More police to be armed with stun guns

EVERY frontline police officer in Suffolk could soon be on patrol armed with a controversial Taser stun gun, it has emerged.

Josh Warwick

EVERY frontline police officer in Suffolk could soon be on patrol armed with a controversial Taser stun gun, it has emerged.

Under new plans, a stockpile of the weapons, which fire a 50,000-volt charge, would be kept at each police station so that patrolling officers could use them if required.

The stun guns are expected to be made available to Suffolk police and other forces in England and Wales by the end of the year, under plans to be announced by ministers later this year.


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They are used to confront and disable suspects who threaten violence, whether suspected suicide bombers or aggressive drunken yobs.

Since they were made available to police in Suffolk in early 2005, Tasers have been fired on only 12 occasions.

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From July last year, Tasers became part of Suffolk police's armed response unit, and between then and March this year, 65 “Taser authorities” were issued - where permission is given for the weapon to be drawn or fired.

Nationally, Tasers have been drawn 2,700 times but fired only 834 times.

Police said in most cases, drawing the gun and aiming its red target dot on a suspect's body acted as a sufficient deterrent.

The Taser is a hand-held electrical device resembling a pistol and is designed to incapacitate temporarily rather than injure.

The latest version - the X26 - has a range of 21ft. It fires a pair of barbs on copper wires that embed themselves in the flesh and send out an electrical current.

The shock can cause temporary loss of muscle control, making a person fall to the ground or freeze on the spot.

Police officers believe it is a valuable alternative to hitting people with a baton or the extreme measure of shooting them. In many cases, it enables just one or two officers to restrain and handcuff a suspect without the risk of injury.

The move has met opposition from civil liberties groups, which say they should be used by only specialist firearms officers in limited circumstances.

A spokesman for Amnesty International said: “The weapon must be restricted to a small number of specially trained officers who should undergo the same rigorous training as firearms officers.”

Should every frontline officer be equipped with a Taser? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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