A recent Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report has found that, compared to other ethnicities, Black people in the UK were more likely to be Tasered for longer.
The study also revealed evidence that many police officers used derogatory and inappropriate comments in an analysis of over 100 investigations involving Tasers from 2015 to 2020.
The director-general of the IOPC, Michael Lockwood, demanded reforms, saying: “Ultimately, policing has to change and be more responsive to community concern or risk losing legitimacy in the eyes of the public. In particular, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds deserve a clear and transparent answer from police on why such disproportionality still exists. Failure to address this risks undermining the legitimacy of policing.”
Historical data indicates that Black people face greater Taser use, despite making up less than 4% of the population. The imbalance between the Black population coupled with the statistical police damnation has led many to claim a racial bias in the UK. The IOPC contended that 60% of Black people Tasered endured shock for more than five seconds out of all the cases they reviewed.
The IOPC also voiced concerns about the rising use of tasers on young children and those with mental health conditions. In their evaluation, the IOPC said there were a number of examples of missed opportunities where police could have easily de-escalated a situation before drawing their weapon.
Taser usage has been a hotly discussed topic since the 2016 murder of footballer Dalian Atkinson. Former police officer Benjamin Monk was convicted of manslaughter when he kicked Atkinson in the head following an unnecessary, 33-second Tasering.
Speaking on the report, the director of Inquest, Deborah Coles, said: “Tasers are highly dangerous weapons which have resulted in serious injuries, harm, and deaths. They are increasingly used as a first not last resort; the disproportionate and inappropriate use of tasers against Black people, people with mental ill-health, learning disabilities and autism, and children underscores longstanding concerns about racism and discrimination in policing.”