taser" is a generic term that
describes a range of products, but the actual authoritythe
approval from HOSDB, DOMILL and the Home Office, covered by the
Home Office codeis for the X26.
Q71 Alun Michael:
Yes, but looking forward, will it be absolutely clear that authorisation,
under the regulatory system, is specific to specific pieces of
kit and others would fall out of that? Although of course, as
I understand it, there is the discretion of chief constables to
authorise items even if they haven't been through that process.
Is that all clear now?
Yes, it is, and my belief is that it's been clear for some time.
Q72 Alun Michael:
Could you take us now to the use of Tasers and the training of
officers who are authorised to use them? Can you explain precisely
what the current requirements and authorisation are for the carrying
Yes. Okay. Clearly the Tasers are carried by two groups of people:
either people who are already authorised firearms officers, who
carry Taser as a less-lethal option in the same way that they
would carry things like the attenuated energy projectile, which
is otherwise known as a baton round. So they are trained, alongside
their firearms duties, to carry Taser as a less-lethal option
so they don't need to have recourse to lethal force. Also, the
guidelines allow officers and specially trained units to carry
Tasers as well, if they have completed the training.
Q73 Alun Michael:
Specially trained units?
Q74 Alun Michael:
Is that trained on firearms or not on firearms?
No, they're not firearms officers. These are officers who are
not firearms officers but form part of specially trained units
and who are eligible, through their training and accreditation,
to carry Tasers. As I said earlier, they would receive an initial
18 hours' training, and they're reaccredited annually, where they
have to have at least six hours contact on the training.
Q75 Dr Huppert:
As ever, there are more questions, but I will stick to one in
particular. In October last year, Taser International issued a
training bulletinI think Training Bulletin 15which
advised avoiding chest shots and that that advice should go out.
Was that advice given to all UK police officers, because I haven't
been able to find an update to the ACPO operational guidance that
Yes. That guidance was given out in relation to one specific case
in the United States involving a lad called Robert Mitchell, who
tragically died after a Taser discharge. It's the only case that
I can find internationally where the autopsy report tends to indicate
that one of the contributory factors of death was the conducted
energy device. It turned out that Robert Mitchell had an underlying
heart defect. Taser did put out some advice. We received that
advice, and it all relates to point of aim.
In this country the recommended point of aim is the
central body mass, which clearly is the chest area. In the United
States, they were considering lowering the point of aim to avoid
the chest area. We referred that to our medical experts. As I
said earlier, we have the Defence Scientific Advisory Council
Sub-committee on the Medical Implications of Less-lethal Weapons.
It has been referred to them and the advice to date is that we
don't need to alter the point of aim in this country, so nothing
has been put out to police forces. We do put out regular advice
in relation to recommendations from DOMILL, such as caution in
relation to use of Taser against children and persons of small
stature, but to date we have not changed the point of aim.
Q76 Bridget Phillipson:
Could you explain the process by which an officer would be deployed
to use a Taserthe process by which it would be determined
that a Taser could be used or would be appropriate in those circumstances?
Certainly. There is no hierarchical use of force, so it's not
a matter of facing violence and trying various different levels
of defending yourself until you work your way up to Taser. Officers
are trained extensively in something we call "the conflict
management model", which is a decision-making model, and
they will use the most appropriate means with which to protect
the public or themselves. If that happens to be Taser and they're
carrying Taser, they don't have to try a baton first or some other
method. Clearly they will try and de-escalate the situation, but
they could ultimately go straight to Taser.
Taser is preauthorised by a firearms commander,
so the control room inspector, for example, in sending officers
to an incident might say Taser is authorised because there are
reports of people with a machete or something like that, so they
might authorise Taser on the way. But equally, if an officer is
carrying Taser and they're confronted with a violent situation,
they can self-authorise. They have to complete paperwork afterwards.
There is a very detailed audit trail in terms of their justification
for the use, which has to be centrally collated, and we look at
all the statistics.
