Police use of Tasers on children falls dramatically in the North East

The number of times police in the North have used Tasers when dealing with children has fallen dramatically in recent years

A police Taser device
A police Taser device

The number of times police in the North have used Tasers when dealing with children has fallen dramatically in recent years.

Northumbria Police has bucked national trends by reducing the utilisation of the special stun-guns during incidents involving youngsters.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that police across the UK used Tasers more than 400 times when dealing with children in 2013, up 42% on 2012.

However, there was only one child-related incident last year when a Northumbria officer resorted to the stun gun.

This is a huge reduction on 2010, the year when the force came under fire for Tasering fugitive gunman Raoul Moat, when there were 15 instances of Tasers being used with children.

The Journal asked Northumbria Police to explain whether the fall was the result of some sort of change in policy or protocol. But the force responded by issuing a general statement about its use of Tasers.

A spokesman said: “Northumbria Police’s overriding objective when dealing with violent or threatening situations is to bring them to a peaceful conclusion while protecting both the public and our officers.

“Tasers can be a highly effective tactic in the appropriate circumstances and we only make them available to a small number of officers who have been carefully selected and trained in their use. Consequently it is not widely used and only deployed when specific criteria are met. These figures show that year on year, Northumbria Police officers are resolving the vast majority of incidents without the need to use Taser by employing other methods.”

A Taser is a hand-held electroshock weapon sold by Taser International. It uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles.

The use of Tasers was first rolled out to police forces across the UK in 2008. In this year Northumbria officers used the weapons 17 times on children, more than any other force for which data is available.

This rose to 21 in 2009 and in 2010 they were used 15 times.

But in 2011 there were just four incidents involving children and Tasers.

The use of Tasers on children by Durham Constabulary officers is also falling, but at a slower rate than in Northumbria.

They were used eight times in 2010, six in 2011 and four in 2013.

Police in Durham have fired Tasers at children seven times in the past six years. The youngest child a Taser was used against was one aged 14 who was aimed at and two 14-year-olds who were red dotted.


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