Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 15:14 UK

Policing Board backs Taser guns

Taser gun

The Policing Board has formally endorsed the chief constable's decision to deploy Taser stun guns.

Twelve guns were given to specialist police teams in a pilot scheme in January. Since then the weapon has been used once, in Londonderry in August.

The chief constable will decide if the weapon should be used on a permanent basis after an equality impact assessment is completed.

A legal challenge on the deployment of the guns will take place in January.

Sinn Féin wanted the decision deferred until the judicial review was heard.

"I don't think there's confidence out there, particularly in the nationalist/republican community, to see this weapon deployed," said party board member Martina Anderson.

"Amnesty International have told us that this weapon kills."

The DUP's Peter Weir said it was a "logical move".

"Would the opponents of Tasers rather that police officers were forced to use handguns in every situation where a Taser should be used?

"Or perhaps they would like to make it impossible for the police to use necessary and proportionate force in order to defend innocent members of the public?"

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said the device gave his officers an alternative to guns.

"In likelihood, we will see people kept alive using this device and less injured than if a firearm had been used."

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