The College of Policing is reviewing its policy on Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) tests in a development that could allow more officers to carry Taser. The Federation believes the current policy is unfair on officers with CVD which is said to affect one in 12 men and one in 200 women.
Jamie Thompson, chair of Cheshire Police Federation, explained: “We welcome the fact that the College of Policing is re-considering its stance on this issue. Under the current policy, there is almost a blanket ban on officers with CVD having access to Taser.
“However, it is now deciding whether to allowing these officers to undergo a functional test so their condition can be assessed individually which seems a fairer approach.” Steve Hartshorn, the Police Federation’s national firearms and Taser lead, has been pushing for the change to the college’s policy.
“Police officers with CVD are just as vulnerable to acts of violence against them as any other,” he said, “There is a genuine need to remove the requirement for a CVD test for what many see as essential police equipment. If they are in the job, they should be allowed to perform the full range of policing duties open to everyone.”
The Federation is working with a St Alban’s based optician which is the sole UK distributor for EnChroma lenses. These are proving ‘transformative’ for some officers with CVD although their enhancing capabilities vary from person to person. Current CVD testing does not allow colour correcting lenses to be used.
The review comes as forces undertake a wider roll-out of Taser since only 20 per cent of officers nationwide are currently trained to use the devices. The Federation’s national vice-chair, Ché Donald, has led calls for more officers to be trained and equipped with Taser.
“It will save lives or prevent officers receiving life changing injuries – in over 90 per cent of encounters where Taser is introduced it results in de-escalation – so the red dot alone diffuses 90 per cent of violent incidents. Our survey data shows that 76 per cent of officers are 'always or almost always single crewed' and we also know there is a significant increase in assaults against police officers, so we need to ensure they are properly equipped to do their job effectively. Taser is part of that regardless of whether you have CVD,” he said.