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British Transport Police to introduce TASER devices in Scotland

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A number of specially-trained British Transport Police (BTP) officers based in Scotland will soon have the capability to carry TASER devices – as part of the Force’s plans to further increase security across the country.

The move, which will come into effect over the coming weeks, ensures arrangements to protect the public in Scotland are consistent
with those in place elsewhere on the rail network. 

The decision comes following detailed discussions with Police Scotland and complements the existing, extensive joint-working between the two forces to protect the Scottish public. Scottish Ministers have also been briefed on this operational matter. 

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Alun Thomas said: “This decision is not based on specific intelligence of any criminal behaviour or imminent threat, but will allow us the option to deploy TASER devices where, in the course of their duty, an officer needs to protect the public or themselves by using force.

“The current threat to the UK from international terrorism remains ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely. Recent terrorist attacks across the world are a stark reminder that the threat from terrorism is a genuine risk, and it is important that we keep our security measures and operational tactics under constant review.

“In our assessment, the introduction of TASER devices in Scotland is a proportionate response and provides an additional option for our officers to consider when confronted with a genuine threat to themselves or the public. By way of example, in December last year, police deployed a TASER device against a man armed with a large bladed knife, preventing him cutting the throat of stranger who he had targeted at random at Leytonstone station, east London. Undoubtedly the use of the TASER device in this incident prevented even further harm to the travelling public.
“We believe that the public in Scotland deserve the same level of protection as people elsewhere on the rail network.”

Chief Supt John McBride, Divisional Commander for Scotland, said: “Our role at British Transport Police is to keep the public safe, along with the thousands of people working on the railways and our officers and staff.

“Across the UK every day, we have officers patrolling at stations to reassure the public, disrupt any criminal activity and respond to emerging incidents. Providing TASER devices to a number of our officers in Scotland to consider when confronted with extreme violence means we are better placed to deal with extreme threats and will be in the best possible position to protect passengers and staff on the railways.”

A TASER device can incapacitate an individual through the use of an electrical current. They will not be issued to all BTP officers based in Scotland, but to a number of officers who have successfully completed a rigorous accredited training programme.

In line with national guidance, each time a TASER device is deployed, the circumstances will be recorded and reviewed to verify that the device was properly used. In terms of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2013, BTP and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) have reached an agreement that BTP will refer certain serious incidents to the PIRC, including the discharge of TASER devices. The PIRC will assess the referral and determine whether an independent investigation into the incident is required. 


BTP follows the national Authorised Professional Practice guidance that only less lethal weapons that have been approved by the Home Secretary may be used by the UK police service. The Taser X26 and M26 are the only conducted energy devices currently authorised.

Please note that TASER is a registered Trade Mark of TASER International and, accordingly, the word ‘taser’ should not be used as a verb or a noun.


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