The vast majority of Taser use by police in Scotland in the last year has been found to be necessary, proportionate and justified.

The findings are highlighted in the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) 2018-19 annual report. PIRC investigations also found that one third of all Taser uses referred throughout the year related to incidents involving self-harm or circumstances where officers were aiming to protect people who were mentally or emotionally disturbed and posing a serious threat to themselves or others.

PIRC’s annual report covers the period between April 2018 and March 2019, during which 34 uses of Taser were referred to the independent policing agency for assessment. Seven of those were investigated fully, and all but one were found to be appropriate in the circumstances. The report also highlighted:

  • Policing bodies have implemented 98% of all recommendations made by the PIRC review team in 2018-19
  • 12% reduction in the number of applications for a complaint handling review in 2018-19
  • PIRC reviewed 527 individual heads of complaint and completed 137 complaint handling reviews (CHRs)
  • COPFS and policing bodies referred 508 matters to the PIRC in 2018-19, all of which were thoroughly assessed and 67 taken to a full investigation

Head of Investigations at PIRC, John McSporran, said:

“In the vast majority of incidents where Tasers were used by Specially Trained Officers, it has allowed them to resolve incidents swiftly, increasing officer and public safety, which is very reassuring.
“Moreover, our findings show a large number of occasions where officers have used Tasers in order to limit or prevent self-harming by people suffering from mental health issues, and in some cases have potentially prevented deaths.”

PIRC’s annual report can be read in full here.


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