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Police Officer Safety

Part of Community Pharmacies – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of James Berry James Berry Conservative, Kingston and Surbiton 5:14 pm, 2nd November 2016

I most certainly do; this is a matter for local police and crime commissioners, but there has been a reduction in the number of complaints against the police when body-worn cameras have been used, because people know that they cannot try it on when there is evidence. These cameras also provide fantastic evidence in court when a police officer is assaulted. There has been a big improvement in the personal protective equipment available for the police, although there has been an issue with procurement, which I am glad the Home Office is looking at. When I see people from the Police Federation, one issue they raise is that officers want to be armed more routinely with Tasers, so that they can protect themselves. There is sometimes a misunderstanding about Tasers, as they are not non-lethal weapons, but less-lethal weapons. Unfortunately, people have died after being tasered, but Tasers are to be used only where the officer faces a lethal threat.

Another piece of police protective equipment that has been in the press recently is the spit guard. It is clear to me that if an officer faces being spat at in the face, they should be able, where appropriate, to use a spit guard. Liberty describes spit guards as “primitive, cruel and degrading”, but what I think is primitive and degrading is a police officer being spat at in the face. Perhaps the hon. Member for Halifax would like to send a copy of the Hansard report of her speech to the Mayor of London, who seems to have the same problem that Liberty has with spit guards.

The quality of training is another issue that police officers raise with me. Our police officers want to do a first-class job, and to do that they need first-class training so that they can do their job safely and well. I see an increased role here for the College of Policing, which currently validates training. That role would include registering officers who work in specialist areas, and providing syllabuses, validation and re-validation. I hope that that will be done under the banner of a royal college of policing, so that our professional police officers have the professional badge that many others working in professions have.