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When did it become OK for the police to electrocute children?

25 February 2015

11:23 AM

25 February 2015

11:23 AM

Hard as it may be to imagine, dear reader, once upon a time the police managed to fulfil their obligations to society without resorting to electrocuting children. The sky did not fall. Teenage ruffians did not run amok. Life went on, much as it had before.

Changed times, of course. These days, the carrying of Tasers has become increasingly normal. And when the police are armed as a matter of course, it’s no surprise that they are increasingly likely to deploy force. Even on children.

And pensioners.

The youngest person Tasered by the police in England and Wales in 2013 was 14 years old; the oldest a menacing 82 years old.


According to police statistics obtained by the BBC, officers Tasered 37 children in 2013. That, of course, is both a small number and a deplorably high number of incidents.

And, naturally, the number of such incidents continues to rise, year-on-year. We already know that Tasers kill people – or, rather, that people die soon after being Tasered – and it seems only a matter of time before a child dies in mysterious circumstances shortly after they’ve been electrocuted by police officers.

But, hey, if the police want surprisingly lethal non-lethal weaponry then who are we to complain? It’s a tough job and all that and everything and anything can be justified in the name of so-called public safety. What the police want, the police deserve to get. Right?

Wrong. This country has not, of course, militarised the police in the American manner but the general direction of travel – slow, for sure, but remorseless nonetheless – is all too apparent.

Again, it cannot be repeated too often that Tasers are not, whatever the police may say, safe. See here, here, here and here should you doubt that. So when a pensioner – or a child – next dies shortly after being Tasered don’t say you weren’t warned, don’t pretend to be surprised, don’t shrug your shoulders and suggest it’s just one of those things, don’t argue they had it coming and don’t maintain there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it.

Because we know these weapons are not safe and we know arming the police is a choice.

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