Q77 Bridget Phillipson:
If a non-Taser carrying officer attended a scene, how would they
determine that a Taser could be used and how would they call for
the use of a Taser in that situation?
For a start, if the incident was such that the person despatching
the officers felt that Taser should be deployed to the sceneas
I said earlier, if it was a report of somebody with a machete,
for examplethere is every chance that they would deploy
Taser officers in the first instance, even if it's just to back
up the non-Taser officers. If non-Taser officers found themselves
at an incident that they felt required that level of protection,
they would clearly call for it over the radio and officers would
be despatched to support them.
Q78 Mr Winnick:
Mr Chesterman, there is a great deal of controversy at the moment
over the policing of public demonstrations. How far do you feel
that Tasers should be used in any circumstances in such demonstrations?
To give you a straight answer, I don't think it should. The national
guidance is that Taser should not be used in relation to public
demonstrations. It's not a pain compliance tool. It's clearly
to be used by officers who are facing severe violence from an
individual or individuals. In terms of making people comply with
instructions, it's not for that, it's not a pain compliance tool.
The other thing is you have to remember that the Taser will discharge
barbs connected to cables, and if you're firing it into a crowd,
you don't know where they're going to go and you can't retrieve
them afterwards, and for us it's a big no-no.
Q79 Mr Winnick:
So we can work on the reasonable assumption that in the current
climate of public protestthe students and othersthere
will be no question of Tasers being used?
I would say no, there shouldn't be a question of Tasers being
Q80 Mr Winnick:
You say, "No, there shouldn't be", so presumably you
can't give a firm commitment?
I can, sir. In general terms, I can give a firm commitment, but
of course there could be circumstances under which perhaps an
officer becomes isolated and is facing such severe violence and
personal attack if they have a Taser with them they might use
it, and clearly that would be heavily scrutinised afterwards.
But the ACPO guidance at the moment is that Taser is not an appropriate
tool to be used in relation to public protest.
Q81 Mr Winnick:
I welcome what you've just said. I take it that there are circumstances
where you clearly feel that Tasers are an appropriate weapon?
I think that Taser is not necessarily a safe option. It is less
injurious than many other methods of restraining a violent individual.
It has been proved to be very successful and has the cautious
support of bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission,
who sit on the Taser Working Group alongside me. It is a good
tool in terms of protecting the public and protecting our officers.
Q82 Mr Winnick:
Another colleague will be asking you a question about safety,
but would I be right in coming to the conclusion that the police
view is that Taser should be used only in very extreme circumstances?
The guidance is that Taser should only be used by an officer who
is facing violence of such severity that they need to protect
themselves, and clearly they will use the conflict management
model to make a decision as to the most appropriate level of force
to be used.
You have not fired a Taser yourself, Mr Chesterman.
Not at somebody, no. At a target I have, yes.
But have you been trained to use a Taser?
I haven't been trained, no. I have discharged a Taser at a target
What about you, Mr Adams?
Andy Adams: I haven't,
It may be a bit odd that sometimes the order is given to use a
Taser by senior officers who have never used them themselves.
Andy Adams: I think
the important aspect of this, Chair, is that every officer who
is deployed with a Taser is trained and has to go through a training
regime. They have to justify their actions and, as I say, their
actions have to be justified and proportionate to the level of
threat that they face.
I understand that; that's not my question, though, Mr Adams. My
question is that it may be a senior officer who says, "Fire
the Taser," not the officer concerned, and that senior officer
may never have been trained to use one. That's my question.
Andy Adams: The
decision around firing a Taser is obviously with the officer at
the time and they have to justify the use of it.
Just them? They make the decision?
Andy Adams: The
level of scrutiny around this is thatas my colleague saysevery
time they use force they have to fill out a form; the form is
subject to scrutiny. In our own force, when a Taser is discharged
and used, our professional standards department reviews that and
makes sure that it is proportionate.
