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Police use of Tasers up by a third

The use of stun guns by police officers in England and Wales surged by nearly a third to more than 10,000 deployments last year.

Taser use rose from a combined 8,161 in 2012 to 10,380 in 2013, Home Office figures reveal.

However, the proportion of cases when the Taser was fully fired dropped between 2012 and 2013 from 21% to 17%.

The most common use of a Taser in each of the last two years was so-called "red dot" use, accounting for 51% of use, which is when the weapon is not fired but aimed and partially activated so a laser red dot is placed on the suspect.

National policing lead for Taser, Commander Neil Basu, said: " When police officers use force there is no such thing as a 100% risk-free option. All options carry some form of risk.

"Taser is a less lethal weapon. It poses significantly less risk than other tactical options used by the police such as a metal baton, police dog and CS spray.

"Officers are trained to use Taser to deal with violence or threats of violence and they are individually accountable in law for the amount of force they use.

"Taser has safely resolved situations where a person has been intent on serious self-harm. Officers are trained to consider the vulnerability of the person and factors such as age and stature form part of this assessment."

Police officers are selected for the role and subjected to comprehensive training before being handed a Taser and around 12% carry a Taser.

Training covers handling and using the device and circumstances under which it can be lawfully used.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission announced in December that it is to supervise an investigation into the Tasering by police of three teenagers with complex learning difficulties.

Devon and Cornwall Police deployed the Taser on the boys, all aged 14 or 15, after being called to Chelfham Senior School, near Plymouth, following reports of an alleged assault on a teacher.

Devon and Cornwall Police are also being investigated by the watchdog over an incident in which a man who doused himself in petrol burst into flames when he was shot with a Taser.

Sophie Khan, legal director of Police Action Centre: " The statistics show that there is an ongoing issue with the use of Tasers by police, especially as the statistics suggest that the Taser is being used as a compliance tool which is in direct contravention of the Taser Policy and Guidance.

"Now that up-to-date figures have been released the Home Office must take steps to address the concerns that have been repeatedly raised about Taser use to ensure we have policing by consent and not policing by compliance."


From Belfast Telegraph