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1 May 2013, 09:34
120 extra police officers in Cambridgeshire are being trained to use Tasers, before carrying them on patrol.
The additional officers, from local policing, the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) team and the Tactical Team will begin to carry them out on the streets.
Cambridgeshire Police have told Heart: "Currently, only 55 firearms officers are trained to carry Taser but it has proven to be an effective tool in dealing with potentially violent situations safely and rapidly."
"Officers who are issued with Tasers are trained to a national standard using nationally-prepared guidance and have been working with colleagues in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire who have already extended its use."
Training took place over a four month period and officers were required to complete a three-and-a-half day course and pass the national eyesight test.
Chief Inspector Nick Church, lead officer on Taser, said: "Extending the use of Taser across the force will enhance the safety of both the public and officers."
"I know there has been concern about its extended use but our firearms officers have been authorised to use Taser since 2006."
"The threat of using Taser, where a red dot appears on the person's torso, is often enough to quieten an offender so they can be dealt with without injury to them, officers or members of the public."
"Our officers have to deal with violent, often unstable, offenders and this simple device is one of a number of tactical options officers can use when there is a threat to a member of public or an officer."
Since January 1st 2012, Taser has been deployed 432 times in Cambridgeshire, people have been red-dotted on 37 occasions and there have been three discharges.
This financial year (April 1 st 2012 - April 1st 2013) the force estimates the roll out of Taser will cost in the region of £62,000.
Ch Insp Church added: "Taser will only be used when absolutely necessary and will be considered alongside other options including negotiation, batons, incapacitant sprays and dogs."
MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, told Heart "I'm very concerned...It's one thing for firearms officers who are speically trained, to use tasers instead of guns, but I think if more officers do that, it leads to more policing by force rather than the sort of policing consent that we've traditionally had here."
"I'm particularly concered that it comes just a week after somebody died after being shot with a taser. There are serious concerns about the risk of some of these, and I am disappointed that Cambridgeshire Constabulary are taking this step."