HUNDREDS more police officers could be armed with Taser guns to respond to violence on the streets of Hampshire, the Daily Echo can reveal.
The county’s new chief constable Andy Marsh said a review was under way that could see frontline police in rural communities given the weapon to assist in the fight against crime.
It comes as new figures reveal that there were 70 crimes involving firearms in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight during the past year and after repeated attacks and assaults on officers and PCSOs in the past six weeks.
The Daily Echo reported how in Southampton last month an officer needed hospital treatment after being assaulted while chasing a youth in Fritham Road, Harefield.
He suffered a damaged knee ligament, cuts and bruising and a deep gash to his head that required ten stitches.
Meanwhile, during the New Year period, 11 officers and three PCSOs were attacked during a spate of violence across the county.
Mr Marsh, 46, who was appointed chief constable after being the favoured candidate of Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes, revealed the Taser plan during his first interview with the Daily Echo since he took up post on Monday.
He had held the post of deputy chief constable since joining the force in September 2010 from Wiltshire Constabulary.
He is also the country’s leading police officer for firearms and shotguns and advises the 43 forces in England and Wales on how to grant, revoke and renew more than 700,000 gun certificates which currently exist.
Mr Marsh said he worried about the safety of officers on the front line and wanted to ensure they were equipped to do “a dangerous job”.
He said: “I am reviewing the number of officers equipped with Taser and it may well be that we extend the use of Taser to officers in isolated and rural communities so they can better protect themselves and the people living there.
“There isn’t strong evidence of a rise in violence to police officers but I do not regard any violence as acceptable and if that means we have to equip them then that is what we will do.”
Currently only armed officers are issued with Tasers in Hampshire while more carry the weapon on the Isle of Wight.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: Find out what top cop Andy Marsh had to say in response to your questions about officer numbers, council tax hikes, an armed robbery in Southampton, police integrity and the work being done to police Hampshire’s roads ONLY IN TOMORROW’S DAILY ECHO