In the Media

Three shot by Tasers every day

PUBLISHED September 24, 2012

The weapons were used by officers across England and Wales almost 4,500 last year, an increase of almost 40 per cent on 2010.

West Mercia Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, who has national responsibility for Taser use, said the controversial devices kept the public safe and protected officers.

"In more than half of cases, the mere threat of its use has been enough to deter violent individuals and ensure a peaceful resolution of the incident," he told a newspaper.

Debate over whether or not use of Tasers should be extended was reignited last week when two police officers were killed in Manchester.

Although PCs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were unarmed, a Taser was found close to their bodies, suggesting that one of the women had attempted to use the weapon in self defence.

There are currently around 12,000 Tasers on the streets of Britain, mostly used by trained officers.

The weapons, which deliver a high-voltage electric shock to incapacitate targets, have proved controversial because of evidence they can kill, despite being billed as non-lethal.

They were deployed at least 4,461 times last year compared with 3,219 times in 2010, an increase of almost 40 per cent.

They were fired at least 1,081 times, an average of almost three occasions every day, requests made to every force across England and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act disclosed.

By comparison, Tasers were used 744 times in 2010.

Greater Manchester Police revealed that it had fired Tasers 195 times last year, and the Met, 101 times. In smaller and rural forces, including Cheshire, Dyfed-Powys and Sussex, the number of discharges remained in single figures.

Patrick Geenty, the chief constable of Wiltshire police, said that he planned to issue more officers with Taser stun guns to stop them feeling "vulnerable". He said the weapons were an "obvious" alternative to arming more officers with conventional firearms.

"Training more officers to use Tasers would do more to protect them," he said. "I'm looking to see whether we can increase that."

But Amnesty International insists that their use should be restricted to a number of highly-trained officers.

"Tasers can be a better option than guns but both in the UK and the US people have died after being shocked with them," a spokesman said.

"Amnesty International doesn't want to see the UK hurtling even further down the slippery slope towards arming all officers with Tasers, or worse towards a situation like that in the US where they have been widely misused."

Last year, body builder Dale Burns, 27, died after being shot three times by Tasers at his home in Cumbria.