Does One of the Green Councillors Really Think the Police Want to Shoot Young People With Tasers?

Normally I’d leave things like this for the Lewisham Round Up, but what Romayne is suggesting is so fantastic (as in unbelievable) that I really wonder whether she is willing to stand it up.

The Green Room blog says:

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

The way I read that sentence and the story that follows is that Romayne thinks there are police men and women who will be briefed in Lewisham police station to go out and find children to shoot with the tasers.

I’ve been reading the new ACPO guidance on how the police should work with children and young people and that sort of response didn’t seem to me to be the one that the association were looking to engender.

I’ve emailed Romayne to check that her views have been acurately reflected on the blog and await her response.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Lewisham's Politicians and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Does One of the Green Councillors Really Think the Police Want to Shoot Young People With Tasers?

  1. Sue Luxton says:

    Hmm, I haven’t been following this debate and wasn’t at the LPCG meeting, but to be fair to Romayne, when you read the whole post, the main points seem to be a) concern that police training for Tasers is being reduced from 3 days to 1 and b) that there is no ban on using them on minors. Clearly, an officer is unlikely to Taser a toddler, but what about a twelve year-old who maybe looked a bit older – would that be ok? I’m not normally a Daily Mail reader ;), but here’s an article from them about police being able to use Tasers on children and the extra risk of heart attacks when Tasers are used on children: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=479341&in_page_id=1770
    An organisation I trust considerably more than the Daily Mail is Amnesty International, and they also have concerns about the use of Tasers, particularly their use in the USA and the number of deaths resulting from being hit by a Taser: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=16652. In the same week that I read about councils and businesses using sonic ‘mosquito devices’ against young people (http://conservengland.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-goes-around-comes-around.html#links), I think I’d like to ‘hold fire’ until I’ve found out more about Tasers and what the guidelines really are.

    PS: Don’t hold your breath for a response from Romayne – Green Party Conference kicks off tomorrow so she might not be checking her e-mails for a few days.

  2. Max says:

    Well, the author of the text wrote that opening paragraph in a tabloid style, I don’t think that there are such things as “police taser squads”, only police men and women carrying a taser, but what Romayne said is quite serious.

    Romayne didn’t say that police men and women will be briefed to taser people, only that they won’t be given much training on the use of taser guns and that the police doesn’t have guidelines about age groups that should not be targeted and that in absence of guidelines zapping children could be considered ok. That’s quite rightly a matter of concern for Romaine, it is actually her duty to be concerned about it.

    “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”

    There are precedents of casual use of taser guns, famously 2 years ago a student at a UCLA in California got tasered for doing passive resistance after not showing his id card to a University Policeman whilst studying at the University library, reading around about it it seems that lack of training and guidelines may have had something to do with it.

  3. Andrew Brown says:

    I did go bed – something you appear not to ever need Sue and Max – feeling guilty about not making the distinction between the “targeted” and “at risk”, but she’s still clearly raising the specter of the police being out of control tasering children without compunction.

    As for drawing comparisons between American policing styles and ours, I’m not sure it works as well as you’d want it to.

    Nevertheless when Romayne gets in touch with me – and as long as she’s happy for me to reproduce it – I’ll let you know what she says.

  4. kate says:

    I think Lewisham and many other places could benefit greatly if childen thought they could be tazered for going out and taking part in criminal activities. My son is 13 and people say he looks 16 so he could be a target if i let him out wandering the streets.
    I dont buy the going out to look for kids bit …thats just been worded like that to generate interest.

  5. Max says:

    Yes, “at risk” would be correct – “targeted” is wrong.
    And the article was needlessly alarmist, and true, in the States they seem to be quite a bit rougher then here, but I still think she’s right to make the point that she made.

    Going to bed? Me? The night is so wonderfully quiet, why miss it.

  6. Ross says:

    “I think Lewisham and many other places could benefit greatly if childen thought they could be tazered for going out and taking part in criminal activities.”

    i agree – although ideally the root causes and not just the symptoms should be addressed (tazered?) as well

  7. kate says:

    Ross thats right , i dont let my children out and maybe they lose something of growing up but i know where they are and what they are doing. Unfortunately many other people have more important activities such as drugs or the pub to worry about what their off-spring are up to.

  8. Romayne Phoenix says:

    Just back from Green Party Spring Conference in Reading

    I’m not sure what is ‘unbelievable’ here.  This is information I received first hand from the police at the LCPCG – it was made clear that there is no lower age limit to possible Taser targets, and that police training has been cut to twenty four hours from the recommended three days.
     
    I do understand the slight confusion over the word ‘target’ – by this word I simply meant that if someone is aimed at and shot at with a Taser then they are by definition the targets.  Max and Sue’s interpretation of my meaning was right.  There is no suggestion that police are somehow conspiring to go out and blast kids with malice aforethought, and if you read the whole article it’s clear, as Max said, that there is no suggestion of that kind being made.
     
    What is also clear is that the lack of a lower age limit and the reduction in training do mean that children could be shot with these weapons in Lewisham.  That’s not scaremongering, it’s just scary.  Our local officers are being given a new and serious responsibility in using these weapons, and they deserve better training and better guidelines, especially when their use by ordinary rather than specialist officers is still very new.
    During the trial period I am sure that use of Tasers will be low and last resort. If accepted into the items for police protection ( it is not being added as a ‘ weapon’ or fire arms replacement) I have concerns that the use of this ‘item’ may gradually become more common. Of course we would like officers on the street to be safe and avoid injury but I think that traditional policing skills of negotiation, diplomacy and knowledge of the local community may become lost.

  9. Cassandra says:

    Kate wrote: “i dont let my children out and maybe they lose something of growing up but i know where they are and what they are doing. Unfortunately many other people have more important activities such as drugs or the pub to worry about what their off-spring are up to.”

    Kate – well done for taking care of your children. Don’t be browbeaten with this “losing out” rhetoric. The main things they’re “missing out on” are drinking themselves legless, drug-taking, being caught up in crime, molested, injured, knifed or shot.

  10. Pingback: Taser Discharges « Someday I Will Treat You Good

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