City’s Taser toll

Police demonstrate the Taser
Police demonstrate the Taser
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TASERS have been used by the police in Sunderland almost 2,000 times in the last three years.

This equates to about 55 incidents a month, or almost two every day.

Overall, Northumbria Police are the second most prolific users of Tasers in the country – second only to the Metropolitan Police.

But the Met force is almost eight times larger.

The information regarding Sunderland was obtained by the Echo after placing a freedom of information request.

However, as part of the request, police refused to answer how many people who had the weapon used on them were subsequently charged with an offence.

Amnesty International’s arms programme director, Oliver Sprague, said “In order to fully assess whether the Tasers were used appropriately by police officers, we need to determine how these weapons were used, in what circumstances and why.

“However Tasers are essentially dangerous weapons and they are potentially lethal. As such, they should only be used in a very limited set of circumstances where there’s a real threat to life.

“These weapons should only be used by officers who are trained to the same exacting standards as firearms officers.”

In total Northumbria Police has 129 Tasers, and out of the 4,000 officers in the force, 286 are trained to use them.

Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: “Taser is only deployed when circumstances dictate, and by officers who have been carefully selected and trained in its use.

“It is a highly effective tactical option available and an important tool in maximising safety to the public and minimising the risk of injury to officers and offenders.

“Northumbria Police is the only metropolitan force to select officers from 24/7 response teams to become trained in the use of Taser, this means the availability is therefore proportionately much greater than elsewhere.

“These figures reflect the total use of Taser but only a small number involve Taser being discharged, in most cases the mere sight of Taser was enough to compel an offender to co-operate with police.

“Since Taser was introduced, Northumbria Police has seen a reduction in the number of deployments involving armed officers.”

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho