On Tasers, policing and imagining new responses to violence

Police Car Incidentsource: Medact
published: 18 October 2019

With the recent announcement of Tasers being made more widely available for use by the police in the UK, black feminist organiser and Global Health postgraduate Sarah Lasoye argues that the health community must take notice.

During her keynote speech at Conservative Party conference, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a new ring-fenced fund of £10 million to arm up to 60% of frontline police officers with tasers. The announcement follows a series of police-related promises Patel has made since her appointment this July.

From the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers, to the rollout of a new stop and search pilot seeking to give the police more Section 60 like powers, it’s clear that this government remain insistent on the false-narrative that increased police powers will prevent crime.

We know for a fact that this is not the case. Indeed, figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that decreased stop and search policies in recent years actually correlated with an overall decrease in violent crime. Even Theresa May proposed a scaling back of stop and search powers in response to mounting evidence of the initiative’s racism – with black people being nine times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people, and only one in ten of those stops leading to an arrest. Of course, Patel is not the first politician to weaponise the posturing of being “tough on crime” in hopes of gaining popularity with the public.

The tactic has endured precisely because of its lack of complexity, and avoidance of any responsibility to meaningfully engage with the social issues that become causes of crime.

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