Published 30 July 2020 by Remi
Urgent concerns about the increasing use of Tasers are raised in a new report released today.
The report, A Growing Threat to Life: Taser usage by Greater Manchester Police, comes at a time when Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted the urgency of critical conversations about policing in the UK and elsewhere.
This week, Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara is due to appear in court after footage of him being Tasered in front of his young son sparked national outcry earlier this year.
Authored by Dr Kerry Pimblott, and published by Resistance Lab, the report raises significant questions about the health and safety risks associated with Tasers.
The use of Tasers by police forces across England and Wales has increased by more than 500% over the last decade. We should expect to see more cases in which members of the public suffer serious injury or death, the report warns.
In the last year alone, Greater Manchester Police’s use of Tasers increased by 73% from 832 incidents in 2017/18 to 1,442 incidents in 2018/19. This rate of increase exceeded the national average of 39%, as well as that of comparable forces such as the Metropolitan Police (which reported a 49% increase in the use of Tasers).
In 2018/19, Greater Manchester Police reported more incidents involving Tasers, whether discharged or not, than any other force with the exception of the Metropolitan Police.
The report highlights significant racial disparities, with Black people subject to the use of Taser by Greater Manchester Police at nearly 4 times the rate of white people.
It also raises alarms about the use of Taser against children and vulnerable young adults. In 2018/19, Greater Manchester Police reported more incidents (118) involving the use of Taser against children under the age of 18 than any other force with the exception of the Metropolitan Police.
In the report, Resistance Lab makes one simple demand: the abolition of Tasers.
Report author, Dr Kerry Pimblott said:
“It is clear that the rollout of Tasers across England and Wales presents an intrinsic and growing threat to life and public safety. This report shows that in our own community of Greater Manchester this threat is borne disproportionately by Black communities and people with mental health conditions. Those risks are heightened with lethal consequences when Tasers are deployed against children and vulnerable adults suffering from underlying health issues such as cardiac and pulmonary conditions, diabetes and epilepsy.”
Sibia Akhtar, of Resistance Lab, said:
“There is a long history of policing injustices against Black and ethnic minority communities. This report shows that Tasers are being disproportionately used against Black people and that in Manchester we have among the highest levels of Taser usage nationally. The police abuse their power by weaponizing the Taser against Black communities with severe consequences. Taser use by police officers have been proven to mentally scar people and, in some instances, have been deadly. Therefore the perception that Tasers are a less lethal weapon is a fatal misjudgement.”
Laura Connelly, of Resistance Lab and Northern Police Monitoring Project said:
“Focusing on Taser use, this report amplifies concerns that affected communities have been raising for some time. It shows that we cannot - and must not - accept the disproportionate use of Taser against Black communities, or its use against children and people with mental health conditions. However, as the report argues, we must go further in our demands: Taser should be abolished. As we seek to roll back the power of the police, and instead invest in communities, pushing back against the normalisation of Taser is a step in the right direction.”
Notes to Editors
- The full report and executive summary will be available from midnight on 29th July at: https://resistancelab.network/taser-report
- Resistance Lab members are available for interview. For more details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Resistance Lab is a newly launched network of scholars, activists and grassroots community groups working to confront racialised state violence in Greater Manchester.