Police data on firearms and taser use released
The number of firearms operations by Northumbria Police rose by 55 per cent in the last year, although the overall figures remain low compared to elsewhere in the country.
The Home Office today published the latest official statistics on police use of firearms in England and Wales for the financial year ending March 2015. During 2014/15, there were 186 firearms operations in the Northumbria Police force area, up from 120 in the year ending March 2014.
However, the rise from the year ending March 2009 is just 21 per cent (32) and the total number of operations remains lower than around half the country's forces. Almost all of the operations involved armed response vehicles - 174 (94 per cent).
Nationally, there were 14,666 police firearms operations in the year ending March 2015, a decrease of two per cent (-273) when compared with the previous year and police firearms were discharged six times during the year.
The Home Office also published the latest official statistics on police use of tasers in England and Wales, where, in 2015, there were 10,329 uses of taser by police representing a two per cent (234) increase from the previous year. In the Northumbria force area, tasers were used 91 times last year, but in 65 cases (71 per cent), they were not discharged.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: "Despite Northumbria Police covering one of the largest force areas in the country, we are fortunate that we don't share the same gun crime culture as other areas.
"In 2014, the force had one of the lowest proportions of fired tasers per 100,000 population and during 2015 we saw the figure fall by 22 per cent. The public can also gain confidence in the knowledge that the HMIC's recent PEEL report, praised Northumbria Police for its 'effective system for ensuring that tasers are used fairly and appropriately and that taser-equipped officers have a good understanding of the National Decision Model'.
"In the majority of cases our officers use other tools and tactics to manage threat and risk, and ensure the safety of everyone. I will continue to closely monitor every incident where tasers and firearms are used by our officers ensuring this is only in exceptional circumstances and in-line with national guidelines."
Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best said: "Today's official figures confirm that the use of firearms and tasers by Northumbria Police remains one of the lowest among police forces nationally, making it a safe place to live, work and visit. We continue to have low levels of gun-related crime and are fully committed to protecting the public and utilising taser when appropriate and necessary.
"The majority of incidents that involve firearms, real or imitation, are resolved without the use of force. Where force is needed we have highly trained specialist staff who can respond quickly and effectively when needed. We also invest a lot of time in training officers to ensure their use is proportionate and necessary and we continually review our policies and procedures in line with national guidance and best practice.
"Protecting the public is our absolute priority and I would encourage people to report anyone they know or suspect to have access to illegal firearms so that we can take robust action and keep our streets safe."