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Scottish transport police to carry Tasers because of ‘severe’ terror risk

Police on Scottish railways have been given the power to carry Tasers in case of potential extreme threats such as terror attacks.

British Transport Police (BTP) announced today that a number of specially-trained officers will begin carrying the weapons, which can incapacitate an individual through an electric shock, in the coming weeks.

Alun Thomas, temporary assistant chief constable at the BTP, linked the new measures to the risk of terror attacks.

“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,” he said. “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.”

In June, Muhiddin Mire was found guilty of attempted murder for stabbing a man at Leytonstone Tube station last December. Mire, who claimed he was carrying out the attack for his “Syrian brothers”, was subdued with a Taser before arrest.

In March, the BTP announced that it was deploying extra resources on Britain’s transport network following the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Three suicide bombers, two at Zaventem airport and one at Maelbeek metro station, killed 34 people.

In 2015, the BTP said that overall crime on Britain’s railways had fallen by 8% in the past year, but the most serious violent and sexual offences had increased.

Chief superintendent John McBride, divisional commander for Scotland, said: “Our role at BTP 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.”

The decision was taken following discussions with Police Scotland and the Scottish government. 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.

BTP will also refer any incidents where Tasers are discharged to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner to enable them to decide whether an independent investigation is needed.

(Image c. BTP)

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