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Monday, May 12, 2008

In the UK: Taser usage shoots upwards

May 12, 2008

Government figures have revealed a dramatic upsurge in the number of incidents involving a Taser. The controversial Taser guns stun individuals with an electric shock but are only permitted to be used by trained firearms officers facing an armed person.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith permitted the 12-month trial in ten police forces around the country, starting from September 1st 2007.

There were 14 incidents in which Tasers were used in the first three months of the trial, with 12 subjects hit by the guns. Today the Home Office revealed in the following three months, from December to February, the running tally had increased to 163 incidents on 185 subjects. Northumbria police officers were responsible for 122 incidents while the Metropolitan police used Tasers 90 times.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it would closely monitor the use of Tasers during the trial, having already received several complaints about their use. "The IPCC is keeping a close eye on the extension of Taser use and if people feel excessive force has been used they should make a complaint," commissioner Deborah Glass said.

"Early indications would… be that the increase in Taser use has not been accompanied by a rise in complaints, but if we see any themes or issues emerging as a result of complaints over a longer time period we will ensure these are properly addressed as part of the pilot."

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