More smoke and mirrors from government on firearms officers

28 April 2016

Taser and firearms statistics show more smoke and mirror tactics by the government, say the Police Federation. 

The Home Office released the Police use of firearms statistics and Police use of Taser statistics for 2015 on 28 April 2016.

Che Donald, lead on firearms and Tasers for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The release of the Use of Firearms statistics are further evidence of the smoke and mirror tactics employed by the government in relation to firearms officers.

“We are fleecing the public of the real firearms figures. The figures show a decrease in firearms operations, which can surely be expected when you look at the ever-decreasing number of Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs)."

Mr Donald said: "The figures show that since 2009, there has been an 18 per cent decrease in the number of AFOs. So, while the Home Office has pledged to increase the number of AFOs by 1500, having lost 1259, in real terms we are looking at an uplift of approximately 250 firearms officers.

“The figures appear to show the government taking a u-turn on its promise to arm officers."

“The next question, then, is where will these ‘extra’ firearms officers come from? These will be existing officers who will undertake new training for this different role. Police numbers are already low, and we can't increase armed firearms officer levels without taking them away from the already thin front line and neighbourhood policing. And, all this is against a backdrop of the lowest police levels we’ve seen in decades.

“We are asking officers to volunteer for a dangerous job with incredible responsibility, and we know there are concerns about how much legal protection officers feel they have when carrying or using firearms, as recent cases have highlighted. Those issues need to be addressed," Che Donald said.

“The Use of Taser statistics, also released today, show that our officers continue to use this protective option responsibly. The increase in use, 2 per cent, is in line with the increase in officers now carrying Taser.

“It is important to note that the discharge figures have decreased by 4 per cent, which is an indication that the mere presence of Taser is stopping offenders. The Police Federation maintains that all officers who want to carry Tasers should have the opportunity to be trained.”