Criminals in for a shock as police go for Tasers
HIGH-VOLTAGE Taser stun guns are to be used on criminals in Edinburgh from early next year.
Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins has ordered 30 of the controversial weapons, which leave victims temporarily paralysed from a high-voltage electric shock, and aims to have them in use by January.
But the move was criticised today by a human rights group and politicians who say the stun guns are dangerous and can kill. Specialist firearms officers will be trained to use the Tasers in December and will be expected to be ready to use them at the turn of the year. The move follows a pilot programme with police forces in England and Wales.
Lothian and Borders Police will become the third of Scotland's eight forces to be armed with the Tasers.
Strathclyde stocked its armoury in September, and officers in Tayside are currently being trained to use them. The remaining Scottish forces are expected to follow suit before the end of 2006.
Tasers were authorised for use by firearms officers in the UK in March and are distributed here by Protech Systems.
The weapons deliver a 50,000-volt electric current, which attacks the recipient's nervous system, disabling them for several minutes. Despite safety fears, police are touting Tasers as an "extra option" to guns for firearms officers in dangerous situations.
They say that Tasers would only be issued to specially-trained firearms officers and authorisation for their issue and use would be in accordance with guidance contained in a police manual.
But Councillor Shami Khan, a police board member, said he opposed the use of Tasers.
He said: "There have been people killed in the United States. They would be better spending money on getting more officers on to the streets, rather than equipping those that are with even more technology."
Michelle Lowe, of Amnesty International, called for more research to be done into the effects of being shocked by the weapons. She said: "Without adequate medical research they shouldn't be rolling them out in the UK.
"Our concern is that they would be used only by trained firearms officers initially, but then they might be used more widely.
"In the US they have killed people and 50,000 volts of electricity causes extreme pain and they are open to abuse."
Stewart Wilson, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said the use of Tasers would save lives.
He said: "Only special firearms teams will use them. Whereas previously a person could have been shot dead, now they will only be stunned."
Mr Wilson added that Tasers would not be used to deal with riots. The Police Board was briefed about the plans at a meeting on Friday.
Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, who sits on the board, said: "I was concerned but I'm reassured that there will be a strict protocol for their use."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east