Jonny Bucknell is one of the Conservative group's best known councillors
Published: 24 April, 2014
By PAVAN AMARA
ONE of the Conservatives’ most experienced councillors has called for all Camden police officers to be armed with Tasers so “they can sort out the Camden Town drunks on Friday night”.
Belsize councillor Jonny Bucknell said every officer should be armed with the weapons – which fire a 50,000-volt electrical charge to stun an individual – for use when “anyone gets ratty”.
Cllr Bucknell said: “The police are human beings, and sometimes they lash out or start using batons. Arming police with Tasers is better than using the old firearms. Tasers have never been responsible for a full-scale inquiry.”
He added: “As soon as people don’t respond well, they start getting out of their tree, or get angry or drunk, we should use these.
“A lot of the time they wouldn’t even have to be stunned, seeing the red light of a laser alone would make people think, ‘Woah, this is serious’. It would save police time waiting for Taser back-up to arrive, because they’d already have one right there.
“The police spend too much time remonstrating with drunks. They do an excellent job, but sometimes a drunk doesn’t quite get the message and they can go on and on when they’re in that state. It would save money, because instead of wasting all that police time, these people would see the red light of a Taser and get on their way. If they don’t play ball, then face the consequences, but it would still make things move faster. Once they’ve been stunned, then get them in the back of a police van and down to Kentish Town police station, and on to the next job. They’d get a lot more work done.”
Tasers have been used by a minority of specially trained officers in police forces across the UK since 2003. But there have been concerns they have been used in increasingly minor incidents, including to subdue protesters and to control crowds.
At the end of last year, Mayor Boris Johnson said Tasers had been used 65 times when Camden and Barnet Assembly member Andrew Dismore asked how many times they had been used in Camden. Mr Johnson said that eight people had been injured.
The Mayor added: “Two experienced body stiffness and shaking, wounds were recorded in four cases, in one incident the subject bumped his head after falling when the Taser caused ‘neuromuscular incapacitation’ and another experienced a high pulse rate.
“All were said to be ‘normal experiences after firing’.”
But Alex Proud, who owns the Proud Gallery in Camden Town, said Cllr Bucknell’s plan was “the dumbest idea I have ever heard in over 20 years”.
He added: “I have heard some pretty stupid ideas in my time, but this tops the list. Even for an old, right-wing, Tory councillor, this is idiotic beyond belief. If he’s coming out with ideas like this, I don’t see why he doesn’t just join UKIP and go the full way by arresting foreigners in Camden Town because they might be illegal. That sounds right up his street given his lack of logic. He might as well say we should get rid of Buckingham Palace because it’s blocking the road. Whether he likes it or not, the late-night music industry in Camden Town employs thousands of people, and is internationally famous. If that actually happened – which it wouldn’t do because it is illegal, against EU legislation and probably the Metropolitan Police’s own legislation – it would result in hundreds of people becoming unemployed because of the effect it would have on the late-night music industry. I would really like to invite him to my premises, then I would like to Taser him, and then take a photo and put it in the newspaper. It’s something I would like this Tory councillor to personally experience.”
A police spokeswoman said they did not want to comment on Cllr Bucknell’s “personal views”.