England

Taser used on 16-year-old in Kent

Taser gun
Image caption A Taser was drawn when a 14-year-old threatened Kent Police with a knife in 2012

A 16-year-old has been Tasered by Kent Police, the BBC has learned.

The teenager was threatening police officers with weapons when the 55,000-volt device was used.

It was one of three incidents where Tasers were used against people aged under 20 in Kent between 2010 and 2012.

The weapons were drawn more than 70 times against teenagers over the last three years in Kent and Surrey, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Anne Barnes, Kent police and crime commissioner, said: "The use of Tasers in Kent is very, very low."

She said the weapon was "only one piece of armoury in the police toolbox".

"They are non-lethal. They are just a way of frightening people," she said.

"There is a difference between deploying Tasers and actually using them."

In Surrey, a 17-year-old was Tasered after he assaulted his father in 2010.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: "In those incidents where a Taser has been discharged, these are primarily where subjects are threatening use of a knife or other weapons, or cases where someone is causing physical harm to other members of the public, to police officers, or to themselves.

"All officers who carry a Taser are specially trained and undergo suitability tests."

'Comprehensive training'

Figures from Sussex Police showed that of the eight people who had Tasers used on them between 2010 and 2012, three were mentally ill.

Katy Bourne, the police and crime commissioner for Sussex, said: "I am very supportive of the use of Taser in instances where there is a real threat of violence.

"Sussex Police officers who are authorised to carry Taser undertake comprehensive training, which combines theory, practical exercises and examines their decision-making processes in pressured situations."

In February, Sussex Police announced that 160 extra officers would be armed with the weapons.

Ch Supt Paul Morrison said experience had shown the presence of the 55,000-volt devices acted as a deterrent "to the escalation of violence".

"Nearly 70% of incidents where there is a possibility of using Taser end without it being discharged," he said.

"Studies have also shown that the presence of Taser reduces the levels of force required by officers in violent situations avoiding, for example, the use of a baton or captor."

The Sunday Politics Show will have more on this story on Sunday on BBC1 in the South East.

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