Tasers to be issued to 1,000 extra police officers across Kent

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's John Ryall

Tasers are to be issued to a further 1,000 police officers in Kent, one of the largest roll outs seen in England.

The move has been criticised as a waste of money that should have been spent elsewhere.

But Kent's chief constable says it's been triggered by an increase in violence against the police - while figures from the police federation show the majority of officers would prefer to carry a taser.

So far 350 officers in the county's police force have been issued with a taser.

But Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said carry a taser is a "choice" for officers that is followed by a "rigorous test" to make sure they are safe to operate with them.

"The training is immense and intense," he said, with "safeguards and reviews everytime [the force] uses a taser."

He said he'd made the decision "to protect [his] officers", adding that it was "unacceptable that they go to work, to get assaulted, just by doing their job."

The issue has already been a subject of debate, with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections due in May.

The Labour candidate for Kent, Lola Oyewusi, has said the money spent on tasers and training could have been better used on driving recruitment, warning that they could be "misused".

The current comissioner, Conservative Michael Scott, disputes this, saying he is"confident" the measures in place would keep the use of tasers "proportionate.

The political debate over the use of tasers will continue, but support for them among officers themselves is high.

A poll by the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, found that eight out of ten officers want to carry a taser.

Meanwhile a review by the National Police Chiefs Council into officer safety is ongoing.