4 FEBRUARY 2021
Following a recent report in the Telegraph, The Northern Police Monitoring Project condemns Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) intention to double the number of Taser-trained officers drawing on ring-fenced funding from the Home Office. This decision demonstrates a reckless disregard for well-documented concerns about the inherent risks associated with police use of Taser raised by human rights and medical experts as well as the individuals and families directly impacted. A recent report by Greater Manchester-based think tank Resistance Lab (2020) showed that between April 2017 and March 2019, GMP oversaw a 73% increase in Taser usage with disproportionate impacts on Black people and other vulnerable communities. In 2018/19, Black people in Greater Manchester were subject to Taser at nearly 4 times the rate of their white counterparts. The report also revealed that Taser was being routinely used against children and vulnerable adults, particularly those with mental health issues. These concerns have increasingly attracted the attention of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which intervened in two such cases in 2020 alone. In May, the IOPC opened an investigation into GMP’s use of the weapon against Desmond Ziggy Mombeyara in front of his infant child in Stretford. In December, the ‘independent’ watchdog also called on GMP to reinvestigate the 2014 case of Michael Gilchrist, an autistic man who was left traumatised after police repeatedly used Taser to subdue him during a mental health crisis. Despite these growing concerns, GMP – a force currently under ‘special measures’ and whose culture and practices are coming under increased scrutiny including from GM Mayor Andy Burnham – is moving forward with blinkered plans to rollout Taser to 1,100 officers. Such a strategy will only result in greater unnecessary losses of life and serious injury with disproportionate impacts upon our most overpoliced and vulnerable communities.