Sure, but that is all after the event, isn't it? You fill in the
form not while you're about to fire the Taser; you fill in the
form afterwards. My question is: senior officers, who may be in
a situation where an officer fires a Taser, have not themselves
been trained to use the Taser. That was the question. The answer
must be yes.
Andy Adams: In
my circumstances, that is true, but the officers have been.
Chair: Yes, sure. That
bit I understand.
Q90 Dr Huppert:
Just following on from that scrutiny question, Chair, I understand
that the Home Office Scientific Development Branch has evaluated
a Taser-cam, which would record every use of a Taser, and it seemed
to be quite positive. It said the images were of usable quality.
Why isn't this in routine use in the UK to provide protectionfor
people when there might be a question about why they were shot,
and also for the police officers who fired them?
It's certainly something that is under active consideration, because
clearly any protection we can give officers in the post-incident
inquiry is important if it's open and transparent. I think one
of the issues with it is that the Taser-cam is only activated
at the immediate point just before the Taser is activated. So,
in terms of the officer's justification for discharging the Taser,
there may have been quite a build-up before that and all you're
going to get on the camera is somebody being Tasered and not necessarily
the justification for that.
Q91 Steve McCabe:
I wanted to go quickly back to Mr Winnick's point about demonstrations.
The ACPO guidance is that Tasers shouldn't be used at demonstrations.
Why does the guidance not also say that officers policing demonstrations
shouldn't be carrying Tasers, because you did allude to the possible
risk of this happening?
Yes. Effectively, officers policing demonstrations shouldn't be
Q92 Steve McCabe:
But why doesn't the guidance say that so that there can't be any
doubt? If the ACPO view is you can't use them at a demonstration,
surely you should eliminate the risk of that happening.
Part of it is because sometimes, in policing a demonstration,
you can end up with officers engaged with the crowd who are not
part of policing that demonstration. I saw it for myself a couple
of weeks ago in the student demonstrations where there were clearly
officers allocated to police that demonstration but other officers
were being called to provide support. The officers who are allocated
to police the demonstration should not be carrying Taser, because
it's not an appropriate use, but you could find officers attending
the scene of public disorder who are carrying it. So it's quite
Q93 Steve McCabe:
So you can't rule out the risk? Despite what you said to Mr Winnick,
you can't rule out the risk of it being used against students?
No, of course I can't totally rule that out. It would depend on
the circumstances. If it was used, that would have to be very
carefully scrutinised and justification would have to be explained
And the forms to be filled in.
The all important forms.
Q95 Mark Reckless:
Mr Adams was appointed by, and is held to account by, the Kent
Police Authority. Mr Chesterman, how were you selected for your
lead role and who holds you to account for that?
I was selected by the ACPO lead on uniform operations and the
ACPO lead on police use of firearms. Effectively, what happens
within ACPO is that expressions of interest are sought and you
apply to take up the lead of a particular business area, and then
you're chosen by the chief constables who lead on these particular
Q96 Mark Reckless:
Is there any reporting back to the Home Office or police authorities?
Sorry, in what context?
Mark Reckless: As to who
holds what role and how they exercise it.
I believe so, yes. I'm also the ACPO lead on police use of firearmsthat
is widely knownand I report through the ACPO business area
On the issue of the safety of Tasers, are you both aware of the
case in France on 30 November where a man was shot with a Taser
and subsequently died?
Not specifically, no. I'm aware of cases like that, yes.
On 30 November, the BBC reported that an immigrant from Mali died
after the French police shot him twice with a Taser gun. He was
also tear-gassed and struck with a baton at the same timewe
don't know whether before or after he was Tasered. The exact cause
of death wasn't noted, despite all that. There was another case
in Australia at the end of October. In fact, research was conducted
by the Australian police about the use of Taser guns against people
with mental illness, and the report stated that it had been disproportionately
used against those with mental illnesses: 85% of the 83 incidents
when the Victoria force used Tasers involved people with a mental
illness. Are you aware of what is happening in other parts of
the world, because I'm surprised you didn't know about this shooting
Yes. We do receive reports from abroad in relation to specific
cases. We do carefully examine them, and I know that HOSDB, in
particular, are linked into their equivalents in these different
countries. So, in terms of the medical implications and the safety
of Taser, the Home Office Scientific Development Branch are very
well connected with that.
