MPs concerned over monopoly supply of Tasers

10 March 2011
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10 March 2011 | Lindsay Clark

The police’s purchase of Taser stun devices has been criticised by the UK HomeAffairs Committee.

The committee of MPs questioned the adequacy of a monopoly supplier business model in police procurement of the devices and urged the Home Office to examine other options in order to encourage competition.

A monopoly provider, Pro-Tect Systems, had its licence to supply weapons revoked after one of the directors of the company gave an “unauthorised” Taser to police.

“Following the revocation of the authority, the Home Affairs Committee held an urgent evidence session in response to suggestions that some police forces were due to run out of Taser stock,” the Committee report said.

In its hearings, the Committee discovered a new company had been awarded the authority to supply Tasers to police forces in England and Wales, but was concerned about how closely it was linked to the original supplier.

“The new holder of the authority to supply Tasers [Tactical Safety Responses] to police forces in England and Wales is extensively linked to the former distributor, the new company consisting of more or less identical personnel operating in the same premises with a near-duplicate website,” concluded the report.

During committee hearing, police officers told MPs that the choice of the replacement supplier was a “commercial decision for Taser International” - the firm which manufactures the weapons. Only its stun guns are authorised for use in the UK.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said in a statement: "Whilst we are pleased the Home Office has resolved the matter of dwindling stock, the fact that the new supplier is so closely linked to the previous supplier raises serious questions about the authorisation and procurement processes. It is unacceptable that there appears to be confusion in an area of policy that deals with a weapon that has been deployed over 6,000 times by police in this country.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and intend to further examine police procurement as a whole in our next inquiry," he added.

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