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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Police to start stun gun trials
Stun gun
The stun gun trial will last for 12 months
Police are to start a trial of an electronic stun gun that will knock out suspects.

Over the next 12 months police from Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, the Metropolitan force, North Wales and Thames Valley will be carrying out operational trials backed by the Home Office.

The "Taser" which is already common in America, will be used alongside conventional weapons by firearms officers.

The Taser gun looks like a pistol but uses compressed air to fire two darts that trail electric cable back to the handset.

When the darts strike, a five-second 50,000-volt charge is released down the cable, causing the suspect's muscles to contract uncontrollably.

Temporary paralysis

The Taser causes temporary paralysis and research suggests there is little permanent risk to health.

A laser which helps target the suspect works at ranges up to 21 feet.

Should police decide to introduce the weapons, each Taser gun is likely to cost 200 and officers may only require a day's training to use them.

The Association of Chief Police Officers is launching the trial on 17 April at Northamptonshire Police headquarters.

The guns will be in use by officers from the five forces from 21 April.

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