Police officers at Derbyshire Constabulary are using a virtual reality (VR) platform to help train in the use of Taser devices.
In a UK first, the kit sees officers placed in different scenarios using VR headsets. The Taser training team, based at the Constabulary’s headquarters in Ripley, is also carrying out a study in conjunction with Derby University on its effectiveness over 10 to 14 initial Taser training courses from September to December. Trainees will be questioned about their experiences and results will be collated and analysed.
Pete Moss, Taser Training Manager for Derbyshire Constabulary, said, “The system that has been developed by the AVRT team really is a game changer for our training of officers in the use of Taser.
“The realism really does have to be seen to be believed and the work the AVRT team have done to ensure that officers are able to use the same equipment they would when they are out on patrol has been absolutely outstanding.
“Being able to put officers in realistic situations – rather than the staged ones we set up as usual – really does take the training to a new level. With this we can help give officers more time in scenarios, which means they are even better prepared should they need to use a Taser in a critical moment.”
AVRT – Adaptive VR Training – the company behind the system, sought the feedback of more than 1000 police officers across the country during the development of its platform. The company worked closely with operational police users to design a training system that was based on the feedback of true experts in the field who experience, on a daily basis, the kinds of dynamic scenarios that AVRT presents.
The system is designed to simulate situations requiring a response from the officer, from basic conversation with subjects, up to and including the use of lethal and less-lethal force.
Andy Higgs, Project Manager and co-Founder of AVRT, said, “We believe this type of training in VR offers significant benefits to the police service and to the public through better trained officers. There is a whole story before use of force is even considered and the AVRT system allows officers to develop these skills in a way that doesn’t direct them down a particular course of action.
“The advantages are clear: better assessment of actions; greatly reduced risk in training sessions; enhanced realism vs traditional training methods; and greater repeatability and flexibility of training sessions.”
On top of the enhancements to training, the force also stands to benefit from considerable financial savings.
Pete Moss said, “First and foremost, the program offers some huge benefits for the training of officers. But a by-product of the new training is that, due to fewer Taser cartridges being used, there is the possibility of saving the force tens of thousands of pounds.”