England

Durham Police to offer all frontline officers Tasers

Taser Image copyright Durham Police
Image caption Upgraded Tasers are more powerful and can be fired twice

Every frontline Durham Police officer is to be offered the use of a Taser.

Newly appointed chief constable Jo Farrell said it would help protect officers who were "too often" assaulted while at work.

She said the force's 1,500 officers would be offered an updated model of the weapon over the next 12 months.

The Durham Police Federation said it supported the move but human rights group Amnesty UK has expressed "serious concerns" about Tasers.

Ms Farrell, who replaced former chief constable Mike Barton in June, said: "Too often our officers are subject to assaults in the line of duty.

"We need to make sure that our officers have the tools they need to protect the public and protect themselves".

'Extremely effective'

Tasers, which incapacitate people with an electrical charge of up to 50,000 volts, were first introduced in Durham in 2005 to firearms officers.

Most Tasers used in the UK can only be fired once before needing to recharged, but new models can fire a second cartridge.

Andy Jackson, chairman of Durham Police Federation, said: "I strongly support the wider roll-out of Taser to all frontline officers.

"Taser is an extremely effective means of dealing with the many dangerous situations that officers often face on the streets and is a less lethal option than more conventional firearms."

Amnesty UK, which claims Tasers have been linked to deaths, said: "Police have a duty to protect the public and themselves from harm, but we've got serious concerns about the use of Tasers becoming the norm for day-to-day policing.

"The British public should resist the drum-beat of calls for every police officer to carry a Taser.

"More Tasers would inevitably mean more mistakes, more misuse and more tragedy."

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