May 22 2013 Latest news:
By Frances Leate
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Work to mend frayed and fragile relations between police and the community in the wake of last summer’s riots could be “jeopardised” by giving officers Taser stun guns, it is feared.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, last week gave the go-ahead for the controversial weapons to be deployed in two fast-response cars in every London borough within two months, as part of 10 key commitments.
Currently only centrally-based firearms units and other officers carry Taser guns, capable of shooting 50,000-volts through the body. But community leaders and residents in Tottenham are concerned about how and when they will be used.
Reverend Nims Obunje, chief executive of Haringey Peace Alliance, said: “I would be concerned about the use of Tasers in the borough and on our streets at this stage when we are trying to re-build the relationship between the police and the community.
“I am wary that this move could jeopardise that, so I trust the borough commander will be wise about how they are used in this borough.”
Fred Ellis, a Tottenham resident and board member of the Haringey Community and Police Consultative Group, also voiced concerns, saying: “They should only be used in special circumstances and how can we ensure that everyone with a gun will use it in the right way?
“Only special police officers should be able to carry one and a risk assessment should be carried out. I would hate to see someone seriously injured or even killed by a Taser gun – someone who had maybe just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Haringey’s Lib Demcrime spokesman Cllr Martin Newton said he was “concerned at the message this sends to residents,” adding that back-up from specialist central officers should be available anyway.
But Jeanette Arnold, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority who also sits on the London Assembly, voiced support for their wider use after centrally-based officers shot and killed Mark Duggan in Tottenham last August - a spur for the riots - saying: “If a Taser had been used on Mark Duggan that man might be alive today.”
Scotland Yard declined to comment further.