I was alarmed to read an article in The Independent, 9th June, 2021, (the subject of which has also been published by The Daily Mail), relating to the Home Secretary’s comment that police should start “zapping” serious criminals as lockdown eases.

Birmingham based Bishop Desmond Jaddoo from the ‘We Matter Party’,  pointed out the awful timing of such a statement, given that there was an ongoing trial in relation to excessive misuse of tasers here in Birmingham at the time Mrs. Patel’s comments.

Further to reading about this, I wrote to my MP asking her to please write to the Home Secretary, Mrs. Patel, asking her to clarify her comments. Even though I am a Conservative voter and a former police officer I don’t raise this on a political level but a fundamental point of human rights and faith. For any politician to make such a statement is alarming, if she was, as suggested, encouraging police to taser offenders.

If it had ever been made compulsory to carry a gun when I was a police officer, I would have resigned. My CS spray required a type of Fire Arms licence before I could carry it operationally but I’m glad to say that I personally never came across a situation justifying its use. I also believe that tasers and fire arms must only be used as a last resort for the safety of Officers and public alike.

We were always taught that any use of force had to be defensive, proportionate, necessary and reasonable. To even draw a baton in public, let alone use it, had to be justifiable and then documented.

If Mrs. Patel’s words were intended to be interpreted as they have been reported by the local press, this is very worrying and suggests that she is encouraging discharging of tasers as a punitive method of law enforcement or even worse, that of illegal methods of policing.

You might feel that my choice of the word “punitive” is partisan here, but the use of “more painful” tasers has been sanctioned, as acknowledged in the press: www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-tasers-home-office-england-wales-taser-7-watchdog-a9686091.html%3famp

This is not the first occasion in which her views have suggested draconian ideologies on law and order, for example, her view on capital punishment.

My Anglican Quaker beliefs and the beliefs of the world religions, which I greatly admire, lead me to believe that the deployment of any weapon must be an absolute last resort and that physical punishment is incompatible with the will of God, but also with the laws and moral codes of any civilised society.

Furthermore, since writing to my MP, the Officer has, indeed, been convicted of the manslaughter of black football Dalian Atkinson. Home Office statistics have been quoted suggesting that black people are also more likely to be tasered.

I would encourage readers to write to their MPs asking if they would request clarification on exactly what Mrs. Patel was advocating and to express your concerns about use of force in contemporary policing in 2021, as it stands.

In closing, I’d like to share the following quotation: ‘Conscientious objection is not a total repudiation of force; it is a refusal to surrender moral responsibility for one’s actions’, Quaker Faith & Practice, [24. 25.]   It is this moral responsibility I urge the Home Secretary to take in reconsidering the influential impact her words could have on recent occasions.

For more information:

Full Chief Constable’s  statement:

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/west-mercia-police-statement-full-20887728

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jun/24/dalian-atkinson-jury-discharged-failing-reach-verdict-pc

Government website on Tasers approved by Priti Patel:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/priti-patel-approves-new-taser-model-to-protect-officers-and-the-public

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-tasers-home-office-england-wales-taser-7-watchdog-a9686091.html%3famp

 

Lin Barrington: I am a Quaker and found out about APF when I attended Conscientious Objectors Day earlier in the year. I currently play the organ for an Anglican church once a month where I’m on the Electoral Roll and thoroughly enjoy the fellowship of Anglicans and Quakers alike.

 

Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide a space for people associated with APF to express their own personal views and opinions in order to promote discussion of issues relating to peacemaking and pacifism  It is not necessarily a place where the official views of APF are expressed.

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