I understand that, but these are two very important things: the
study in Australia, and the death in France, which happened only
12 days ago. Should there not be a method by which this information
comes to you, since you have such a pivotal role in all this?
Yes. As I say, initially it would go to the Home Office Scientific
Development Branch. They sit on the working group as well. They
also sit on the DOMILL working group. Clearly, if there were implications
for the UKlike the Robert Mitchell case that I mentioned
earlier on with point of aimI would be made aware as the
But you're talking about working parties here. This is something
that occurred 12 days ago and a report that happened at the end
of October, which is quite important, and you appear to be unaware
of them. This is not any fault of your own, of course, but maybe
the information systems aren't getting to you quickly enough and
there are too many working parties on all this.
Andy Adams: I'm
not aware of the French case but certainly the Australian information
I am aware of. I know there are a number of recommendations contained
within that report.
Are there any that are relevant for us?
Andy Adams: I support
what Mr Chesterman is saying that when this information comes
out, we do look at it and scrutinise it. If I'm right in saying,
one of the Australian recommendations is that they should look
at the way the ACPO report form is used and that there should
be transparency around the way that they are using Taser. I think
you will find from the experiencecertainly the experience
that I have in Kentthat both the reporting mechanisms and
the transparency around the way we use Taser fits the criteria
of those recommendations. I know from Mr Chesterman's perspective,
as the ACPO lead in this area, that we are regularly looking at
these articles and the material and recommendations from them,
and I know that the Home Office are. I wasn't aware of the French
That's very helpful, but does it concern you that this detailed
studya five-year studyshows that 85% of the cases
involved someone with a mental illness?
Andy Adams: I think
what is important out of that study is that we look at it in the
context of UK policing and the way that we use our Tasers. I have
no doubt that is something the Home Office will be doing to see
if there are any lessons from the Victoria police experience and,
equally, if there is any experience that we can share with them
that will assist them in their work.
Yes, of course, but you know of no studies that we're conducting?
Is no research going on here?
We research just about every case in that because the forms are
filled inthey come in centrally to the Home Officewe
look for patterns. For example, if there were patterns with regard
to mental health, persons of small stature or use against juvenilesthat
kind of thingwe would pick that up.
But as far as you're aware, Mr Chestermanyou're obviously
the authority on thisdo you know of any Home Office research
similar to that in Australia or other countries that look at particular
incidents and try to get a pattern where there is a report and
we can understand better the use
That is an ongoing process and, as I say, the
You don't know of a particular report? We understand ongoing processes.
Andy Adams: No,
not a specificyes.
Q106 Mr Winnick:
There was a report by Amnesty International about the situation
in the United States where Tasers were used. Are you familiar
with that report at all?
Q107 Mr Winnick:
It did state that there 50 deaths in the United States linked
to the police use of Tasers. Two of the risks identified by Amnesty
are multiple or prolonged shocks, and strikes to the chest. Is
that more or less accepted by you and your colleagues as being
It is. That's a totally different policing context, in that across
the United States, Taser is effectively given to all officers.
The problem that the States have compared with us is that we have
an ACPO lead and an overarching national policy on this, and we
control it very tightly. Because there are something like 16,000
different policing organisations across the United States, their
overarching policy is not as stringent and as tight as ours. I
am aware of the Amnesty report. I'm also aware that Amnesty cautiously
supports the way in which the UK police use and deploy Taser.
Clearly it has some concerns about Taser, but it holds us up internationally
as a model of best practice, in terms of our policies and procedures,
and the tight control that we keep on this device in this country.
