Tuesday, 12 February 2008

*Children 'could be targeted today by Taser squads'

Green Party councillor Romayne Phoenix warned today that local children could be targeted by police Taser squads on Lewisham's streets.

She also voiced fears that Taser-armed officers may be under-trained in use of the high-voltage weapon.

Lewisham Police are participating in a pilot scheme in which the new weapons are distributed more routinely to officers who are not experts in their use. The pilot began in December and ends this August.

Green Party councillor Romayne Phoenix said:

"I am deeply worried that police have cut their training in the use of these weapons from three days to just 24 hours in order to cut costs.

"They have also said there is no lower age limit for who can be shot with these powerful devices, which means our children are at risk.

"There may be a place for this tool in policing, but Lewisham residents should not be guinea pigs for a scheme that cuts corners in police training and which allows young people to be shot with 50,000 volts."

" My fear is that if adopted as a ' piece of personal protective equipment' , use of the Taser could gradually become more common place, and some of the valuable policing skills such as negotiation, persuasion and common sense might become a thing of the past. "

Currently there are two London IPCC investigations involving the use of Tasers.

Cllr Phoenix, who is a member of the Lewisham Community Police Consultative Group (LCPCG), learned of the training cuts and lack of age restrictions on Taser targets when the Met Police's Territorial Support Group gave a presentation on the controversial weapon at the LCPCG's last meeting.

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