Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Strathclyde Police to trial Tasers among beat officers

The pilot project will train 30 beat officers to user Taser guns

Strathclyde Police is to become the first force in Scotland to issue Taser stun guns to beat officers.

The pilot project will run from March to September and involve 30 officers in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott said it was a "slippery slope" to Tasers being widely rolled out.

Details of the scheme were outlined at a full meeting of Strathclyde Police Authority. Officers will follow strict guidelines over Taser use.

Taser guns can deliver a 50,000 volt electrical charge and are designed to incapacitate rather than cause serious injury.

This is the slippery slope to every officer in Strathclyde carrying a Taser gun
Tavish Scott
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader

Strathclyde Police introduced the guns in 2005 for use by authorised firearms officers, but the pilot would see other officers issued with the weapons for "operational duties" after a three-day training course.

Mr Scott demanded to know what involvement the Scottish government had with the scheme, and asked whether parliament would have a say.

"When Tasers were put on trial in England, within the first year, they'd been used 600 times - 34 children were zapped with 50,000 volts," he said during question time at Holyrood.

"This is the slippery slope to every officer in Strathclyde carrying a Taser gun."

But First Minister Alex Salmond said it was a police operational matter, adding: "I think it would be appropriate if we allow the Chief Constable of Strathclyde to have his pilot studies to analyse the results.

"Then we can come to an informed decision - as opposed to Tavish Scott's, I think, unwise speculation about what he thinks the results might be."

Police assaults

The £45,559 pilot project will focus on beat officers in Glasgow city centre, Rutherglen and Cambuslang areas - which have seen a higher number of police assaults.

Strathclyde Ch Supt Bob Hamilton, said: "The three-day Taser training is the exact same training as the firearms officers get in relation to Tasers.

"We don't want to dilute the training, it's a very important matter."

Human rights organisation Amnesty International Scotland said it it did not oppose Tasers, but claimed the training course was insufficient.

Amnesty's John Watson, said: "We're talking about Tasers being given to ordinary officers, dealing with whatever situation arises in their day, and getting three days of training for that.

"The idea of these devices becoming an everyday presence on Scottish streets is something we're very concerned about."

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