The joint Specialist Operations department supports front line policing and the policing of major and critical incidents.
Tasers were introduced in the UK in 2003 for firearms officers. In 2007 it was extended to non-firearms officers known as Specially Trained Units (STU).
Taser is not the panacea for all violent incidents and on occasions is not always effective, great skill and judgement are required in order to use it effectively in appropriate circumstances.
The Taser is a single shot weapon designed to incapacitate a subject temporarily through the use of an electrical current, which temporarily interferes with the body’s neuromuscular system.
The normal reaction of a person exposed to the discharge of the Taser is the loss of some voluntary muscle control, resulting in the subject falling to the ground or ‘freezing’ on the spot.
Modes of Operation
The Taser is laser-sighted and uses cartridges attached to the end of the cartridge bay. The cartridges project a pair of barbs or darts attached to insulated wires. It may also be used in a direct contact stun mode.
The Taser may be operated with or without the cartridge that fires the wires and contact barbs. The electric charge can therefore be delivered to a subject either by:
- Means of two barbs, attached to the weapon by fine insulated wires, fired into the subject or their clothing
- ‘Angled drive stun’ - This is the description given when a cartridge has been fired and one of the barbs has hit the subject and the other barb has missed, or the barb separation is not great enough to cause an effective NMI (Neuro Muscular Incapacitation). The fired cartridge, whilst still attached to the Taser unit, is then pushed into the subject and therefore completes the circuit.
- Direct contact with the device in ‘drive stun’ mode. This method of delivery can be achieved with either no cartridge fitted or when a cartridge is still attached. Although this mode of operation is still legitimate, it is not encouraged as it is reliant on pain compliance as opposed to NMI.
Tasers can only be deployed by Authorised Firearms Officers or Specially Trained Units (STUs).
In addition to Authorised Firearms Officers there are 136 Specially Trained Units, they are spread around the county with the intention of ensuring an even spread of STU officers across each shift.
Taser will only be authorised by an accredited Tactical Firearms Commander who will apply the use of the NDM to assist in their decision making process. There may be occasions where an incident occurs in front of the Taser officer and they can self-arm.
During the month of August;
- There were 78 Taser deployments
- Of the 78 deployments a Taser was only fired four times
- On 10 occasions where the Taser was drawn and pointed at the subject and once the red dot was illuminated on the subject the incident was resolved.
Definition of Use
The term ‘use of the TASER’ will include any of the following actions carried out in an operational setting:
- Drawing the Taser in circumstances where any person could reasonably perceive the action, as a use of force
- Sparking of the Taser, commonly known as ‘arcing’ – in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to provide a visual display of the sparking effect of the unloaded Taser which may provide a visual deterrent.
- Aiming the Taser or placing the laser sight red dot onto a subject
- Firing a Taser so that the barbs are discharged at a subject or animal
- Application and discharge of a Taser in both angled and drive stun modes
Selection and Training
The number of STUs will be sufficient to support operational deployments within Norfolk and Suffolk. The numbers of STUs will be coordinated by the Chief Inspector Specialist Operations who will link in with the relevant force County Policing Commanders and will be subject to review in line with the Firearms Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment.
There is a 3 Stage process to become a STU.
Stage 1 – Recommendation by line manager for the role of STU
Stage 2 – Personal Safety Training and First Aid check to ensure current and competent in both.
Stage 3 – Attendance at selection day
The selection will consist of the following:-
• Eyesight Test
• Knowledge Check – This will be based around the use of force and the NDM.
• Isolation Drills and Emotionally and Mentally Distressed Scenario
Successful candidates will progress to an STU course.
All authorised Firearms Officers will receive regular training with the use of Tasers.
Taser Self Authorised
Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit
The Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit (RPFOU) is responsible for the reduction of Killed and Serious Injury (KSI) collisions, tackling criminality on the roads and delivering a spontaneous and pre-planned firearms capability to both counties.
The RPFOU consists of armed and unarmed officers with a variety of skills including:
- Armed Response Vehicles (ARV)
- Convoy/special escort drivers/riders
- Vehicle examiners
- Family Liaison Officers (FLO).
