Police deploy Taser guns over 300 times
Home Office data shows that Northumbria Police drew the electronic stun guns 343 times in the year to March 2020 – the latest available figures – but of only discharged the weapons 51 times.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has raised concerns around the unnecessary or unsafe use of the devices and made 17 recommendations calling for improvements to the guidance, training, scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use.
Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for less lethal weapons, said that Tasers were critical in protecting both officers and the public in violent situations.
She acknowledged improvements could be made but said officers were already well scrutinised when it came to using reasonable force, adding: "Policing is not easy and in many violent situations I believe a Taser is a viable option for officers between using a baton and the lethal force of a gun.
"Officers are well trained to use the reasonable force given to them in law to confront the violence or threat of violence as they protect the public and themselves."
A Home Office spokesman said: “Our police officers must be equipped with the resources, tools and powers they need to keep themselves and the public safe – including Tasers.
“They pass one of the most comprehensive training programmes in the world before being authorised to use one and, in 86% of cases where a Taser is drawn, it is not discharged, demonstrating its impact as a powerful deterrent.”