So – what instead of TASER?

If you haven’t seen this clip of the brave City Worker trying to stop a jewellery robber in London, it is well worth watching.

The man chooses his moment to pounce on the fleeing criminal and within seconds the robber pulls a large machete from his coat. This had been well hidden up until this point and the City Worker, understandably, decides that it is a risk too far and lets the suspect go. Who wouldn’t when confronted with something like that?

The scene continues briefly with someone else chasing after the suspect until he too is confronted with the machete. You can see him double back and run from danger.

The man in the suit deserves an award for his bravery but the production of that large knife should send chills down everyone’s spine. Could or should an unarmed police officer have done more in the same situation?

In the last few weeks and months I have noticed an increase in the number of incidents involving machetes. This could be nothing more than coincidence but it has been noticeable.

There are a number of problems with machetes. They have their uses in the jungles of the Amazon but on the streets of the UK they have no practical purpose other than to be used to threaten, injure or kill.

Watch the clip. Look at the size of the blade. How easily it was concealed despite this. Then ask yourself this:

What is the best tactical option when confronted with one of these being wielded in anger?

I have heard today that there is one political party who wish to ban the use of TASER by British police. There is already a campaign to ban its use within custody units but this is another level altogether.

Prior to the introduction of TASER, police had no tactical option between CS or baton and firearm. With only 3% of UK police carrying firearms, the chances are that the first officer at the scene of this incident would be unarmed. If the presence of that machete was not known about when the call was made then there would be no authority in place for armed officers to attend. Unarmed officers would be sent.

In that video the threshold for the deployment of fully armed officers is easily met.

What do the “ban TASER” proponents suggest police do in the circumstances shown in that clip?

Look how quickly it was drawn.

Someone is bound to say – use a shield – but shields aren’t routinely carried and, to be honest, I don’t think they offer that much protection against a knife that size or a samurai sword.

I tried to ask a vocal campaigner on TASER use what alternatives they might suggest instead. Their answer was that it was not for them to suggest alternatives. Interesting, given that they had taken it upon themselves to campaign on what the police CAN’T have.

I genuinely do not understand why people would want to deny the police a less lethal option. The police role is to protect the public. It is quite hard to do that when you don’t have any form of advantage.

The problem with shields, CS or batons is that you have to be up close to someone to use them. Body armour doesn’t cover arms, legs or necks – all of which have major arteries running through them which – if sliced – will prove fatal in seconds.

Arguably, even TASER isn’t ideal against someone wielding a knife that size or a sword. The maximum 20 or so foot firing distance wouldn’t take long to cover by a determined subject and I know of one case where the subject has used the sword they were carrying to cut clean through the wires.

There are some who say that the police shouldn’t even wear body armour as it is too para-military.

The police have a positive obligation to protect the lives of others. If they cannot stop someone from causing that harm then they cannot fulfil that obligation. If they are killed in the process then they cannot fulfil that obligation either.

Lots and lots of people are very busy saying what the police shouldn’t wear and shouldn’t carry.

To these people I ask:

How DO you defend yourself from someone intent on hurting you with a 1ft or longer blade?

How SHOULD the police defend the public from someone intent on hurting them with the same object?

I await the answers with bated breath.

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6 responses to “So – what instead of TASER?”

  1. panache2009 says :

    Maintain the use of the Taser. The Police need protection in this day and age with a wide selection of weapons used against them. To expect an officer to protect himself and defend the public without resources is lunacy. Any one carrying weapons is breaking the law & must suffer the penalty.

  2. Northmead says :

    I can’t see the avalanche of comments from people who object with alternatives. Site can’t be working correctly?!

  3. John Plumstead says :

    i think you meant “Bated” as in abated rather than baited but otherwise agree.

  4. Clive says :

    In Australia and USA if you threaten police with a knife you are usually shot after killed. A knife is a very dangerous weapon, not a play thing. The social conditions that made unarmed police viable have passed. Police need routine arming.

    • Clive says :

      I don’t know what went wrong with my grammar there….”usually shot, often killed” There was one the other day when a young woman brandishing a knife at a fast food joint was approached by police, she brandished her knife…shot dead within 30 seconds of police arrival…a knife is a dangerous weapon.

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