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Are Tasers being used for social control asks Hackney campaigner, warning of “death on the streets”

PUBLISHED: 12:58 29 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:58 29 April 2013

Taser stun guns. Life-saving deterrent or lethal weapon?

Taser stun guns. Life-saving deterrent or lethal weapon?

Archant

A campaigner has warned there will be “death on the streets” – as 40 Hackney police officers are this month trained to use Taser guns.

The Met is training officers in every London borough to use the controversial and potentially lethal weapon – which can shoot out 50,000 volts.

Opponents of the Taser say the Met has not carried out a public consultation on their use.

On Tuesday night supporters of the Hackney Taser Campaign – set up by youth worker Emeka Egbuonu and the Stop Criminalising Hackney Youth (SCHY) group – discussed concerns over an expected increase in the use of the weapon.

Sophie Khan, solicitor and director of the Police Action Centre, told the public meeting in Chat’s Palace, Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton, about the judicial review she is bringing against the Met and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

She said: “It’s very much been hidden behind private letters between the Mayor and the Commissioner. There aren’t the reports that are usually produced, so people aren’t aware why there is this increase in Tasers.

Restrictions

“The Metropolitan Police Authority were opposed to the use of Tasers and when it was dissolved last year the Mayor’s office pushed it through.”

She added: “There has to be some accountability as to why that decision was made and if that decision wasn’t made properly there have to be restrictions as to the roll out. And if the public don’t want this, then to roll back.”

Youth advocate and Hackney trade unionist, Dean Ryan, believes Tasers are being introduced as a means of “social control”.

He said: “Two years ago Sir Bernard Hogan Howe said that in the age of austerity we are going to see more social unrest and more protest.

“He was trying to say he didn’t want cuts to the police force – but the Tasers are coming out now at a time when the government are scared.

“There are 1.6m people between the ages of 16 and 24 unemployed in this country. We know there’s a lot of anger out there, we saw the flame of anger during the riots.

“If we don’t stop this we will see death on the streets,” he warned.

Cllr Angus Mulready-Jones said Tasers have been used 1,200 times since 2003: “Since that time five people have been killed through the use of tasers – police say those deaths were nothing to do with Tasers but it certainly didn’t help.”

A mother whose teenage son was Tasered 18 months ago in Hackney told the gathering her son had changed since his ordeal.

She said: “What could that do but harm him, harm his brain, harm everything in his body. It does actually scratch your body up, it makes your back bleed and they have to dig those barbs out with a knife.”

Trade Unionist Sacha Simic said it was necessary to fight the roll-out “tooth and nail”.

“Our councillors can get up and say we don’t want this, we’ve got to show solidarity with our kids,” he said.

“This isn’t going to be used in Mayfair, this isn’t going to be used in Kensington, this is going to be used in Tottenham and Hackney and we should say they can stuff it.”


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