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Last Updated: Monday, 28 February, 2005, 09:32 GMT
Firearms officers to use Tasers
Firearms officers with West Midlands Police are to be issued with Taser weapons to tackle violent offenders.

From 1 March, all 130 firearms officers will be issued with the Taser M26, along with their existing Heckler and Koch carbines and pistols.

The Taser can deliver a 50,000-volt shock to subdue dangerous suspects who are believed to be armed.

It is being hailed as a less lethal alternative to weapons currently used by firearms units across the country.

'Firearms threat'

Inspector Andrew Crowson, from Force's Firearms Operations Unit, said: "We are constantly seeking less lethal options to resolve dangerous situations as safely as possible.

"The Taser provides officers with another tool which may be more appropriate than a conventional firearm in certain circumstances.

"However, it is important to stress that Taser is not a replacement for firearms and where officers face a threat from firearms they will meet that threat with firearms."

The Taser is a single shot device designed to incapacitate the subject through the use of an electrical current, rather than lethally injure.

The issue of the Tasers follows a detailed evaluation of a 12-month operational trial of the weapon, carried out by five police forces.

During the trial, which ended in April 2004, the Taser was deployed alongside conventional firearms in a total of 60 situations where people were either armed or thought to pose such a threat that the use of a firearm by a police officer may have been necessary.

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