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  1. ITV Report

200 more Avon and Somerset officers to carry tasers in response to 'alarming rise' in police assaults

The taser stun gun can deliver 50,000 volts into a suspect's body. Credit: ITV News West Country

The number of police on patrol with a taser stun gun in Avon and Somerset is to increase by more than 200, ITV News can exclusively reveal.

The increase in officers carrying the weapon means nearly half of all front line officers will now be armed with a taser.

Avon and Somerset Police say the move is in response to an alarming rise in the number of assaults on officers.

Avon and Somerset officers are currently in training for the roll-out of additional tasers. Credit: ITV News West Country
  • What is a taser stun gun?

Tasers are designed to deliver "electronic incapacitation".

Two probes are fired from the gun which can deliver a 50,0000 volt charge into a suspect's body at 19 pulses per second.

Officers working for the force say they use the taser as "a last resort", but believe the measure is necessary after a 40% rise in the number of assaults on police in the past year.

In response, the number of Avon and Somerset officers carrying taser guns will now increase from 422 to 650.

The taser x2 device can issue a warning option whereby the gun doesn't actually fire. Credit: ITV News West Country

Critics argue an increase in the number of tasers on the street will only make matters worse.

The Human Rights Group 'Liberty' says the stun guns are "extremely dangerous" and can even escalate the risk of violence.

The additional tasers come at a cost to Avon and Somerset Police of around £150,000 but officers argue just the presence of the weapon can act as a deterrent.

In the past six months to September there were 458 taser incidents in the Avon and Somerset force, within that there were:

96
incidents where a situation was diffused by simply drawing a taser.
227
incidents where a situation was diffused using the red dot warning lights on a taser.
69
incidents where a situation was diffused by firing a taser.

A recent poll found nationwide more than eight out of 10 police officers want to carry stun guns, like tasers, and would feel safer with the devices.