Q978: When are Tasers used by the Police?
Conductive Energy Devices (CEDs) are otherwise known by their trade name 'Tasers'. A CED is used in situations of violence and potential violence. Police have a duty to de-escalate events to try to stop situations from turning violent in an effort to protect the public and themselves.
In the UK, use of a CED does not necessarily mean that electrical discharge is delivered to a person. Because the police recognise that the mere availability of a CED at an incident can help to defuse the situation, they differentiate 'use' into seven types: drawn, aimed, arced, red dot, drive-stun, angled drive-stun and probes fired. The first four types of use do not deliver electrical discharge and comprise the majority (about 80%) of uses by UK police. In the remaining 20%, the majority involve fired probes. Use in one of the drive-stun modes comprises about 1%.
On 80% of occasions when officers are presented with violence or potential violence, the mere presence of the CED is enough to bring that situation to a swift conclusion without the need for physical force to be used. In such dynamic situations, officers aren't always going to know the person's background or medical history. It is in these instances that officers use their experience and training to make a decision on what use of force option to adopt.
If immediate action is needed and a CED is deployed, following the situation calming down, officers will make sure the individual is given immediate medical attention if needed, which includes hospital transfer if necessary. The priority is to remove the risk the person presents to themselves and others with the least intrusive options.
With regards to using a TASER for self-defence, please see Q766.