Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has expressed his concern at plans by Police Scotland for an extensive deployment of tasers in Orkney.
Mr McArthur held urgent talks with local Area Commander Chief Inspector Matt Webb earlier today regarding the plans to train 15 officers in Orkney in the use of tasers. Similar plans are also being taken forward in Shetland and the Western Isles between now and August.
Commenting on the issue following a call with the Chief Inspector, Mr McArthur said:
“Police officers and staff carry out difficult and often dangerous roles on our behalf. There is no question, therefore, that they need to have the means to keep both themselves and the public safe.
“Over recent years, however, despite regular meetings with local Area Commanders, at no point has it been suggested that there is an increased threat level in terms of police or public safety. More extensive deployment of tasers nationally has been justified by Police Scotland in the context of heightened risk, particularly of marauder attacks that have become all too familiar in recent years. However, it is difficult to see how this can be used to justify around half of the police officers in Orkney being trained to use tasers.
“Community policing in Orkney, as in many other rural areas of Scotland, is founded on the principle of policing by consent. The prospect of officers attending routine incidents or just being present in the community armed with tasers is one that sits uncomfortably with that principle. It is also questionable as to whether or not it will actually increase public confidence or sense of safety.
“I appreciate that Police Scotland must be responsible for taking operational decisions, but I have serious doubts about the basis and justification for this roll out in Orkney and the other island areas. I am grateful to the Chief Inspector for his engagement so far, but I will need some persuading that this approach is a proportionate one based on island circumstances”.