The priority of keeping the roads in Norfolk and Suffolk safe sees an emphasis on enforcement and education around the 4 major contributory factors to KSI's, the 'Fatal Four'. These are:
- drink/drug driving
- not wearing a seat belt
- using a mobile phone.
The RPFOU is committed to targeting motorists that offend in these areas, with outcomes resulting in educational courses to improve driver behaviour or by way of prosecution.
Within the RPFOU are the Serious Collision Investigation Team (SCIT) and the Casualty Reduction Team (CRT).
The SCIT has responsibility for the investigation of collisions resulting in a fatality or life changing injuries. This team of forensic collision experts and specialist investigators provide an essential link to the Norfolk and Suffolk Coroners and CPS. This link is essential to ensure any criminal proceedings resulting from a fatal collision are supported scientifically and to enable the coroners to reach an appropriate verdict on inquests.
The CRT takes the lead on multi-agency road safety activities, engaging with young drivers to provide educational guidance and to highlight the risks of poor driver behaviour. It also proactively targets offending motorists with an emphasis on the Fatal Four and aims to increase public confidence though high-visibility policing in areas affected by the anti-social use of motor vehicles.
The Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Firearms Training Unit provides initial, specialist and ongoing training for all Norfolk and Suffolk Authorised Firearms Officers (AFO). Police AFO’s undergo rigorous training and frequent re-examination to ensure their accreditation and very high standard is maintained.
The Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Firearms Licensing Unit is responsible for:
- the issue of certificates and permits for firearms, shotguns and explosives
- providing advice and guidance on firearm and explosives related matters
- the disposal of unwanted firearms and ammunition.
For more information on firearms licensing please visit our firearms licensing section.
The Events Planning Unit is responsible for planning and coordinating a consistent policing response to events across Norfolk and Suffolk.
The unit provides police representation to each Local Council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG). These groups are responsible for providing advice and guidance to event organisers to ensure events are run safely. Choose your local area link below to find out more about the Safety Advisory Group near you:
For further information on SAGs visit the Health & Safety Executive.
Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies’ Joint Dog Section is led by an Inspector and supported by one Sergeant and 25 Police Constable Dog handlers.
All of the handlers have a Home Office licensed general purpose dog which is either a German Shepherd or a Belgium Malinois.
These dogs are skilled in many areas and are routinely used for:
- tracking or searching for missing people or criminals
- searching for items of property which have been recently discarded
- the detention of a suspect
- deployment into a variety of public disorder operations from football matches to large scale civil disobedience; all of our general purpose dogs have been trained in public order tactics.
Most of the general purpose police dogs are bred for the role and undergo an initial assessment to see whether they are likely to succeed on the licensing course. Others are gifted to the Constabulary by their owners who for a variety of reasons have decided to let the dog go.
Some handlers also have a specialist search dog which will either detect explosives, drugs, cash or firearms. The majority of breeds used for this role are Spaniels and Labradors. Some of the specialist search dogs come from rescue centres and are assessed to check their suitability for the role.
The dogs live with their handlers and traditionally serve for about seven years after which they are retired. Normally the bond between handler and their dog is so strong that the handler will keep the dog as a pet, however on other occasions the dog is re-homed to suitable candidates who can fulfil the strict criteria.
Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies are Category 1 responders in accordance with the Civil Contingencies Act.
It is the responsibility of Specialist Operations & Contingency Planning to ensure that the Constabularies are always in a state of preparedness for any type of major incident or disaster. This preparedness includes writing, exercising and revising major incident and contingency plans.
Both Constabularies are members of their respective Local Resilience Forum - a multi-agency group whose organisations are responsible for planning for and responding to major incidents.
The Civil Contingencies Act (CCA) 2004 places a duty on the police to produce business continuity plans to ensure they can continue to carry out their civil protection functions and maintain critical services in the event of an emergency.
The Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Business Continuity Manager ensures compliance with the CCA by overseeing a business continuity management framework:
- Identification of significant risks threatening the performance of critical functions in the event of an emergency or disruption and develop appropriate continuity strategies.
- Ensure Business Continuity Plans are in place and that critical functions can continue in the event of an emergency.
- Delivery of a robust programme for exercising and reviewing Business Continuity Plans in order to ensure effectiveness.