Northumbria Police Taser use causes shock

August 17, 2009 3:08 PM

Newcastle East Lib Dem spokesman Greg Stone has reacted with concern to the publication of Government figures showing that Northumbria Police has been the most prolific user of Taser stun-guns since they were introduced in 2004 - exceeding the usage by the Metropolitan Police and double the rate of the West Yorkshire force.

Home Office figures released today show that Northumbria's use of the weapons to incapacitate potentially violent suspects is running at an average of 49 per month - more than one a day. In the first quarter of this year Northumbria used Tasers on 147 occasions, compared to 71 occasions by the Metropolitan police which covers a population five times greater.

Greg Stone said "Clearly the use of non-lethal force is sometimes necessary when police are called on to apprehend potentially violent suspects, and obviously use of equipment such as Tasers is preferable to use of firearms in such circumstances. However I am alarmed to note that Northumbria has such a high rate of Taser use, which outstrips larger police forces which may be considered to have higher rates of violent crime".

"In my view Tasers should be used only by specially trained officers in clearly defined contexts and should not be on general issue. In the circumstances I feel it is appropriate to ask why Northumbria's use is so high and to seek assurances from that suitable guidelines are being followed in their use."