Tasers drawn 131 times by Gloucestershire Police each year
TASERS were drawn 131 times by Gloucestershire police last year, new figures reveal.
They were used to subdue people in around a third of those cases.
About 25 officers on the county's streets at any one time carry one of the electronic stun guns, and 220 are trained to use the 103 Tasers owned by Gloucestershire Constabulary.
Last month The Citizen revealed a sharp rise in the number of firearms incidents, which the force put down to Taser use, and these new statistics appear to bear that out.
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Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that in 2010 there were 88 incidents attended by officers with firearms, then 271 in 2011 and 406 in 2012.
In 91 Taser incidents, the weapons were either aimed, or not fired with the safety catch removed – known as a "red dot".
On 30 occasions they were discharged on a person with a probe or barb. A "drive stun" where the taser is pressed against someone but gives a shock without firing the probes or barbs, was used seven times. The weapons were "arced" – sparked without a cartridge being fired – three times.
In 2009, a 15-year-old boy who threatened to kill himself thanked a policeman who fired a Taser in Quedgeley, for saving his life.
A Gloucestershire police spokesman said: "Tasers offer a valuable and additional means of resolving dangerous situations safely and without the risk of serious injury.
"They are carried only by specially trained officers and used in exceptional circumstances where an extremely high risk is posed to the public or officers," he said.
"When Taser, or any other force is used on an individual, a police officer will always have to justify their actions as being necessary and proportionate under the law.
"We have increased the number of Taser trained officers over the past two years as they has been very successful at helping resolve many dangerous situations without casualties. There are no immediate plans to increase the number again."
Gloucestershire police and crime commissioner Martin Surl said: "If carefully deployed, a taser is an effective means of defusing a volatile situation and a deterrent against escalating violence.
"While I would always expect the police to use the minimum force necessary, the use of Tasers is a practice I will monitor very carefully."
■ Have you been Tasered? Call The Citizen newsdesk on 01452 698 821.