Tasers to spread out across country

A pilot project to give specialist police officers Taser guns will be spread out across the country will be announced by the Home Office later.

The move will give thousands of officers access to the weapon across England and Wales.

The Home Office is expected to announce the plans later on Monday, with 10,000 more weapons being bought and given to all front-line officers.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith told the Sunday Times at the weekend that £8 million will be made available to equip up to 30,000 police officers with the stun guns.

“I am proud that we have one of the few police services around the world that do not regularly carry firearms and I want to keep it that way,” Ms Smith said.

“But every day the police put themselves in danger to protect us, the public. They deserve our support, so I want to give the police the tools they tell me they need to confront dangerous people.

“That is why I am giving the police 10,000 Tasers to ensure that officers across the country benefit from this form of defence.”

The move has been backed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

Derek Talbot, Acpo spokesman on Tasers and assistant chief constable of Northamptonshire police, said the government’s decision reinforced the value of Tasers as a “useful tool to make the public and officers safer and to resolve potentially violent situations effectively and rapidly”.

But Amnesty International said the plan was ill-concieved.

Arms programme director Oliver Sprague said: “Tasers are potentially lethal weapons which are already linked to numerous deaths in north America and that’s why wide deployment without adequate training is a dangerous step too far for British policing.

“We believe the home secretary should urgently review this decision and ensure that Tasers only end up in the hands of a small number of fully-trained officers capable of making the potentially-fatal decision over whether to fire 50,000 volts into a person’s body.”