Raymond Brown |
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has called for stricter controls on Tasers after Cambridgeshire police shot 34 suspects in the chest with the 50,000-volt guns.
Figures obtained by the News using a freedom of information request reveal the extent of stun gun use as the constabulary plans to roll out more of the weapons.
The force defended their use after it was revealed that since January 2009 there had been 34 occasions where one or both barbs of the guns made contact with a supect’s chest area.
The Taser trigger has been pulled 54 times in the same period and there are fears that number could increase as weapons are rolled out to non-firearms officers in the force.
Mr Huppert said: “I am very concerned routine arming of officers with Tasers is becoming more common. These weapons discharge a high voltage. I am very concerned by these figures showing how many times they have been discharged in the chest.
“This clearly has the potential to be harmful and is not a risk we should be prepared to take. I would like to see much stricter controls on their use.”
The constabulary has trained 165 officers to use the weapon in the last three years and is training up to 120 more to use the Tasers.
The weapons, of which the force holds 153, temporarily incapacitate a person using an electrical current which interferes with the neuromuscular system. Firearms officers are given 18 hours initial training with annual qualification tests.
Chief Inspector Nick Church, the force’s lead officer on Tasers, said: “Officers issued with Tasers are trained to a national standard using nationally prepared guidance.
“Taser is one of a number of tactical options officers can use when there is a threat to a member of public or an officer. It should be discharged on the front or back of the person and, if possible, on the back. However, depending on the situation this is not always possible.
“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that Tasers should not be discharged in the chest.”
Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire’s newly elected police and crime commissioner who has the power to hire and fire the chief constable, as well as holding the purse strings for policing, said: “Tasers are an operational matter and I cannot interfere in operational matters.
“I can talk to the chief constable about it but he feels they are useful then it is a decision for him.”