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Taser use doubles in two years

By DPF Admin10th September 2013Latest News

The devices were used 7,877 times in 2011, compared to 3,328 times in 2009.

However, in only a minority of cases (20.8% in 2011) were they actually fired. In most situations they were used in preparation or as a warning.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is probing 12 Taser-related incidents, three involving deaths.

Human rights group Amnesty International said it was “concerned” about the figures and called for only a small number of officers to be allowed to use the weapons.

“The increasing rollout of Tasers across the UK is a grave concern. Amnesty International is worried about every bobby on the beat having a Taser on their belt – it's not a modern truncheon,” said the group's UK director Kate Allen.

'Serious weapons'

She added: “A Taser doesn't just give a little tingle – it's a potentially lethal 50,000-volt weapon and should not be spoken of as some sort of 'natural progression' of the standard policing kit.”

Her concerns were echoed by solicitor Jules Carey, who represents clients taking legal action over stun gun use. He said the range and volume of weapons available to police had risen consistently since 1995, despite falling crime.

Mr Carey said: “It is not merely the size of the police arsenals that are of concern to the public, it's a general lack of confidence in police officers using the weapons appropriately, or having the judgement to assess what constitutes a proportionate response.

“Tasers are serious weapons and are not always 'less-than-lethal' as originally intended. They should never be used in routine policing for instance to make restraint easier.

“They should only be deployed in the most serious of situations, if necessary and as an alternative to lethal force”.

His comments came as the Association of Chief Police Officers issued its own guidance discouraging the use of Tasers at point-blank range. The Association believes the use of the weapon in “drive-stun” mode – when it is jabbed into someone – often serves only to antagonise the victim further.

But president of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales Irene Curtis said using Tasers could mean fewer officers and members of the public were hurt.

“It is not a surprise that the number of deployments has increased because the number of people with access to Tasers has increased in that time,” she said.

“We support the rollout of Tasers. We think it's a really useful tool that officers can use and can help reduce injuries to the public and to police officers.

“A Taser used appropriately can reduce the amount of time that officers need to have off because it reduces injuries. It reduces harm to the public because if there's a dangerous individual, they can be restrained more quickly.

“And sometimes the only other option is firearms. A Taser isn't a gun. A Taser can in some circumstances cause less harm than striking someone with a baton.”

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