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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Taser guns on Strathclyde streets
A Strathclyde officer holds out a Taser, ready to fire
Scotland's largest police force has become the first in the country to introduce the Taser stun gun.

Strathclyde Police began issuing the weapon, which delivers a 50,000-volt electric shock, to specially-trained firearms officers from Monday.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Learmonth said the decision to introduce Tasers followed trials in England.

The guns use nitrogen cartridges to fire two barbs which trail copper cable back to the weapon.

'Less lethal' option

The barb delivers a five-second 50,000-volt charge that effectively disables and temporarily incapacitates suspects, to enable officers to make a safe arrest.

The majority of police forces throughout the UK are in the process of deploying Tasers as a less lethal option, where the use of firearms has been authorised.

Scotland's seven other police forces have still to set dates for the weapon to be deployed to their officers. Mr Learmonth said "careful consideration" was given to introducing the Taser after it was trialled in England two years ago.

ACC Ian Learmonth
Taser will provide another less lethal option which may assist in the safe resolution of firearms incidents
ACC Ian Learmonth
Strathclyde Police

"The trials were independently evaluated and the report on the operational trials concluded that the use of Taser helped secure a positive outcome to an incident, minimising the potential need for officers to deploy other, possibly more lethal technologies," he added.

"Whilst Taser will always be deployed alongside conventional firearms and should not be seen as a replacement for such weapons, Taser will provide another less lethal option which may assist in the safe resolution of firearms incidents without recourse to more lethal force."

Mr Learmouth said police had discussed the use of Taser guns with medical experts to ensure that "immediate and effective support" was provided to anyone shot by an officer using a stun gun.

Michelle Lowe, of Amnesty International, said: "In America and Canada, 130 people have died after being 'Tasered' so what we are calling for is extreme caution in their use and an independent rigorous inquiry into the medical impact of the use of Tasers."

Watch Alan Mackay's report

Controls urged on 'lethal' Tasers
30 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Police chief backs stun gun use
26 Jul 04 |  Scotland
How the stun gun works
01 Aug 01 |  UK News

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