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Conducted energy devices (Taser)

A CED is a less lethal weapon designed to temporarily incapacitate a subject with an electrical current. It is one of several tactical options available when dealing with an incident with the potential for conflict.

Conducted energy devices are commonly referred to as Taser, which is a brand name and registered trademark for a CED device.

CEDs approved and currently available for use by specially trained police officers in the UK are:

  • TASER X26e (more commonly referred to as an TASER X26)
  • TASER X2
  • TASER 7

Decisions to use force against a member of the public are never taken lightly and police officers always consider a variety of factors to ensure that it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. While officers draw on training and experience, they ultimately must make real-time, split second judgements to balance the vulnerability of the person against the risk of harm that they present.

Using a Taser may be the best option in certain circumstances. We know that in 86 per cent of cases the threat of its use alone will resolve an incident and calm an agitator, without it being fired.

Use of force data

Statistics on police use of conducted energy devices were previously collected on a calendar year basis by the Home Office until 2016.

CED data has been collected on a financial year basis for inclusion in the ‘Police use of force statistics’ collection. The latest update can be found here.

Please see below for NPCC's response to use of force statistics by year:

Number of Taser trained officers

The total number of trained STO and AFO Taser officers is 30,548, out of a total officer workforce of 156,833 (as of September 2019).

In March 2020, the Home Office announced that forces in England and Wales will receive £6.7 million to purchase 8,155 devices. A total of 41 forces put in bids for additional funding and all will receive the full amount of money they requested.

Funding applications were based on the threats and risks in their local areas. Police and Crime Commissioners outlined how many additional officers they plan to train to use.

National Taser Stakeholder Advisory Group

There is a National Taser Stakeholder Advisory group (NTSAG). This is consists of representatives of organisations that are independent of Police. They provide a valuable oversight and interaction with the Police and its use of Taser. These representatives attend meetings and engage with officers on the different aspects of Less Lethal force.

Independent Review into Disproportionate Effects of Use of Taser

A new project called the 'Independent Review into Disproportionate Effects of Use of Taser' was set-up to identify, understand and tackle the root causes of racial disproportionality in police use of Taser. Announced in December 2020 by the NPCC Lead for Less Lethal Weapons and the College of Policing, the project will formally launch in January 2021, with Junior Smart OBE acting as the Panel Chair.

Further reading

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Taser and less lethal weapons is Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi.