Concerns over the legitimacy and safe use of Tasers by the police is gathering pace as lawyers, politicians and academics begin to pool their knowledge over a lack of research into its effects on public health and ambiguous guidance on its use.
Campaigners have expressed concerns over further civil unrest following the introduction of 24hr Taser patrols in Hackney last month after London boroughs that introduced the measure last year recorded dramatic rises in its use.
Forty officers have been trained in every borough to use the so-called less-than-lethal weapon as part of a citywide roll-out. Two pairs of armed officers will patrol the streets at anyone time responding to threats of serious violence within minutes.
However, the move has prompted fears of inappropriate and disproportionate use on youths and ethnic minorities that already feel under siege from the police that could lead to further unrest.
Within a couple of months every borough in London will have four police patrols armed with Tasers roaming the streets 24 hours-a-day. The majority already have and subsequently they’ll never be more than a few minutes away.
While most people accept their intended use on people threatening or engaging in serious violence, there are justified concerns over their ubiquity leading to increased, inappropriate and disproportionate use that could have damaging consequences on individuals and communities.
The catalog of reports detailing inappropriate use is already growing with the IPCC currently investigating, amongst others, a blind man who was tasered in the back after police mistook his white stick for a sword, a 17-year-old who was mistakenly tasered as police responded to a burglary and a 58-year-old man suffering from Alzheimers who was tasered while being sectioned.
A WITNESS to an alleged assault by two plain clothed police officers on a handcuffed teenager has criticised the ‘flimsy effort’ and lack of ‘diligence’ by the police Professional Standards Unit after it dismissed and ignored her and the victim’s complaints.
Anna Larkin was at her kitchen window filling up a hot water bottle shortly after midnight on November 1 last year when she says she witnessed two plain clothed officers assault Agnelito Da Costa, 18, as he and a friend made their way home in full face paint after celebrating Halloween at an East London pub.
Larkin, a communications officer for a prestigious art institution in Angel, North London, said she was horrified as she watched one of the officers push handcuffed Da Costa’s face into the bonnet of a car and hold it there while a colleague kicked his legs away so he fell to his knees, kicked his legs apart, kicked him hard between the legs and stamped on his ankles. Continue reading
THE BBC have responded to a complaint they misrepresented a speaker at a student protest with a correction to the article.
Alfie Meadows, the philosophy student recently cleared of violent disorder after being struck over the head with a police baton, had been speaking at Sussex University where students have occupied a building in protest over plans to outsource university support services to the private sector.
The public broadcaster originally directly quoted Mr Meadows telling protesters, on Saturday, March 25: ‘We need revenge for the way students, protesters and the austerity movement were brutalised by police [during the 2010 student protests against tuition fees],’ but later that evening replaced the quote with: ‘He spoke of wanting revenge for how protesters were treated then.’
IT seems the Metropolitan Police have got themselves in a stew after a Freedom of Information request for police policy on how undercover officers are accountable to members of the public.
The request, submitted on January 16, 2013, pointed out that uniformed officers are obliged to display their identification numbers while on duty so complaints can be raised by members of the public, but queried how the same could be done with officers in plain-clothes.
ALFIE Meadows and Zak King, the two students charged with violent disorder following an anti-tuition fee demonstration on December 9, 2010, have both been found not guilty by a jury in a unanimous decision yesterday.*
It was the third trial the pair and their families had endured after a hung jury in the first, an abortion during the second and finally a unanimous not guilty following the third – more than two years after they were first arrested.
The pair faced up to five years in jail had they been convicted.