Police call for Taser stun guns linked to 50 deaths in US
STRATHCLYDE police are demanding every officer in Scotland has access to controversial stun guns.
The constabulary’s representative body, Strathclyde Police Federation (SPF), has said that it wants all patrol cars to be issued with Taser guns - devices which can be used to incapacitate an individual by sending a 50,000-volt charge through their body.
The call follows the decision by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to issue the guns to authorised firearms officers in England and Wales.
Joe Grant, the Strathclyde federation secretary, described the move as a "major step forward" but insisted the guns must be available to all officers.
He said: "There are many forces around Scotland who do not have armed response teams and have to rely on Glasgow’s, and so waiting between 15 minutes and upwards - in the case of Campbelton, three and a half hours - before an armed response team arrives is not acceptable."
He dismissed concerns over the potentially lethal effects of the Taser. In the United States, 50 deaths have been linked to the weapon, though the manufacturer Taser International has claimed that drink or drugs were the primary cause of death.
"It has been suggested that there have been deaths, but we are looking at further development that acts in a different way. I also understand that there were contributory circumstances to these deaths.
"The fact is that I have seen the Taser in action and it is capable of stopping somebody instantly. The alternatives that are less lethal, such as batons and CS sprays, both of which can injure as well, risk the safety of officers and other members of the public, and it is not in our interest to do that."
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) is currently studying the results of the pilot study carried out in five forces across England and Wales, which resulted in the decision to arm police with them.
But John Watson, Amnesty International programme director Scotland, said that the organisation would oppose the move. "We would be concerned about this, because they have been shown to kill and have to be treated as potentially lethal weapons."
SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill, also said that he had doubts about pushing ahead with any plan for the blanket issuing of Tasers.
"The safety of Scotland's police officers must be paramount. However, I am not fully convinced that Taser guns are the best way forward due to the questions which are still being raised about the risks associated with their use."
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