Fifty local beat officers in Northampton will begin carrying Tasers from today as part of a bid to curb the number of assaults on bobbies.
Northamptonshire Police – along with forces in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire – opted to expand the number of officers carrying Tasers, also known as conductive electrical devices (CED), last year.
Today the force has announced that "about half" of the 100 officers who are being authorised to carry the devices have now finished their training.
Once all training is complete, it will take the number of response officers equipped with Tasers from 76 to 176.
Currently, the Taser capability available to Northamptonshire Police is provided by officers who work in the East Midlands Operational Support Services unit (EMOpSS), which provides specialist services to this county as well as Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
Within EMOpSS, there are currently 388 police officer posts that can carry Tasers, including roads and armed police officers, the tactical armed policing team and the dog section.
The roll out means that, for the first time in Northamptonshire, Taser capability will be extended to officers in local policing roles.
Superintendent Chris Hillery, head of local policing said: "Extending our Taser capability will allow us to respond quicker and more effectively with the appropriate resources needed for a given incident.
"In addition, it will free up roads and armed response resources across the whole region, giving us greater capability to deal with them when required.
"Figures show that, nationally, 64 police officers are assaulted every day. By extending our Taser capability, we will be better placed to protect police officers and the wider community in general, from harm."
The Police Federation has been consulted and fully supports the decision to extend the use of Taser to local response officers.
Supt Hillery added "Evidence elsewhere in the country does not suggest that by simply equipping more officers there is an inevitable and automatic increase in the number of times CEDs are used.
"On many occasions, simply the presence of a CED can calm and resolve a situation without it necessarily being used to combat a violent situation."
The force says that every use of a Taser has to be reported and scrutinised and officers are individually accountable to the law for the amount of force they use
Figures released earlier this year by the Home Office showed that, nationally, there was a fall in the number of times Tasers were discharged.
Between April 1 and August 31 this year, Taser officers were authorised to deploy to incidents in Northamptonshire on 504 occasions.
Of those, Taser was used on 49 occasions although only actually fired on seven of those incidents.
All officers equipped with Taser are subject to the policy guidelines set down by the College of Policing.
Officers in Northamptonshire will all receive an additional day's training on the use of Taser, over and above the statutory three days, as well as benefiting from enhanced refresher courses.