Tower Hamlets is to be the first of the ELL boroughs to have non-specialist police officers using taser guns.
Police in Tower Hamlets will be allowed to use taser guns from next month. Currently only specialist firearms officers in the borough were permitted to use the weapons.
The announcement has come after a consultation period and meeting of the Independent Advisory Group in Tower Hamlets on January 9, which provides guidance and feedback to the police.
Forces in the borough will be issued with approximately eight taser guns and officers will be expected to undertake a three day training course before being allowed to use one.
Speaking about the use of tasers, Eulette Ewart, an Amnesty International spokesperson, said: “Tasers are potentially lethal and therefore should only be used in a limited set of instances where there is a very real threat of loss of life. Only officers who receive the highest standard of training on how and when to use tasers should be armed with these weapons and there must be a high level of accountability whenever tasers are used.”
Backing the introduction of the weapons, Peter Smyth, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “We firmly believe that issuing this equipment to local officers can only improve public and officer safety.”
The Metropolitan Police is in the process of allocating tasers to all London boroughs. They were first introduced in 2003 on a trial basis for use by firearms specialists.
Initially, officers only used tasers when confronted by an armed attacker, but in July 2007 this was extended to include instances of serious violence or threat.
Patrolling officers in five London boroughs – Barking and Dagenham, Bromley, Enfield, Harrow and Kingston – already use tasers. In total, 40 officers from these boroughs are armed with the weapons.
It is estimated that each taser along with four cartridges will cost £975.