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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Force to extend use of Taser guns
Taser gun
London police used the guns in 47 incidents so far this year
Seventy Taser stun guns will be given to previously unarmed police officers in London as their use is extended.

Metropolitan police currently use 280 Taser guns, which incapacitate targets with a 50,000-volt charge.

A further 70 will be used by its territorial support group this autumn, the Metropolitan Police Authority says.

The force used the guns in 47 incidents between January and August. Ten forces across England and Wales are taking part in trials extending their use.

The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) report shows a small increase in the use of Taser guns, which were used in 45 incidents between January and August 2006.

'Less lethal option'

This year they were used when officers were confronted by suspected armed robbers, wanted murderers and other violent people.

Met firearms officers will now also able to use Taser guns in a broader range of situations, particularly when they are threatened, the report states.

MPA commander Jo Kaye said: "The police use of firearms within communities has the potential to be highly disruptive and damaging to community relationships.

"However, the use of Tasers as a less lethal option has greatly assisted with the safe resolution of a substantial number of dangerous incidents without the need to resort to conventional firearms."

Temporarily disabled

When Tasers are fired, two metal barbs connected to the weapon by a thin wire pierce the skin before the charge is delivered.

Amnesty International said the weapons, which temporarily disable a suspect, have been linked to more than 70 deaths in America.

The youngest person targeted by police using Taser guns was 16, while the oldest was 43, the report to the MPA's Co-ordination and Policing Committee stated.

Other forces involved in trials extending Taser use are Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Gwent, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, North Wales and West Yorkshire.


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