West Yorkshire Police's use of stun guns halves in three years

West Yorkshire Police say they are still useful in fight against crime

Taser
Stun gun

Police activity involving stun gun Tasers in West Yorkshire has fallen by nearly half in three years.

And our region is bucking the national trend where there is still a slight rise in deployment of the devices – which release 50,000-volt electric guns to temporarily disable a suspect.

In West Yorkshire, Home Office figures record activity involving Tasers has dropped by 47.5% since it peaked in 2011 with 572 recorded incidents.

In 2012 the figure dropped to 341 and again last year to just 300 recorded incidents.

The term ‘activity’ is when officers notify a suspect of production of the Taser at an incident but not necessarily that they fire it.

The figures show in many instances that after warnings are given about the imminent use of a Taser suspect surrender and it is no longer needed to fire the device.

Tasers were actually fired 101 times in 2011, 66 in 2012 and 67 in 2013.

Nationally, firing of Tasers rose from 1,620 in 2012 to 1,733 last year marking a 7% rise.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: “Taser is an important tool that has allowed us to deal with incidents more safely and effectively, sometimes in very volatile situations.

“It often allows us to resolve an escalating situation at an early stage, avoiding injury to members of the public, officers themselves, and also to those who may be involved in an incident. Its benefits have been proven on numerous occasions throughout the force and we continue to utilise it as a vital tool in protecting the people of West Yorkshire.”

But a number of controversial cases have sparked Human rights group Amnesty International to campaign over the use of Tasers following research which linked the weapon’s use to a number of deaths.

Assistant Chief Constable Milsom added: “We do however take our responsibility extremely seriously with senior officers reviewing the circumstances following every use of Taser to identify any issues or lessons to be learned.

“Having been one of 10 forces to trial the use of Taser by non firearms officers in 2007 we have developed our practices and procedures to a high standard to ensure that it is used only when proportionate and necessary.”

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