Tasers will be issued to every frontline officer in one UK police force to protect against a ‘sickening trend’ in attacks, a chief constable has said.
It comes after three police officers were attacked while working, most recently resulting in the death of PC Andrew Harper, who was killed while responding to a burglary last week.
Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley, who served in the Royal Navy before joining the police, said the decision to issue the weapons to his force was not taken lightly.
According to a Parliamentary briefing, there were 1,044 frontline officers serving with Northamptonshire Police as of March this year.
Mr Adderley said the weapons would be issued to all officers who want one.
He told the Daily Express: ‘I can’t sit here and preside over a situation where my officers are exposed to increasing levels of violence when at my disposal is equipment that could save an officer’s life.
‘There are people out there who are prepared to seriously injure, or worse.
‘We haven’t moved with the times and we have to move with the times to combat the threat we are facing daily from those who simply have no respect for law and order.’
Mr Adderley has previously called for Tasers to be standard issue within three years, but said he was ‘not prepared to wait’ and that Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold was ‘fully supportive’.
It will take 18 months to train and equip the officers and cost around £220,000, he added.
In a tweet, Mr Adderley said risks to officers had ‘changed dramatically’, adding: ‘Our officers have a right to feel safe, supported and adequately equipped to tackle this sickening trend.’
PC Harper, 28, died after being dragged under the wheels of a car at around 11.30pm near the Berkshire village of Sulhamstead.
He had only got married four weeks ago and was reportedly due to go on his honeymoon this week.
In a tribute, PC Harper’s widow Lissie called him ‘the kindest, loveliest, most selfless person’.
She said: ‘My darling boy I do not know how I will be able to survive without you.’
She added: ‘Although we were married for only 28 days before you were cruelly taken away from me, my husband you were perfect.’
Jed Foster, 20, of Reading, has been charged with PC Harper’s murder and the theft of a quad bike.
Earlier this month, PC Stuart Outten was attacked with a machete in Leyton, east London, and used a Taser despite being stabbed in the head.
West Midlands Police PC Gareth Phillips was also run over with his own patrol car after responding to a suspected car theft in Birmingham.
He remains in hospital with serious and potentially life-changing injuries.
Issuing Tasers is a matter for each individual police force.
Police Federation of England and Wales national chairman John Apter said: ‘We should ensure every officer who wants to carry a Taser can do so.
‘Officer safety should never come second to balancing the books.’