Marc Jones: How the taser is saving lives in Lincolnshire

The man who invented the taser gun, Jack Cover, used to tell his wife the device had saved 100,000 lives.

There are no records to show whether the late Jack Cover was right – but it’s hard to argue with his logic.

Jack created the taser as a response to a rash of plane hijackings in the 1960s – when a stray bullet from an air marshal could bring down the entire plane.

Then working on the Apollo moon landings the inventor wanted to create a gadget that would immobilise attackers without endangering passengers.

In short the taser was designed to save lives.

And nearly 50 years later the Chicago-born scientist’s work is still savings lives right here in Lincolnshire.

This week Lincolnshire Police announced it was to train over half of response officers to use and carry taser – the highest proportion of any force in England.

It’s a move I wholeheartedly support. I have seen for myself how even the threat of a taser can diffuse a potentially dangerous situation.

A man confronting an officer with a sword and a resident threatening people with a syringe of blood are just two of the life-threatening situations defused by police “red-dotting” suspects.

“Red-dotting” is the process of pointing the device at a person and a red light is projected on to them which, alongside robust warnings, is often enough to give pause for thought and lead to a de-escalation of tensions very quickly.

I believe it is my duty to support the Chief Constable in ensuring our officers are supplied with, and trained to use, whatever non-lethal equipment is necessary to keep them safe from harm and protect the public.

According to Home Office statistics there are around 250 assaults on police officers in Lincolnshire within a year. That’s five a week. Nearly a third of those assaults result in injuries.

That means that, quite literally, our police officers risk their own safety on a daily basis in order to safeguard the public.

It is absolutely crucial that we do everything possible to protect them so they can protect you.

In Lincolnshire that presents particular challenges. Geographically, Lincolnshire is a huge county and we are also the lowest funded force in the whole of the country. This means that a single crew is sent in the vast majority of cases.

The taser gives officers an added sense of security when back up can take some time to arrive. Taser is actually only fired about once a month in Lincolnshire and despite the number of officers carrying it going up, year on year the firing of it has reduced.

The fact that it is visible is often all that is needed.

Officers have to go through very thorough annual training processes and have to follow strict guidelines about their use. These are reviewed regularly as are the detailed records of each time taser is drawn from its holster to ensure it is being used appropriately.

Tasers are not the only technology we are employing in the fight to keep officers safe and effective while patrolling our streets.

All our officers are now fitted with body cameras which can provide vital evidence along with mobile devices to record information and get it back to the station without all the paperwork of days gone by.

I know there is more to do to reduce red tape and paperwork to keep officers out on patrol longer and we are working on that too. They even carry a palm sized printer for tickets to save writing them out.

My current budget consultation is also exploring the public’s views on providing the latest mobile equipment to keep front line personnel updated, safe and able to protect the public better.

I will continue to seek new and innovative ways to protect our officers and our communities from crime and will do everything possible to support our front-line team members as they take to the streets each day.