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Concerns over 'frontline abstractions' hampering Taser training

David Hamilton told Police Oracle that resourcing pressures have left some training courses 'running empty', hindering plans to grow the number of Taser trained officers.

The Chair of the Scottish Police Federation has claimed that frontline pressures risk scuppering plans to increase the number of officers with Taser training.

David Hamilton told Police Oracle that some courses are “running empty” because “commanders can’t afford to release officers for training”.

In 2021, Police Scotland confirmed that it intends to grow the number of Taser trained officers from 500 to 2,000 within three years.

According to its Head of Operational Support, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams, the force's National Taser Unit has now trained "over 1,000 officers" as part of that commitment.

However, Mr Hamilton argues this wider aim is being undermined by the fact that “we can’t afford the frontline abstractions”.

While these pressures aren't helping the expansion plans, the Fed Chair is also wary that having 2,000 Taser trained officers won't be enough.

With over 16,500 officers in the force according to the latest figures, Mr Hamilton describes this uplift as a "drop in the ocean".

"That said, I will be happy to admit that it’s a step in the right direction – if it happens," he said, adding: "We want everyone to have access to one [a Taser]."

Mr Hamilton's concerns are shared by his counterpart in Northern Ireland, Liam Kelly.

Speaking last week after the NI Policing Board had recommended against expanding the number of Taser trained officers in its annual human rights report, the Chair of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland (PFNI) advocated in favour of growing the numbers.

He said: "In Northern Ireland, we have around 100 specialist officers trained in the use of tasers, and it is our view that every frontline officer should have the option to be equipped with the device."

A spokesperson for the force has confirmed that this number is "kept under constant review".

The situation differs in England in Wales, where there has been an emphasis in recent years towards equipping more officers with Taser.

Key to this has been Home Office funding to the tune of £6.7 million, which allowed forces to purchase an additional 8,155 devices. Leicestershire, Kent and the BTP also equip their special constables. 

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