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Two Special Constables and a Special Inspector will be the first volunteer officers in South Wales Police’s history to be deployed carrying Tasers following a recent change in national legislation.
Despite the Special Constabulary having long had the same powers as regular officers, responding to the same incidents alongside each other and working as one team to prevent and detect crime, volunteer officers were not authorised to carry a Taser until last year.
Following the change in legislation Special Constables Jason Francis and Ben Johns were among the latest cohort to undergo the three-day Taser training course.
Having successfully completed the comprehensive course, they can now carry the device to both better protect the public, themselves and their colleagues.
They join Special Inspector Jonathan Edwards in being Taser-trained and authorised.
Ironically, as a trainer himself, SI Edwards, who has been a Special for 26 years, has been trained to use the device for five years in order to deliver personal safety training to new recruits. Despite this, legislation meant he was unable to deploy carrying one until now.
Special Inspector Edwards said:
“As volunteer officers, we deploy alongside ‘regular’ officers and do the same role they do. We’re exposed to the same risks, the same hostility and the same levels of violence, so it’s really pleasing to see the law finally changing to recognise that fact.
“No officer is made to carry a Taser, it’s a personal choice, and operationally it’s just another piece of kit which helps us to keep ourselves and the communities we serve as safe as possible.
“The most effective tactical option we have as officers – whether volunteer or regular – will always be our ability to talk to people, to work with them. And more often than not, that is enough. But on those occasions where use of force is needed, then it is reassuring that we volunteer officers now also have that option available to us.”
Both special and regular officers must meet certain criteria before being eligible for Taser training, including having a minimum of two years’ service, and having achieved independent patrol status.
Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said:
“Our Special Constabulary is an invaluable part of South Wales Police; our volunteers serve the communities of south Wales with the same courage and professionalism as our regular officers.
“They give up their own time to do so – some dedicating more than 1,000 hours each year – and it is vital that they are given access to the same training, tools and support as the rest of #TeamSWP.
“We currently have 114 Special officers, all of whom will have the option to undergo training to carry Taser if they meet the eligibility criteria.
“The reality is that a Taser is discharged very infrequently; often its presence alone is enough to diffuse a situation and ensure the safety of everyone concerned.
“I’ve long been an advocate of ensuring that operational officers are as safe as they possibly can be at work; Taser is an operational tool which promotes safety from both an officer’s and the public’s perspective.”