The implications of the use of 'less lethal weapons'

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A new joint report by Amnesty International and Omega Research Foundation investigates the human rights impact of less lethal weapons and other law enforcement equipment used in places of detention and in policing of protests. 

It looks at weapons in five categories: restraints, kinetic impact devices, chemical irritants (including riot control agents), electric shock devices, and other technologies such as acoustic devices. 

The report assesses whether each weapon has particular physical effects and human rights concerns. It also asks whether each weapon has a legitimate use and if so, what the necessary controls should be to prevent abuse, or whether the weapon should be prohibited altogether. 

Last year the Guardian reported on Home Office figures that showed taser use on the rise in the UK. Between January and June 2014 tasers were used 5,107 times by police officers in England and Wales, compared to 4,999 times in the same period in 2013, and 1,297 times in 2009. Of the 5,107 occasions they were used in the first half of 2014, they were fired 826 times.

On 5 May we're holding a roundtable to discuss the implications of the growing use of tasers in the UK in the wake of the vote by the Police Federation in favour of all frontline uniformed officers being offered a taser. Speakers so far include:

  • Sophie Khan from the Police Action Centre
  • Louise King of the Children's Rights Alliance for England
  • Neal Corney from the Omega Research Foundation