Lincolnshire Police used Tasers 259 times in 2013, according to a new report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), putting it in the top ten for high usage in England and Wales.
The review of Taser use and complaints was published on July 22, with IPCC recommending that local forces should consider the possibility that the equipment is being over-used.
The force, which dealt with over 180,000 incidents in 2013, ‘used’ a Taser 259 times in 2013, but the device was actually fired only 47 times.
The use of Taser is defined in three ways: stage one is drawing it from its holster; stage two is ‘red doting’ the alleged offender (This involves pointing the Taser at an offender whereby a red dot appears on their body) and stage three is discharging the Taser.
Lincolnshire Police say the presence of a Taser was enough to subdue a violent offender on more than four out of five of the occasions it was required.
Assistant Chief Constable Lee Freeman said: “You will note that Lincolnshire Police has, on first examination, used Taser at a greater proportion of violent incidents than some other far larger forces in our region and across the country.
“Some 23% of Lincolnshire officers are trained to use Taser compared to an average of 8% of police officers across the East Midlands area.
“Since 2010-2011 assaults on police officers has reduced by approximately 25%. This may or may not be due to the use of Taser but we believe that this is likely to have at least contributed to the reduction.”
Value for money
In a separate report also published on July 22 by HMIC, the Lincolnshire Police force was rated “good” for value for money.
The report, based on inspections in March and April 2014, found that the force is “making extensive use of collaboration and outsourcing to maximise efficiency”, and gave the force an overall grade of ‘good’ for providing value for money for the people of Lincolnshire.
The report is split into three sections examining the steps the force is taking to ensure a secure financial position:
- The short and long term – HMIC verdict was ‘Good’
- The extent to which the force is delivering an affordable way of policing – HMIC verdict was ‘Outstanding’
- The extent to which the force is efficient -HMIC verdict was ‘Good’
But HMIC has concerns “about the ability of the force to maintain its current level of service to the communities of Lincolnshire beyond 2016.”
In terms of its cost, Lincolnshire Police is the smallest force in England and Wales.
The comparison of force’s proportions of planned savings in both pay and non-pay puts Lincolnshire Police top for the highest proportion of non-pay savings.
Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said: “To be recognised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate as ‘outstanding’ for the way we deliver an affordable way of policing is very gratifying and a massive tribute to the continuing commitment and hard work of every officer, member of staff, partners and volunteers.
“That coupled with the two other sections being marked ‘Good’ just adds to the tribute.
“I am hoping that following the visit to Lincolnshire by her officials and now our approach being independently backed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, the Home Secretary will visit Lincolnshire.”
Chief Constable Neil Rhodes added: “Currently we are able to have 86% of our workforce allocated to frontline roles – which is well above the national average of 78% – and HMIC notes as ‘commendable’ that by March 2015, 93% of those will be on frontline crime-fighting roles.”
The report also noted the force’s planned changes to workforce numbers over the spending review period and compared them to the changes for England and Wales.
Lincolnshire Police’s biggest staffing decrease is in Police Staff. The number of voluntary Specials however will increase by 84% – Almost double the average for England and Wales.
Police and Crime Commissioner Hardwick said: “We continue to be the lowest funded force per head of population and I am in frequent contact with the Home Office to emphasise how the current police funding formula, combined with the continuing cuts related to the comprehensive spending review, may force me into having to reconsider my pledge to maintain 1100 officers and 149 PCSOs.”