Q108 Mr Winnick:
Perhaps we will look at that report, Chair. But coming back to
Britain, does the case of Mr Brian Loan in October 2006 ring a
bell with you?
Not off the top of my head, no.
Q109 Mr Winnick:
He was Tasered and shot with a baton by Durham police during a
siege at his homeI don't know the circumstances other than
what I've just said. He was arrested, charged and bailed, and
died three days afterwards. The coroner ruled death by natural
causes, but the family maintain, rightly or wrongly, that the
use of Tasers contributed to his death, but you're not aware of
I'm not, no. Clearly the safety aspect of this is absolutely paramount,
and the risks associated with Taser. As I say, the guidance that
we've put out relates to persons of small stature and children,
but also there is a risk of secondary injury from falling, and
we're aware that the effects of neuromuscular incapacitation can
cause somebody to fall to the ground. If they do, they could bump
their head, so the guidance is very strong on that as well.
Q110 Dr Huppert:
On the subject of reports, as I'm sure you know, two years ago,
when the Home Office announced that Tasers would be rolled out,
it said there was an ACPO trial evaluation report that had happened
before. That doesn't seem to be freely available anywhere. One
of my constituents has been trying to get it through freedom of
information. As you know, ACPO is extremely resistant to the idea
of freedom of information. Will you be prepared to release that
report, both to this Committee and more broadly, as well as any
other reports that you've done? I think that would help with some
of the Chair's questions as well.
I think that's a question you must ask the Home Office because
clearly they were
Q111 Dr Huppert:
But it's an ACPO report.
I believe that the evaluations of the trials were carried out
by the Home Office.
Chair: We will ask the
Home Secretary next week.
Q112 Dr Huppert:
If it is ACPO's, you'll be happy to release it?
I haven't said that. I'm not sure what GPMS markings are on it
or anything, to be honest with you. I will obviously consider
Chair: We don't want to
speculate on the markings on this report. Dr Huppert, we will
ask the Home Secretary when she comes in next week.
Q113 Mr Burley:
Just a final question. If you go back to the world before Tasers,
is it the case, in any of these examples we've been discussing
this morning, that where they've been used, the only alternative
would have been for that person to have been shot with a gun?
What would have happened before the police had Tasers? I think
this sort of goes to the heart of the matter. There are obviously
health risks, and they may be dangerous for people who have a
heart condition or fall over or whatever, but is that ultimately
better than the alternative, which would have been that they would
have been shot with a live round?
I can say quite clearly, unfortunately, that yes, that would be
the case. I spent many hours talking to the parents of a young
man who was shot by police within the last year who wished that
we'd had Taser. He was armed with a samurai sword and was shot
by firearms officers, and the parents were very supportive of
Q114 Mr Burley:
This is ultimately about avoiding having to use a lethal force?
That's what it's all about, yes.
Chair: Mr Chesterton and
Mr Adams, thank you so much for coming in to give evidence today.
Your evidence has been very helpful. We're not planning to publish
the report imminently, so if there is information, based on anything
that we've asked you today, that you feel would be helpful, please
do let us have it. Thank you very much for coming.
1 Note by witness: Firstly, DOMILL does not
specify, and has not specified, the Taser point of aim. This is
a training and operational decision to be taken by the police
and reflected in ACPO's Policy and Guidance on Operational Use
DOMILL is still considering the medical
implications of Taser discharge administered through probes on
the chest, but has not yet finalised its opinion. As alluded to
by Mr Graham Smith in his evidence on 7 December, DOMILL is currently
preparing a sixth medical statement which will consider the medical
implications of Taser use based upon the latest scientific, medical
and operational information. Among the topics considered will
be application of Taser discharge to the chest. (Note continued
on next page)
Note by witness continued: To
date, no-one has approached ACC Simon Chesterman, as the ACPO
lead, to consider any further changes to the current operational