Officers carrying stun guns ‘more likely to use force’
A new study has found that police officers carrying Taser electronic weapons are almost half as likely to use force and are also more likely to be assaulted.
The year-long University of Cambridge study found that City of London police de-holstered stun guns on nine occasions and fired on two. Having concluded the study, the researchers also claim that those carrying tasers were also more likely to use other types of force, such as handcuffing and CS spray, than those without the weapons. In fact, use of force by officers carrying stun guns was 48 per cent higher than among those who were unarmed.
Therefore, the findings suggest stun guns aid the ‘weapons effect’, a long-established psychological phenomenon whereby sight of a weapon increases aggressive behaviour.
Although the number of physical assaults against officers was only recorded as six during stun gun-carrying shifts, this was compared with three on shifts without them, meaning the researchers concluded that the doubling was significant because such assaults were so rare.
Barak Ariel, lead author, said: “The very presence of the weapon led to increased hostility between the police and public. There are some people, probably the kind of people that come into contact with the police, that respond negatively to weapons, it provokes them. If the presence of weapons can lead to aggression by suspects, so its concealment should be able to reduce aggression and increase officer safety.”
The study has been published in the Criminal Justice and Behaviour journal.