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Tasers could be issued to more PSNI officers – Inspector

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PSNI taser
PSNI taser

Tasers could be issued to more frontline police officers in Northern Ireland, inspectors said.

The incapacitating devices are a less-lethal alternative to firearms.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conducted a wide-ranging review that found the PSNI generally treated its workforce and the public well.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland welcomed the overall ‘good’ grading awarded by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in annual “PEEL(Police efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy) inspection, undertaken in January 2020.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said, “We welcome the overall ‘good’ grading awarded by HMICFRS in the Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy inspection. This is a very positive report and we will now consider the recommendations for improvement made by the Inspectorate.

“The inspection has shown that we have improved our response to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. It has also shown how we continue to plan well for the future and have a good understanding of the changing demands for the Service.

“We are pleased that Inspectors acknowledged our continuing work in reaching out to communities.

“We are also pleased to see our efforts to improve our wellbeing provision, to our officers and staff, and we will continue to work to make it more accessible.”

“We acknowledge the recommendation for greater external scrutiny around stop and search powers. As a Police Service, we have a number of governance groups to oversee the use of police powers, including stop and search, to ensure that they are being used proportionately and effectively. Regular updates are also provided in relation to the use of stop and search powers to the Northern Ireland Policing Board whose role is to hold the Service to account for the use of these, and other powers.

“We note the inspectorate’s comments around the use of Conducted Energy Devices (CED), such as Tasers. The availability of CEDs, as a tactical option, is one that we do not take for granted and their issue and use is subject to rigorous accountability and limited to a small group of specialist officers trained and accredited to national standards in its carriage and use.

“In addition, the report also recognises that we have a comprehensive understanding of the threats posed to our communities from serious and organised crime and terrorism and that we review the activities of Organised Crime Gangs more frequently than in England and Wales.

“The HMICFRS report recognises that recent events have made the issue of funding even more pressing, including the difficulty the Service faces in making long-term plans, due to the short-term nature of its funding. In this respect, the PSNI’s funding differs markedly from the arrangements for police forces in England and Wales. However, the PSNI has worked well to develop its plans for the future and the inspection has shown that we are using our resources effectively to keep people safe and reduce crime”.

All of this is evidence of the considerable effort that has been invested into improving our service to our communities.”

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