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From Monday 4 March Sussex Police will be joining other forces around the country in allowing some specially trained non-firearms officers to be able to use Taser.
(See a Taser demonstration at the bottom of the page)
Previously Sussex Police was one of a small number of forces which restricted the use of Taser to authorised firearms officers only. After monitoring other forces who allow non-firearms officers to carry Taser Sussex Police will be rolling its use out to some other officers who have received special training.
Around 160 officers from local response and support teams have now received, or are receiving, training to use Taser in situations where there is a real threat of violence. This means around eight per cent of the Force will be trained in the use of Taser, compared to the national average of around 11.5 per cent.
Once trained, the officers will be available to deploy with Taser to support colleagues dealing with violent or threatening situations and will reduce the number of times armed response units are deployed.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison of Sussex Police's Operations Department said: "Experience shows that simply the presence of Taser acts as a deterrent to the escalation of violence. The majority of incidents where there is a possibility of using Taser, end without it being discharged. Studies have also showed that the presence of Taser reduces the levels of force required by officers in violent situations avoiding, for example, the use of a baton or captor. In a significant number of cases simply the drawing and aiming of Taser is enough incentive for the person posing the threat to comply with officers.
"The majority of people will not see any change in day-to-day policing. Patrols by officers and PCSOs will continue as normal, however in the event of a violent situation they may now request Taser support by colleagues locally, rather than from firearms officers who are based at central locations.
"Authority to use Taser will still have to be granted by senior officers, as has always been the case, and it is not the first option. Officers have a range of skills and tactics they can choose from and the most appropriate option for the circumstances will be used.
"The decision to roll out Tasers to non-firearms officers is not an indication that the threat of violence has increased in Sussex but a way of enabling us to deploy Taser trained officers more quickly to situations where they are needed to protect the public.
"An equivalent of a 'black box' is stored within the Taser so that each deployment can be monitored and processes are in place to make sure this is done lawfully and in accordance with training.
"All the officers who will be authorised to carry Taser undertake an intense week-long training course. The course includes theory alongside practical exercises and examines their decision making processes in pressured situations.
"To be qualified to carry Taser an officer must pass this course, which includes a number of assessments".