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Tasers discharged five times in Hackney since borough-wide roll out

PUBLISHED: 15:50 06 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:50 06 October 2014

A taser gun. Picture: Polly Hancock

A taser gun. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Tasers have been discharged five times since their use was approved for use in the borough last June, including an episode with a psychotic schizophrenic man threatening to kill his wife, and against a man caught drink driving who assaulted the police officers who stopped him.

The figures emerged in a report drawn up by Supt Andy Walker for the council’s community safety scrutiny commission.

Many people were uneasy with last year’s decision to arm up to 40 specially trained officers in every London borough with the controversial and potentially lethal electro-shock weapon – which can shoot out 50,000 volts when fired.

The supposedly non-lethal stun guns have been linked with at least one high-profile fatality.

But the Met claimed that in around 85 per cent of all cases in London, the mere presence of a Taser has been enough to bring a potentially violent situation to a swift conclusion – without having to be deployed.

Episodes in which Tasers have been deployed include one last October when a drunk schizophrenic man who had stopped taking his medication was threatening to kill his wife in a psychotic episode.

She called police, and the man charged at an officer brandishing a heavy plant pot above his head, before a colleague fired at the man to stop the attack.

In April a man stabbed a knife into the counter at Stoke Newington Police Station before an officer discharged a Taser and arrested him for public order offences.

In June an intoxicated man pulled over in his car by police attacked the two officers and when backup arrived a violent struggle was in progress on the floor.

The Taser barbs were fired at short range into the small of the man’s back, bringing the struggle to an end.

Another incident in July saw two hooded burglars in a commercial premises where the alarm was sounding start to attack police with a crowbar and a chair, before a Taser was fired and they were arrested for burglary.

And in January a woman threatening to commit suicide and found holding a piece of glass to her wrists at home was incapacitated by the Taser and taken to hospital.

Supt Andy Walker from Hackney police said: “Hackney police officers attend around 1,200 calls from the public every week.

“Many of these calls require officers to stand in harm’s way to protect people from danger.

“In most cases, officers rely on nothing more than their communication skills – the use of force is always a last resort.”

Since June 17 2013, a maximum of four officers in two vehicles have been equipped with Tasers 24/7, and the guns have been withdrawn from their holsters 103 times, aimed at a subject 44 times and discharged five times.


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