Call to get tough on 'deadly' stun guns
USE of stun guns by British police must remain tightly controlled after a report showed dozens have been killed by the weapons in North America, a human rights group said today.
Amnesty International published a study which claimed 74 people have died after police in the United States and Canada shot them with the Taser gun.
The organisation also called for a "rigorous, independent and impartial" study into the weapons, which disable suspects with a 50,000-volt electric shock from a needle-tipped dart.
In September, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced Tasers were to be authorised for police firearms officers across England and Wales following a successful trial.
Amnesty said Tasers had been used in the US against unruly schoolchildren as young as nine; pregnant women, one of whom lost her baby shortly afterwards; unarmed, mentally ill people; and those who simply ignored a police officer’s instructions.
Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen said: "In some cases, simply walking away from a police officer has led to people getting a 50,000-volt shock.
"Is this a glimpse into the future of UK policing?
"With over 70 deaths following Taser use in the US, surely we must have a full inquiry into their effects before the government even considers any wider deployment on Britain’s streets.
"We want an assurance from the Home Office and police chiefs that Tasers will only be issued to trained firearms officers.
"Tasers could kill, so they must be treated as lethal weapons."
Mr Blunkett has said research had shown the Taser guns had a "very low" risk of fatality.
A review of the dangers was conducted by a Defence Scientific Advisory Council sub committee.
were trialled after growing pressure for a less lethal weapon in a bid to reduce the number of people shot dead by armed police.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has said the weapon had been shown to have a significant deterrent effect.
During the 12-month trial it was aimed in 40 of incidents, but fired only 13 times.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west