An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IPCC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IPCC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IPCC.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.

The appropriate authority can be:

  • the chief officer of the police force
  • the Police and Crime Commissioner responsible for the police force you complained about
  • the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service)
  • the Common Council for the City of London (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the City of London police).
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
A person is adversely affected is he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
IPCC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer complained about.
Consists of a chair, two deputy chairs, and commissioners – each responsible for specific police forces, guardianship work and individual cases.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever manner it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only take place in certain limited circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IPCC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter; and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into a complaint and produces a report that details the outcome of each allegation. There are four types of investigation: local investigation, supervised investigation, managed investigation and independent investigation.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
The IPCC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
An application by a complainant for a police decision to be reviewed.

IPCC review of Taser use and complaints published

Jul 22, 2014

Taser use should be closely analysed and each use robustly justified to ensure the device is being used appropriately and not as a default when other options may be available, according to an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report published today.

The report, which follows an IPCC review of complaints and incidents relating to Taser use from 2004 to 2013, acknowledges that Taser can be a valuable tool in helping police officers manage difficult and challenging situations.

But with more officers now equipped with Tasers and with the number of complaints rising in-line with the increased use, the IPCC recommends that local forces should guard against the possibility that it is being over-used.

For example, the IPCC’s analysis of Home Office data shows considerable disparity in Taser use between forces, with some smaller forces having a proportionately much higher rate of Taser use in relation to their size. There is no obvious explanation for this, and the IPCC will further explore this with police forces.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said:

"The IPCC has always accepted that there are legitimate reasons for using Taser in policing and that it can be a valuable tool in assisting police officers to manage difficult and challenging situations. However, in light of the significant increase in Taser use, it is important to ensure that the device is being used appropriately and not as a default choice where other tactical options, including communication, could be effective. For that reason, it is very important that each individual use can be justified and that forces closely analyse the extent and type of use.”

The report also raises concerns about the use of Taser:

  • on people in police custody
  • on people who are particularly vulnerable, such as those with mental health concerns or young people
  • in drive-stun mode (when the Taser is applied directly to the body rather than being fired from a distance)

IPCC investigations have examined Taser use on people who are in police custody. The IPCC believes this is only justifiable in exceptional circumstances, taking into account the controlled nature of the custody environment.

In relation to the use of Taser on young people or those with mental disorders, the IPCC considers that all decisions on the use of Taser should take into account the specific vulnerabilities of an individual and these considerations should be recorded in officers’ justifications.

The IPCC has previously raised concerns about the use of the device in drive-stun mode. Though this is only a minority of uses, it is still a major concern.

IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said:

"The IPCC has major concerns about the use of Tasers in drive-stun mode, where the Taser is applied directly to the body without a cartridge rather than fired from a distance. When used in this way it is purely a means of pain compliance. Yet in several of the cases we reviewed, where it was used for the purpose of gaining compliance, it had the opposite effect, stimulating further resistance.”

IPCC recommendations in today’s report include:

  • stronger and clearer guidance on the use of Taser in custody, where the IPCC believes it should only be used in the most exceptional circumstances
  • wider safety training for non-Taser equipped officers working with Taser-trained officers
  • robust monitoring of Taser use by local forces to ensure it is not being used too readily or too often by particular officers or teams
  • ensuring the selection process for Taser-trained officers and subsequent supervision is robust

Today’s report is only part of the IPCC’s work in relation to Taser use.

A Learning the Lessons bulletin also was published by the IPCC today. The bulletin is separate to the IPCC’s report on Taser and produced in conjunction with policing bodies, setting out case studies and learning from individual investigations.

In addition, there are a number of significant IPCC ongoing investigations relating to Taser use which will inform our work and recommendations. The IPCC is also carrying out a wider review of all types of police use of force, in which use of Taser will also be examined.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries contact the IPCC press office on 0161 246 8633

A copy of the report can be found here.

*Annex II of the report – Dyfed-Powys and City of London police forces reported the lowest use of Taser with two uses per 100 officers in 2013. Staffordshire had the highest level with 33 uses per 100 officers (use of Taser includes instances where the device is drawn, aimed, arced, red-dotted, drive-stun, angled drive-stun, and fired)

A copy of the previous IPCC Taser report can be found here.

IPCC involvement in Taser use

The IPCC initially asked all police forces to refer all Taser discharges.

In May 2005 asked for referral of cases that resulted in death or serious injury.

In 2007 asked 10 forces included in an expansion trial to refer all public complaints about Taser use.

Following national rollout of Taser in 2009 the IPCC asked all forces in England and Wales to refer all complaints about the use of Taser.

An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IPCC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IPCC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IPCC.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.

The appropriate authority can be:

  • the chief officer of the police force
  • the Police and Crime Commissioner responsible for the police force you complained about
  • the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service)
  • the Common Council for the City of London (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the City of London police).
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
A person is adversely affected is he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
IPCC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer complained about.
Consists of a chair, two deputy chairs, and commissioners – each responsible for specific police forces, guardianship work and individual cases.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever manner it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only take place in certain limited circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IPCC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter; and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into a complaint and produces a report that details the outcome of each allegation. There are four types of investigation: local investigation, supervised investigation, managed investigation and independent investigation.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
The IPCC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
An application by a complainant for a police decision to be reviewed.