The drizzle was falling steadily when I arrived at the Taser training facility for Leicestershire Police. As I splashed across the car park, I was strangely glad to be here. The issue of taser use had been brought up several times with me during the election campaign, so I had wanted to get a look for myself at what training the police constables went through before being allowed to use tasers for real.
The facility was, in fact, a gym hall which had been temporarily converted. In one section police officers were sitting in several small groups, clustered around white boards while one of their number drew diagrams or scribbled notes. The other section was at first sight rather confusing. What looked to be gigantic gym mats were set up on end as if to form some sort of maze. The helpful chief training officer explained that in fact they were set up to mimic a two bedroomed flat – the gym mats forming the walls. Obvious, once somebody explains.
The constables who had been getting their briefings now approached, while another officer disappeared into the “flat”. Apparently the scenario involved a man who had been threatening his wife, both of whom were in the flat. I was allowed into the “flat” to see the set up. The “wife” took the form of a dummy lying on the floor in a pool of rather realistic blood – which turn out to be red plastic sheeting.
Back outside, I watched as the two police officers knocked on the “door” but got no reply. They then entered to be confronted by the man – who was doing a very good job of acting angry and belligerent. The officers edged into the “flat”, keeping the man under observation the entire time and seeking to talk him calmly into stepping to one side so that they could look for the missing wife. The angry man continued to shout and threaten the officers with physical violence. The officers brought out their tasers and made it clear that they would use them if the man attacked. After more time during which the officers patiently and calmly sought to talk the man into stepping aside, the man suddenly attacked one of the officers, at which point that officer fired his taser. As the actor fell, the other officer then covered with his taser while the first stepped in to handcuff the suspect, and check his welfare in case he needed medical attention. The flat was then searched and the “wife” found in her pool of blood, whereupon medical help was summoned.
All good stuff.
There is, of course, far more to the training than the scenario that I have described. The training is clear and concise, putting great emphasis on the fact that tasers should be deployed only when it is necessary to do so to safeguard life or limb. I left reassured that police officers patrolling Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland with tasers have been properly trained in their use.
I stepped outside to find that the drizzle had turned to rain. And I had left my hat in the office.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland
Posted on Tuesday 22nd June 2021