Monday, 03 Sep, 2007 Offbeat
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Police Allowed to Use Taser Stun Guns Against Minors

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Police officers will be allowed to use Taser stun guns, 50,000-volt weapons that paralyze the target for some time. In spite the fact that the stun guns can cause heart attacks, they will be used against potentially violent offenders, including youngsters.

The Defence Scientific Advisory Council medical committee warned the Home Office that they should first carefully consider the risks of using the stun guns against youngsters. The research undertaken by the committee suggested children shot by Tasers could then suffer from serious cardiac problems. The committee also stressed it was necessary to update the guidelines to highlight the risks to youngsters and adults of low stature.

According to Amnesty International, Taser stun guns became the reason of 220 deaths in the USA since 2001. Many American cities have prohibited the use of Tasers against minors. Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, underlined the projects of using the stun guns had to be conducted with extreme caution.

According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, Taser shoot guns would be used during incidents of violence of particular severity, implying they will need force.

The Tasers fire darts into targets delivering strong electric shocks via a copper wire. They are considered to represent a less lethal alternative to commonly used police weapons. The Tasers were initially introduced in the UK in 2003.

Police Minister Tony McNulty did not say a word about Government advisors warnings of a potential risk to minors. However, he confirmed that medical research had proved that the risk of fatal or severe injury from Tasers was low. According to the Home Office, non-firearms police officers will not be routinely provided with Tasers. The weapons will be only used for incidents of violence where force may be required.

Officers participating in the one-year pilot scheme will have to undergo a strict selection procedure and then study by the specific training program approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

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