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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Police complete stun gun trials
Stun gun
The gun is used as a less lethal alternative to conventional weapons
Police chiefs in England and Wales are considering whether to extend trials of high-voltage stun guns.

A 12-month pilot scheme in five police forces ended this weekend but a final decision has not been made on whether the guns will be used nationwide.

The Metropolitan Police Federation has strongly backed the use of "tasers".

But Amnesty International argues the guns, which are being used by forces including Lincolnshire Police, have not been properly tested.

'Less lethal'

The lobby group says several people in the US and Canada have died after being shot with the stun guns.

It has called for full medical trials to be carried out before the government allows the stun guns to be issued across the country.

Taser guns fire needle-tipped barbs up to eight metres to deliver a disabling, 50,000-volt shock.

They are considered a "less lethal" alternative to conventional firearms.

Apart from the Met, the other police forces taking part in the trials are Northamptonshire, Thames Valley, Lincolnshire and North Wales.

A report from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in December 2003 revealed some officers had expressed concerns about the stun gun's reliability.

'Significant deterrent'

In three cases more than one discharge was required to subdue a suspect and on two of these occasions "Taser firings did not appear to go right the first time", it added.

But the stun gun was thought to have significant "deterrent effects" and "a number of operational benefits for police".

In June 2003 North Wales Police used a taser gun against a dangerous dog which was running amok in Wrexham.

The gun failed to floor the dog - one of the barbs became detached, breaking the circuit - and the animal ran off.

'Stun gun' used on suspect
17 Dec 03  |  Northamptonshire
Police use stun gun
30 Nov 03  |  Lincolnshire
Police defend stun gun trial
24 Apr 03  |  Berkshire

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