Sorry what now? No, this isn’t Brass Eye, this is the release of genuine Home Office stats. If a cannibal eats a womans face and gets tasered to death you think “well, fair enough mate”, but a whole host of kids getting tasered up just doesn’t sound quite right. Four-hundred-and-thirty-one children had a taser used against them in 2013 which is an increase of 38% on 2012. That sounds a bit much doesn’t it?
I mean, I know some kids are complete and utter gits but electrocuting them seems a little unnecessary. The former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who initially introduced tasers, is now calling for a review of their use which is a reasonable plan given the figures.
The stats were released thanks to a Freedom of Information request; the figures showed that the youngest person to have the taser drawn on them was 11, but the youngest to be fired on was 14. I suppose, if that 14-year-old was wielding a knife and looking aggro round an old lady that would be sort of fair enough, but 431 children in a year is a pretty large number.
At the other end of the scale the oldest person to have a taser pointed at them was 85 and the oldest person actually fired on was 82. What the frig could an 82-year-old have been doing that made them look menacing enough to be electrocuted?
When interviewed Mr Blunkett said:
For a youngster, 11 years old, a Taser is not in my view an appropriate way of dealing with a situation which clearly must have been out of hand, but where we need to train people to use much more traditional alternatives.
The Police Commander Neil Basu was quick to defend the electrocution of children of course:
We have to remember that children can commit violent crime too. The police are paid to intervene in those situations and Taser can be an appropriate use of force,
We don’t know what happened in each of those hundreds of situations, so it’s difficult to judge without all of the facts, but even if they were all justifiable, it’s still a bit of a worry. In America the militarisation of the police force is a huge concern, and many worry that heavy taser use is the start of a “mission creep” in the UK. Next year there’ll be police tanks rolling down Worthing pier and F-16’s buzzing Hampstead Heath. I jest of course but is this a slippery edge on the thin end of the wedge?
So how did your neck of the woods compare in the taser glut of 2013?:
In January this year, in a very American-ish manner, the Police Federation voted for all front-line police in England and Wales to be offered Tasers to combat the increase in terror threats. That sounds like an excuse to arm the police to me. We all know that the threat of terrorism, whether it is considered high in central London or not, certainly isn’t high in Saffron Walden or Corby. A blanket offering of sinister weapons doesn’t seem wholly necessary.
Those scenes of Warwick students getting tasered at a peaceful demonstration at the end of last year might well become the new “normal”.