The sister of a man who died in Falmouth after being Tasered by police has renewed her call for an immediate ban to repeated and prolonged Tasering of vulnerable people, saying: "My brother deserves justice."

It's as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) warns that the use of Tasers by police risks "losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the public" if concerns in the community are not addressed through improvements to national guidance, training and scrutiny.

The warning follows the publication of a review of 101 independent investigations carried out by the IOPC between 2015 and 2020, which involved a Taser being used.

The review looked at existing data and research, and considered the views of a range of community groups and other stakeholders.

Among the cases was the death of Marc Cole, who died after an incident on Langton Road in Falmouth in May 2017.

A jury at an inquest into the death of the 30-year-old, held last year, found his death was caused by “excess use of cocaine resulting in paranoid and erratic behaviour, with the use of a Taser having more than a trivial impact on Mr Cole’s death.”

His family has longed called for a change to Taser training and a ban on repeated Tasering of vulnerable people in mental health crisis.

After the inquest Geraint Williams, assistant coroner for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, wrote to both the Home Secretary and the College of Policing about the "potential for incremental risk with multiple Taser activations", adding: "There is insufficient independent data as to the lethality of Taser use."

However, Kit Malthouse, the Minister for crime and policing, told the coroner having "carefully reviewed the processes and safeguards in place" he was "satisfied that they are adequate".


Now, speaking after the publication of the IOPC's report, Marc's sister Lisa Renee Cole told the Packet: "Marc was cited in this report because he died a brutal, unnecessary death whilst he was vulnerable.

"One Taser death is too many but there are mounting numbers being recorded. Each one of them is somebody’s son.

"How can police be expected to treat those with mental ill health humanely when their superiors think their lives are statistically insignificant?

"We have been calling for an immediate ban to the repeated and prolonged Tasering of vulnerable people to prevent any future loss of life for many years. Both the police and Home Secretary have rejected these calls despite growing pressure from various organisations.

"I am sure they would like me to go away and forget about this now but I will never do that. My brother deserves justice."


A police officer with a Taser Picture: Getty Images

A police officer with a Taser Picture: Getty Images


The IOPC report makes 17 recommendations – to the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and the Home Office – seeking improvements to national guidance and training; scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use; and data and research.

Commenting on the findings, IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said: “There is no doubt that Tasers are a valuable tool for keeping both the public and police safe in dangerous circumstances.

“However, it is important there is ongoing independent scrutiny of Taser use so that both the police and the community can be assured they are being used appropriately.

"Clearer national guidance on the circumstances in which Taser should and should not be used and better training will improve officer safety, as well as give the public reassurance that Taser is being used only when absolutely necessary.

“Police forces must be able to justify to the public the circumstances in which Taser is deployed, particularly when children and vulnerable people are involved. Forces must also respond to the disproportionate use of Tasers against Black people.”

The review highlighted concerns about the number of cases – almost a third – where the IOPC identified potential missed opportunities to de-escalate the situation. There were also concerns around prolonged and multiple Taser discharges.

Mr Lockwood added: "Ultimately, policing has to change and be more responsive to community concern or risk losing legitimacy in the eyes of the public. These recommendations now sit with policing bodies and forces to act on.”

Devon and Cornwall Police referred the Packet to a national response put out by the National Police Chiefs' Council following the report's publication.


The National Police Chiefs Council lead for Less Lethal Weapons, Chief Constable Lucy DOrsi Picture: NPCC

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Less Lethal Weapons, Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi Picture: NPCC


In it, the Council's lead for less lethal weapons, Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi, said: "Unfortunately, this report by the IOPC is vague, lacks detail, does not have a substantive evidence base and regrettably ignores extensive pieces of work that are already well underway and, indeed, other areas where improvement could be made.

"I advised the IOPC of my concerns and am extremely disappointed that it did not engage with policing, attend a Taser training course or consult the national independent experts who we work with whilst undertaking its initial research.

"Only 101 Taser uses over a five-year period were reviewed and these were all ones that had been investigated by the IOPC. It is concerning that this only represents 0.1 per cent of all Taser uses in the same period, which totals 94,045.

"Focusing on these smaller number of cases missed an opportunity to consider Taser use more broadly and unfortunately has resulted in recommendations which are mostly out of date and not based on the realities of policing. The focus on such a small data set ignores good practice and learning elsewhere."

You can read her full response here.