Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 16:45 UK

Police taser gun use is revealed

Taser gun
More non-specialist police officers have been trained to use Tasers

Taser stun guns were used on nearly 300 members of the public by police last year, Home Office figures confirm.

Police officers also drew or aimed the weapons an additional 850 times between July 2007 and the end of May this year.

The guns were used 159 times and fired 26 times in England and Wales between February and May this year.

Ten police forces are taking part in a year-long pilot project allowing specially-trained non-firearms officers to use Tasers.

'Real difference'

In July last year, the rules were changed to allow police to use the weapons in less serious incidents.

Previously they could only be used when officers could have considered using a conventional firearm.

Overall, they have been used 411 times and fired 57 times since the trial began last September.

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said: "Tasers have contributed to resolving incidents without injury where otherwise there would have been a real possibility of someone being seriously injured or killed.

'Need to monitor'

"In a significant proportion of cases they have not needed to be fired, drawing or aiming the Taser has been enough of a deterrent."

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said: "While the deployment of Tasers is and should be an operational matter for the police, these figures highlight the increasingly violent situations our police are facing every day.

"It also reinforces the need to properly monitor the use of this relatively new technology as it is more widely used."

Amnesty International arms programme director Oliver Sprague said the police had a duty to protect themselves and the community "but arming more officers with dangerous weapons without the rigorous training and necessary safeguards could well be a recipe for disaster.

"Any officer carrying this weapon must be trained to the same high standard as they are for using a firearm, receiving intensive, ongoing training to ensure that they only use these dangerous weapons in the right situations."


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