An average of one person every fortnight is stunned by police with a Taser in South Yorkshire, new figures reveal.
More than 60 people in South Yorkshire have been subdued and restrained with the police electro-shock weapons in little more than two years.
The youngest person to have been stunned was 19 – while the oldest was 62. A Taser was also used against a dog last year. Figures unearthed as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign reveal Tasers were discharged by South Yorkshire Police 28 times in 2012/13, and on 29 occasions in 2013/14.
They have so far been used seven times in the first three months of this financial year.
But the police say they are unable to provide figures on how many people required medical treatment as a result, due to the time it would take to collate information not held electronically.
Tasers can generate 50,000 volts, but the Association of Chief Police Officers says that, when travelling across the human body, that drops to a peak of 1,200.
Authorised firearms officers have been using Tasers since 2004. In 2008, use of the weapons was extended to specially trained units.
All South Yorkshire Police’s 85 firearms officers carry a Taser, plus 10 per cent of uniformed officers.
A police spokeswoman said officers are given ‘intensive training’ in their use, and deploy the weapons only in certain circumstances.
She said: “Tasers can be deployed under two sets of circumstances – a pre-planned discharge where it’s deemed there is a heightened risk, and a spontaneous incident, where there is considered to be a risk.
“Tasers can be deployed when there is reason to believe there is a risk to the public, to the police officer, or to the person themselves.
“Officers who carry Tasers receive intensive training and annual refresher training.”
A Taser was used earlier this year against Carl Jepson, aged 28, of Conyers Drive, Aston, who had been holding a knife against his ex-partner’s throat. Jepson was sentenced to 30 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months at Sheffield Crown Court in July after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Amnesty International UK said it was difficult to tell from the numbers whether Tasers are being used appropriately by the force.
Oliver Sprague, arms programme director, said: “Tasers are potentially lethal, so should be used only in life-threatening instances, or of very serious injury.”