WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
June 12 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Structural racism behind disproportionate Taser use – Report

Structural racism behind disproportionate Taser use – Report

A new study by the College of Policing exposes racial disparities in the use of Tasers, caused not by individual officer bias, but structural and institutional racism.  

The study highlights that black individuals are over four times more likely to be subjected to Taser use. Contrary to initial perceptions, the report suggests that individual officer decisions are not the leading cause of this racial disparity. The report identifies key factors, emphasizing how and where officers are deployed as crucial elements. Officers are more frequently dispatched to higher crime areas, characterized by acute poverty and larger ethnic minority populations, contributing to the disproportionate use of Tasers. 

The Taser saw a significant increase in deployment, from just under 17,000 times in 2017-18 to 34,276 times by 2021-22. The number of officers equipped with Tasers has also risen. 

Critics argue that the weapon, firing a 50,000-volt electric current, poses serious risks and should be curtailed or banned. Inquest juries have connected Taser use to fatalities, such as the deaths of Jordan Begley in 2013 in Manchester and the death of Marc Cole in 2017 in Falmouth. This raises questions about its safety and appropriateness in policing. 

The study recommends radical reforms in police training, emphasizing de-escalation skills over Taser use. It calls for a re-evaluation of when Tasers should be deployed and suggests an institutionalized approach that needs addressing. 

Report Co- author Dr Ben Bradford emphasises the need to discover whether and how to alleviate ethnic disproportionality. He said: If this is not possible, then there must be fundamental questions about the continued use of the weapon, at least in its current form.” 

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