Taser fired just once in Islington in first six months - and then didn’t work

Councillor Paul Convery

Councillor Paul Convery - Credit: Archant

Six months since potentially lethal stun guns hit the streets of Islington, the Gazette can reveal how many times they have been used.

Taser stun guns.Life-saving deterrent or lethal weapon? They are to be issued to police more routin

Taser stun guns.Life-saving deterrent or lethal weapon? They are to be issued to police more routinely, to subdue and incapacitate dangerous suspects but that has raised concerns about their potential risk following several fatalities as well as fears they could be used against vulnerable people who may be in crisis and acting violently because they have mental health problems. - Credit: Archant

Tasers – which pump 50,000 volts into the bodies of their targets – were given to the borough’s police officers in February as part of a London-wide roll -out of the controversial weapons.

Up to 40 officers were issued with weapons, with Islington Council strongly opposing the move, but since then only one has been fired when a violent male assaulted a woman in a pub in Holloway Road, Archway, and ran away. He didn’t need medical attention.


Weapons have also been drawn or aimed a further seven times according to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Gazette.

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “It’s the only time one’s been used in Islington, but it didn’t actually work properly and only one barb went in. The police chased him over various fences and gardens and he refused to stop even though he was caught.

“Maybe someone got a bit frustrated and said stop or we’ll fire. Once they had a go with it he gave up.

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“There is a bit of doubt whether it was the correct use. It wasn’t dangerous, but they’re meant to be used if people are being threatened – not when people are running away. They need to be used at close range to be effective.

“But I sympathise with the police because this was a big strong bloke who had been in an altercation.”

A Taser has been drawn on four further occasions; on a man trying to stab members of the public with a knife, on an armed suspect who had been stealing from a shop, when a violent suspect under arrest ripped off his leg restraints – he was concealing an item in his hand – and when a large group of squatters became violent when police tried to arrest a man for a violent crime.

On three occasions the gun’s red dot was actually aimed at a suspect; when a man caught after a car chase tried to pull something from his jacket; during a warrant for two men known to be violent towards police and after a suspect had attacked an officer and a member of the public with a pair of scissors before trying to escape across a railway line.

Cllr Convery said: “They’ve been on the streets for the best part of six months and I’m still not happy about them but it’s good to know they have only been fired once. There have been many, many occasions when police have found themselves in dangerous situations and might have been tempted to use them.”