Radio Sandwell Local News

WM Police admit black people are more likely to be tasered

2015-02-27 23:34:03

Taser

Black people are more likely to be targeted by taser cops in the West Midlands than White or Asians according to new figures.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the West Midlands Police and Crime Board, which was provided details about the ethnic background of victims.

In the report about the usage Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann said there is a disparity in the deployment of tasers against black people in the West Midlands.

He added: “There appears to be some disproportionality in the number of deployments for Asian and Black ethnic groups; with deployments against individuals of an Asian background being less than would be anticipated and deployments against Black individuals being higher.

“As a force average, the level of deployments against persons recorded as white in 2014 is 67.2 per cent and is broadly similar to census data showing the white population across the force area to be 70.6 per cent.

“The proportion of deployments against persons recorded as Asian is 8.56 per cent for 2014 against census figures of 18.23 per cent. For persons recorded as Black, the proportion of deployments is 13.24 per cent in 2014 compared to a population percentage of 6.14 per cent.”

Board member, Councillor Ernie Hendricks, said: “What I do not understand is that the figures are half that of the population in the Asian category, but are far higher if you are black, which is really worrying.”

ACC Cann said: “There is a correlation between taser usage and deployments in areas where there is the highest levels of recorded crime and higher levels of more violent crime.

“But we still can’t explain is the disproportionality because we don’t know precisely why.

“It is important to point out that we are talking about around 1,000 deployments across the year, so this is around 130.

“The figures for 2014 have not yet been completed or verified by the Home Office but early indications show that total taser usage may be down by around 12 per cent from 2013.”

Tasers were first used by British police in 2004 and West Midlands Police annually record the second-highest usage figures behind the Metropolitan Police.

Officers are required to justify each taser deployment and simply removing the device from its holster necessitates a written justification.

As well as firing and red-dotting they have to record drawing the weapon from the holster, aiming it at a person and arcing, where the taser is sparked without firing.

The force stresses that all officers receive rigorous training and that in 77 per cent of the 1,000 total taser usage cases per year over the last two years, the weapon was not actually fired.

 The Mail revealed in September that West Midlands Police had been ordered to pay £26,500 compensation to a former security who was tasered and wrongly arrested by officers.

A jury at Birmingham County Court decided police had subjected Ivan Martin, 54, of Bromford Bridge, to an unprovoked assault and awarded him damages.

Mr Martin told the court that he opened his front door to three police officers on February 22, 2011, who accused him of carrying out criminal damage earlier that day.

He told officers he believed they were looking for his 21-year-old son.

After a ten minute discussion Mr Martin stepped back into his house and as he went towards the kitchen the taser was fired at his back.

He was handcuffed and despite protesting his innocence, was taken to Steelhouse Lane but released without charge 17 hours later.

At the time his solicitor, Iain Gould, said: “Police somewhat bizarrely misidentified Mr Martin senior for his son.

“As a result, Mr Martin sued West Midlands Police for damages for false imprisonment and assault.”

At the time the force confirmed that one officer involved received management action after an internal investigation.

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