South Yorkshire Police union rep calls for more safety training for officers

Neil Bowles
Neil Bowles
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A Police Federation rep from South Yorkshire has called for more safety training for officers.

Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, spoke out after the body's annual conference last week, where there were also calls for a wider roll-out of Tasers.

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, described Tasers as an essential piece of equipment and said the police service needs to rethink its strategy on arming bobbies with them.

He said: “Taser is an essential piece of equipment.

“We have 400 officers authorised to use it but I want more because it gives confidence and it prevents serious injury. I have evidence that it protects officers.

“To the National Police Chiefs Council – please rethink your position on Taser. To say it shouldn’t be rolled out further is a disgrace.

“Taser has proven itself time and again that with the right training and right use of force it is an essential us of kit and must be rolled out to every officer who wants to use it.

“Chiefs around the country – it’s your decision. I accept its expensive but what is the cost of the safety of your officers?”

Mr Apter also said that Chief Constables should know the true level of violence against their officers.

He said he 'doesn’t accept' that some forces find it too difficult to get data on the level of attacks on their officers.

Speaking about the Home Office’s decision to gather officer assault data from forces’ criminal records, he said 'the only issue is that they are asking for it on a voluntary basis so it’s up to forces'.

“Some forces say they find it difficult to get that data but I don’t accept that. My message to Chief Constables is surely you want to know true level of violence against your staff on a daily basis?

“If we’re to deal with this issue we need to know how big it is. Believe me, it’s bigger than the 23,000 assaults on officers across England and Wales that we currently know about. When we put the true picture to judiciary they will start to sit up and listen.”

South Yorkshire chairman Neil Bowles added: said: “We really do need to identify the exact problem before we can come up with solutions.

"Better personal safety training and more frequent rather than cutting it down like our forces are at the moment, reducing the amount of days you have to do it.

“Officers need self-defence skills. Like any sort of physical skill, you need to build muscle memory to do the certain actions. If you only do it once a year you just don’t remember to do it when you need to in a street fight.”