Police Use of Taser in England and Wales, 2004 – 2014.
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to place an embargo on my thesis to be made universally accessible via ORE, the online institutional repository, for a standard period of 18 months because I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
This thesis constitutes one of the first attempts to investigate police use of the electric-shock weapon the Taser in England and Wales, between 2004 – 2014. The research combines an inter-disciplinary approach—drawing on the criminology and policing literature, as well as on Science and Technology Studies (STS), Actor Network Theory (ANT) and Social Psychology—with mixed methods and novel data sources. It benefits from virtually unprecedented access to sources including internal police datasets, the College of Policing’s Lead Instructor Taser Training, Taser training in two forces, interviews with police officers and individuals subject to Taser. The thesis first explores how, and in what circumstances, Taser is used in selected forces in England and Wales, before looking at consequences of use for officers and subjects. It then discusses the broader legal, policy, training and accountability framework around the weapon, via an examination of three inter-related and widespread stories told about the weapon and its regulation: that Taser is a neutral tool, that appropriate use is a responsibility for, and at the discretion of, individual officers, and that it is subject to robust accountability mechanisms. It is argued that these stories, whilst not incorrect, are incomplete. Descriptions of the weapon as a neutral tool are understandable but not always convincing, decisions on its use are not just the preserve of individual officers, and accountability mechanisms are not always as robust as is claimed. The conclusions have implications for practitioners and for the literature on Taser. They also contribute to wider criminology debates around use of force, discretion and accountability, and to sociological debates about the relevance of STS and ANT approaches. Finally, the thesis not only highlights areas for future research, but also highlights some tentative recommendations for policy and practice.
Economic and Social Research Council
PhD in Security, Conflict and Justice