Tasers Legal Status
For ordinary people on the street Tasers are classed as firearms under s 5(1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1968. The possession of a taser is a strict liability criminal offence.
Historically police officers acting in the exercise of their duties, are however permitted to possess such firearms. It is not uncommon to see police officers on the streets carrying such weapons. Police officers using tasers require special training.
The Practice Historically
Historically however, a criminal practice direction from the courts said that police officers were not permitted to carry tasers in the precincts of magistrates and crown courts. The expectation has been that any police officer would need to remove a taser before entering a court.
Police Officers are now be able to carry tasers in court (as of the 16th November 2020). This change is the result of Police Federation campaigning with the view that such devices are now often routinely carried by police officers whilst on duty.
We can now expect to see police officers entering court buildings whilst wearing a taser to give evidence or apply for warrants.
The new rule is not absolute however. Where police carry a taser in a tactical scenario then an application must be made to the court for permission. This is to ensure the court is aware of the arrangements.
The change is not likely to impact the average person in the street. Any person who without lawful authority carries a taser will still commit a criminal offence. The change will be for police officers wanting to access court buildings at short notice. What will be interesting to monitor in the future will be whether the police remember to apply for permission to carry them on in tactical scenario.
For legal advice on the use of tasers and firearms, contact Farleys’ specialist firearms law team on 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.