Scotland

Scottish transport police use Taser for first time

Taser Image copyright BTP

Officers who police Scotland's railways used a Taser just weeks after first being armed with the stun weapons, BBC Scotland has learned.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the incident happened at Edinburgh Waverley station in October.

British Transport Police officers trained a red dot target on a 34-year-old man, but the Taser was not fired.

It is the only time a Taser has been used since some BTP officers started carrying them in September.

At the time, senior officers within the force refused to reveal exactly how many would be trained in their use "for security reasons".

'Protect the public'

However, in response to BBC Scotland's FOI request, they said 43 BTP officers in Scotland now carry Tasers.

They make up almost a quarter of the 151-strong force north of the border.

The move to arm transport police in Scotland with Tasers brought officers into line with their counterparts in England and Wales, where Tasers have been deployed since 2011.

Ch Supt John McBride, the BTP's divisional commander for Scotland, said the force was "delighted" that the weapons had only been used once.

He added: "The decision to equip our officers with Tasers was taken to ensure they are in the best position to be able to protect themselves and to protect the public when faced with extreme violence and followed careful analysis of the environment we police and the type of threat most likely to emerge.

"It provides a consistent approach to protecting rail users across Scotland, England and Wales."

Constant review

Officers south of the border used Tasers 68 times in 2014 and on 108 occasions last year, according a separate FOI application to the force.

They were fired eight times in 2015, the data revealed.

The weapons are used to incapacitate suspects through the use of an electric current.

Scottish Lib Dem justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said the use of Tasers by the BTP must be kept under review.

"It's essential that we ensure that the use of Tasers is proportionate, only used as a last resource and kept under constant review," he added.

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