A Growing Threat to Life: Taser Usage by Greater Manchester Police
How we helped Resistance Lab publish their first report in both analogue and digital versions
Resistance Lab was a Manchester-based multi-disciplinary team of activists, campaigners and researchers who are aiming to dismantle the causes of state violence. GFSC were a founding member of Resistance Lab in 2019.
Following multiple conversations, workshops, data analysis and collective meetings, we finally decided on a crucial first topic: the alarming rise in the rate of Taser use by UK police, and the general transition to an armed force in general.
As a collective we worked with families affected by Taser violence, dug deep into public data on the topic, and produced a wide range of qualitative and quantitative outputs from interviews and desk research to interactive graphs and data repositories.
In August 2020, Resistance Lab published A Growing Threat to Life: Taser Usage by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), a report documenting the intrinsic and potentially lethal threat posed by Taser in the hands of police in England and Wales. We wrote the report in response to the stories of the many victims of police Taser usage here in Greater Manchester and around the country. Since their introduction in 2003, 18 people have died following Taser usage by police and many more have sustained serious injury and trauma. In many cases, these individuals and their families have fought protracted battles through complaints processes, independent investigations and the courts.
Despite multiple assurances to the contrary, Greater Manchester Police’s Taser use, like much of the country, is now the highest on record, with last year’s statistics showing an even more highly disproportionate impact on Black people and other vulnerable populations. Despite statements in support of Black Lives Matter from GMP, the institution of a new Race Equality panel, the imposition of ‘special measures’ on GMP, the resignation of the GMP’s their most senior officer over data mishandling, and Michael Gilchrist and his family finally getting justice after many years of dismissal from Manchester authorities, Greater Manchester Police have now announced they want to double the number of Tasers on the street.
Data collection and aggregation pipelines were published on a separate data portal, and all the graphs source was published on Observable notebooks to allow others to verify and reuse our work. We published hard copies of the report to distribute to community groups around Manchester, and held a YouTube stream discussing our work with leading thinkers working against police violence. We also did a short follow-on piece showing a huge discrepancy between official stats and what they were telling community groups in Manchester.
This report was a major news story, covered by Channel 4 and ITV Grenada, Vice, The Voice, Manchester Evening News, and The Meteor, among other sources.