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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July, 2005, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Blears wary of Tasers for police
Officer with Taser gun
Many police think all frontline officers should have Tasers
The controversial Taser stun gun is a dangerous weapon which should not yet be issued to all frontline police, Home Office minister Hazel Blears has said.

The weapons were not appropriate for "everyday circumstances", she told Police Review.

Only authorised firearms officers are currently allowed to use Tasers, which deliver a 50,000-volt electric shock.

The Police Federation said about 80% of its members were in favour of rolling out their use among frontline officers.

Officers face dangers on a daily basis that require more than a pair of handcuffs and a truncheon
Alan Gordon

This was because officers often required more than just "handcuffs and a truncheon", it said.

Ms Blears said: "Taser is quite a dangerous weapon. It is a less lethal option other than firearms, but it is not an everyday weapon used in everyday circumstances.

"My feeling at the moment is that it is substantially different from handcuffs and a truncheon, and I would not want to see everyone on the streets having that kind of weapon."

She said the specialised firearms teams equipped with Tasers were "trained in split second judgements".

Professionals

But providing all officers with "an array of weapons" would not help believe close relationships between police and the public.

Her stance was criticised by Police Federation vice chairman Alan Gordon, who said he "took exception" to the idea that Tasers would not be safe in the hands of professionally trained officers.

He said: "Officers face dangers on a daily basis that require more than a pair of handcuffs and a truncheon.

"To that extent we have long argued that Tasers should be extended beyond firearms officers."

However, a Home Office spokeswoman said the policy of not generally arming police officers gave "a character to our policing that we should not readily give up".

She said: "Safe as it is, there is no doubt Taser is an aggressive response and the government believes it should only be used in strictly controlled conditions."


SEE ALSO:
Taser controversy refuses to die
30 Jun 05 |  Americas
Controls urged on 'lethal' Tasers
30 Nov 04 |  UK Politics


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