Current affairs: Taser use doubles

By staff

Taser use in England and Wales has nearly quadrupled over just three years, Home Office figures have revealed.

The statistics saw a jump from total use in the first six months of 2009 of 1,267 to 4,041 in the second half of 2011.

Uptake in the police's use of tasers, which incapacitate suspects with an electrical current, doubled from 2009 to 2010 before creeping up by a further fifth in 2011.

Government officials said the increase was a reflection of the pistol-like device's rollout "following the successful trial of specially trained units".

Three-quarters of the uses did not actually result in the suspect experiencing the electrical charge.

Half of the cases in which the weapon was deployed were classified as 'red dot', in which the taser is partially activated so the 'subject' sees a red dot placed on their body.

The overall balance of the different kinds of taser use did not change between 2010 and 2011, suggesting the way they are being used is not shifting.

Tasers were fired in 20% and 21% of the total cases respectively.

"Taser is a valuable tactical option for the police when they are faced with such severe violence or threats of violence that force is needed to protect the public, themselves or the individual concerned," a spokesperson said.
"The Home Office and the police have rigorously tested Taser, including independent medical assessment.

"We are committed to providing the police with the necessary tools to do their job safely."