24/11/2008

Minister Unveils Police Taser Plans

Police officers across England and Wales could soon be armed with Taser stun guns, under new plans.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that front-line staff in all 43 forces will be trained to use the weapons, which are currently only used by small units of firearms officers.

The stun guns - which can fire a charge of 50,000 volts - can temporarily disable a suspect.

The Home Secretary said: "I am proud that we have one of the few police services around the world that do not regularly carry firearms and I want to keep it that way.

"But every day the police put themselves in danger to protect us, the public."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have welcomed the move, saying trials showed in the majority of cases Tasers helped police resolve incidents, without having to use other weapons.

Derek Talbot, ACPO spokesman on Tasers, and assistant chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, said: "This reinforces the value of Taser as a useful tool to make the public and officers safer and to resolve potentially violent solutions effectively and rapidly."
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He added: "The conclusions of this trial provide further evidence that Taser is a proportionate, low risk means of resolving incidents where the public or officers face severe violence or the threat of such violence which cannot safely be dealt with by other means."

The Home Office today unveiled plans to spend £8 million on 10,000 new Tasers for forces in England and Wales.

The announcement follows reports from the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office Scientific Development Branch which found that Tasers improved both public and police officer safety in incidents involving serious violence.

Statistics from the trial show of the 661 recorded uses of Tasers, over 75% involved the weapon just being drawn or the subject being 'red-dotted' - showing Tasers powerful deterrent effect and its benefits in preventing any escalation in violence. Tasers were only discharged in 93 of the 661 uses.

The extension means that officers in specially trained units will be able to use Tasers in situations where they face serious violence or threats of serious violence to the public, themselves or the subject. This is set out in ACPO guidance on its use.

(JM)

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