Police to get 'stun guns'

VIOLENT offenders in Weston may get zapped by potentially lethal stun guns if they threaten to harm themselves, police officers or members of the public. Avon and Somerset Constabulary is one of 10 police forces across the country taking part in a Home Office trial of Taser weapons lasting a year.

VIOLENT offenders in Weston may get zapped by potentially lethal 'stun guns' if they threaten to harm themselves, police officers or members of the public.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary is one of 10 police forces across the country taking part in a Home Office trial of Taser weapons lasting a year.

A Taser is a hand-held device which discharges an electrical current to temporarily incapacitate a person, causing them to fall to the ground or 'freeze' on the spot.

No fewer than 30 non-firearms officers will be taking part in the trial.


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The officers have received the same training as firearms officers when they were introduced into the force in 2005.

Last year a Taser was drawn but not discharged against an armed man threatening a family in Weston. A woman's former partner had gone into the family's home and was threatening her and her children with a large kitchen knife. Officers attending the scene drew the Taser and warned the man of its capabilities. He immediately dropped the knife and was arrested.

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Avon and Somerset's superintendent Alan Coombs said: "The officers we have selected are already trained to an advanced level in conflict management, and, as with any firearms incident, still have to get authorisation from a senior officer to draw their Taser.

"There have been several cases over the past two years where the threat of using a Taser has been enough to bring violent offenders around."

However, the move has been criticised by leading human rights group Amnesty International.

A statement said: "Stun guns are potentially lethal electrical weapons. The pistol-shaped weapon delivers 50,000 volts of electricity into a person's body. "The result is excruciatingly painful, causing a person to fall to the ground, and, at times, lose control of their bodily functions.

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