A number of recommendations have been made to Lancashire Constabulary following separate Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigations into the use of Taser at a custody suite.
The independent IPCC investigations looked at Lancashire Constabularyâ€™s decision to use Taser on different detainees held in cells at Burnley police station on 29 July 2012 and 15 September 2012.
Both incidents involved Taser being used by officers attempting to carry out strip searches, and led to complaints by the detainees.
The 29 July incident was referred to the IPCC on 24 September 2012 and the force was initially asked to carry out a local investigation. The IPCC reviewed that decision when the second complaint was referred to the IPCC on 14 February 2013. Both then became the subject of independent IPCC investigations.
The investigations looked at whether the use of Taser was justifiable and whether national policies and guidelines, as well as those of Lancashire Constabulary, were adhered to.
In both instances Lancashire Constabulary said the detainees presented a risk of violence to their officers while attempts were made to carry out strip searches.
The IPCC looked at CCTV evidence and interviewed custody officers and those responsible for authorising Taser use. A statement was taken from the complainant in the 15 September case but the subject of the 29 July case did not engage with the IPCC.
Although the investigations found that the use of Taser could be justified in both instances, there were some areas of concern highlighted by the IPCC.
An InspectorÂ Â was found to have a case to answer for misconduct for not properly recording his decision-making rationale to authorise use of Taser or properly carrying out a post-incident procedure in the 15 September case. A further performance issue was identified for a custody Sergeant whose booking-in procedures and recorded rationales for dealing with the detainee could also have been stronger. The force will now follow-up these matters with the officers under the performance arrangements to ensure that learning from these events takes place.
Lancashire Constabulary has also been asked to revisit guidance and training given to custody sergeants so that they are more aware of the procedures for use of Taser in custody suites.
The IPCC has also expressed concern and brought to the attention of the force inappropriate comments made by police officers both before and after Taser had been discharged.
As there were delays in both complaints being referred to the IPCC, Lancashire Constabulary has been reminded about the need to forward complaints in a timely manner.
During the investigations representatives from the IPCC attended Lancashire Constabularyâ€™s training school to observe a Taser training course and consulted six other, similar-sized forces about the use of Taser in custody cells between June 2012 and June 2013.
The forces reported a total of 18 Taser incidents in custody suites during the 12-month period, with the device being discharged four times. One use of drive-stun mode, where the device is pressed against a personâ€™s body, without the same incapacitating effect, was also recorded. None of the instances bore any similarity to the Lancashire cases and the responses did not show any themes.
James Dipple-Johnstone, the IPCC Commissioner for Lancashire, said: “The IPCC has a number of concerns about the use of Taser, including when it is used in confined spaces like police cells, where we believe it should only be used in exceptional circumstances. Although our investigations found that in both instances use of Taser could be justified, there are areas for Lancashire Constabulary to address.
“Recently released Home Office data shows that use of Taser by forces in England and Wales has increased significantly. Police forces must be vigilant to the risks to public confidence posed by the increase of use and ensure that all guidelines are adhered to and training for police officers is up to the proper standard.â€
Copies of the investigation reports have been published on the IPCCâ€™s externalÂ website