Members will recall that in July 1997 the Government announced their policy on preventing British companies from manufacturing, selling or procuring equipment designed primarily for torture. Reference was made to the UK taking the necessary measures to prevent the export from or transhipment through the UK of portable devices designed or modified for riot control purposes or self-protection that administer an electric-shock. This included electric discharge shock guns, of which taser is a brand.
The Government are committed to maintaining this policy given their commitment to preventing British companies from manufacturing, selling or procuring equipment designed primarily for torture and to continuing to press for a global ban on such equipment.
We therefore propose to maintain this prohibition on the export, transhipment, and trade in such equipment to all destinations, except in certain very limited and specific circumstances with regard to tasers in specific cases relating to approved use by UK police.
The need to allow the limited export of tasers has arisen because of operational difficulties for UK police services, police services of the Crown dependencies and some British Overseas Territories who seek to use tasers, consistent with their use by UK police forces, as a measured alternative to the use of lethal force.
The Government will therefore now consider applications for the grant of a licence for the export of tasers, but only under the following limited circumstances:
(i) Where the export of tasers is to the police service of a Crown dependency or UK overseas territory and where it has been specifically recommended by Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary that such a police service adopts the use of such equipment by trained officers as an alternative to the use of lethal firearms, and that the use of the equipment is in line with the accepted standards set for UK police officers; or
(ii) Where tasers constitute officially issued equipment for use by suitably trained UK police officers who are being deployed in support of a police operation in a Crown dependency or overseas territory, and where that deployment has been requested by the chief police officer of the Crown dependency or overseas territory; or
(iii) Where the equipment belonging to a UK police force, the police service of a Crown dependency or UK overseas territory, or to an authorised agent working on their behalf, is being returned to the original manufacturer for repair, or replacement of faulty equipment, or as unwanted goods.