Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 14:10 UK

More police to get Taser training

Taser
The weapon is credited for reducing injury to officers and the public

A further 140 officers in the Avon and Somerset police force are to be trained to use the incapacitating Taser electric shock weapon.

The first of the new wave of officers will be in Somerset, where 60 will be trained followed by 50 traffic officers and 30 from the support group.

It follows the force's year-long trial of the 50,000 volt stun guns which saw non-firearms officers being trained.

At present there are 130 firearms and 30 support officers using the weapons.

They are potentially lethal weapons and should only be used by qualified firearms officers who have a high standard of regular training
Amnesty International

The training will bring the total number of Taser-trained officers to 300 across Avon and Somerset, though they will have to share 200 of the stun guns between them.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said the weapon had been credited as one of the contributory factors to the falling number of officers being assaulted or injured on duty - though Amnesty International has called the weapons "potentially lethal".

A spokesman for the group said it did not believe the weapon should be made more widely available.

"Tasers should only be used where the situation presents an immediate threat to life or serious injury," he said.

"They are potentially lethal weapons and should only be used by qualified firearms officers who have a high standard of regular training."

Only a few forces have so far agreed to extend the use of Tasers to non-firearm officers, with the Metropolitan Police and Sussex Police deciding against it.

In June, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and South Yorkshire Police said they were still deciding on whether to extend the use of the guns.

Cleveland Police said they would not introduce any new Taser weapons this year.

A Taser works by firing two barbs which penetrate the skin and discharge 50,000 volts along two copper wires attached to the gun.

It can also be held against a person and fired to temporarily incapacitate.



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