By Ian Dunt
A new form of Taser gun which inflicts longer and stronger stuns to the victim is being considered by the Home Office.
Police have gradually been accepting stun guns as the pilot project is gradually expanded.
But a new weapon, named the eXtended Range Electronic Projectile (XREP), delivers a 20-second long 500-volt chock, rather than the five-second burst from previous models.
The new weapon can also come wire-free on order to stop the victim pulling the projectile out.
"We're seriously concerned about this latest weapon by Taser," Amnesty International UK's arms programme director Oliver Sprague said.
"This is effectively a shotgun that fires electric-shock bullets.
"Because this bullet can be fired wire-free from a standard shotgun there is a heightened risk of causing serious injury to the face and head.
"We're also concerned by the fact that these weapons will deliver an excruciatingly painful shock for 20 seconds," he added.
"Amnesty would be very alarmed if the Home Office were to consider authorising this weapon to police officers in the UK."
A Home Office spokesperson said: "The XREP is an extended range electronic projectile marketed by Taser International.
"The Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) are considering it as part of their on-going remit to evaluate new less lethal technologies against the Acpo Operational Requirement."
Health and safety groups have long opposed the use of the weapons, but the Home Office stresses the non-lethal nature of the weapon as an alternative to guns.