COMMONS

MPs question decision to award taser contract to company linked to previous supplier

07 March 2011

Committee question Home Office decision to award taser contract to company linked to previous supplier.

In a brief report, the Home Affairs Committee highlights areas of concern in the supply of tasers to police forces in England and Wales including the issue of having a monopoly distributor of tasers. This monopoly supplier had their authority revoked after one of the directors of the company gave an 'unauthorised' taser to police for use in the hunt for Raoul Moat. 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. During the course of the evidence session, the Committee discovered that a new company had been awarded the authority to supply tasers to police forces in England and Wales.

The Committee:

  • Is concerned that police forces in England and Wales were close to running out of taser cartridges following the revocation of the authority of the original company
  • Raises concerns that there appeared to be widespread confusion about the parameters of the authority to supply tasers. Not only did the company distribute an 'unauthorised' taser to Northumbria Police, it had previously sold the same make of taser to the National Police Improvement Agency
  • Notes that the new holder of the authority to supply tasers 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
  • Raises concerns about the adequacy of a monopoly supplier business model in police procurement and urges the Home Office to examine other options in order to encourage competition and ensure that potential monopoly profits are not given to a particular company or group of individuals.

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz, Chairman of the Committee said: 
 

"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, the New Landscape of Policing."

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