12 March 2006

'We Can't Trust Cops With Lethal Taser Guns' - Sinn Fein

Derry Journal

**Via Newshound

By Michael McMonagle
Friday 10th March 2006

Nationalist politicians and human rights campaigners in Derry have united to criticise the PSNI's plans to add electric Tasers to their weaponry.

On Wednesday the Chief Constable of the PSNI informed the Policing Board that he was planning to purchase 12 X-26 Tasers for the force. The Policing Board is to hold a two week consultation period to get the public's views on the new weapon.

Paul O'Connor from the Derry based human rights organisation, the Pat Finucane Centre said that he was opposed to the PSNI's plans and encouraged members of the public to register their objections during the consultation process. Mr O'Connor said that Amnesty International have said that Tasers have resulted in the deaths of 150 people world-wide.

Sinn Féin local government spokesperson on policing, Councillor Paul Fleming, said that the PSNI could not be trusted to use such a weapon responsibly.

"Tasers have been proven to have killed over 200 people across the globe and putting them in the hands of an unaccountable PSNI will only create the same problems that have arisen out of the PSNI being armed with CS spray and plastic bullets. The PSNI have enough lethal force weapons without arming them with another.

Although Tasers were designed for non-lethal force they have proven to be lethal in over 200 cases, just like plastic bullets," he said. Councillor Fleming also said that arming the PSNI with Tasers does not conform with the recommendations made in the Patten Report.

"Under the Patten recommendations the PSNI were to be transformed into a routinely unarmed policing service, however, what we have actually seen is their rearming of them with an array of new lethal weaponry. Rather than give the PSNI Tasers to kill or injure people we should be seeking a new beginning with the development of nonlethal crowd control weapons," he said.

SDLP Councillor Helen Quigley, said that her party is opposed to the introduction of Tasers and called for a longer consultation process. "The SDLP is totally opposed to the introduction of Tasers, even for the limited purposes that the PSNI wants them. The fact is that these weapons have killed at least 15 people in the US and Canada. There is also a dearth of proper research about their safety, especially their effects on children," she said. Councillor Quigley said that the consultation period was not long enough and said that the SDLP will raise the matter with the Policing Board and the Children's Commissioner.

"The SDLP questioned Home Office scientists who did a presentation on Tasers at the board. They admitted that there was no science on their effects on children but that when they were tested on smaller weighted animals they had a 'disproportionate effect.' So the bottom line is that we can expect the same if they are used against children too. The dangers of this are all too clear. SDLP policing Board members will be raising our concerns with the Children's Commissioner and our Policing Board members will oppose their use.

"We are also concerned at what appears to be a headlong rush to adopt these weapons - with only a two and a half week consultation period. That is woefully insufficient and the SDLP will press for people to be given much more time to respond on what is such an important matter when the Board meets on 28 March to discuss this issue," she said.

Paul O'Connor also criticised the shortness of the consultation period, which he described as "entirely inadequate".

"We have invited by the Policing Board to make submissions on the possible introduction of the controversial Taser weapon. The closing date for submissions is March 23. In effect the Policing Board is making no serious attempt to consult. Two weeks is entirely inadequate and is probably intended to be inadequate.

The Policing Board facilitated a new generation of plastic bullets and the introduction of CS spray; the worry must be that the NIO, PSNI and Policing Board have already made up their minds. It is up to the wider community to convince them otherwise. The first step must be a dramatic extension of the consultation period," he said.

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?