Police in West Yorkshire have used high-powered Taser stun guns almost a thousand times to subdue violent criminals in the last two years.
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post under the Freedom of Information Act show officers used the devices a total of 924 times between January 2011 and January 2013 where there was “a high threat of violence”.
That means the force’s 386 Taser guns were employed an average of more than once a day.
A police spokespman said: “Taser helps the police to improve our ability to protect the public and police officers from violent offenders.
“It forms part of a graduated response and is only used when there is a high threat of violence. In every case, officers will try to achieve a peaceful resolution by talking with suspects in the first instance.
“Anyone subjected to Taser is assessed by a doctor and our experience is that people recover very quickly and there are no lasting effects.”
Introduced in West Yorkshire in 2005, Tasers are used to incapacitate offenders with a 50,000-volt electric charge, which in most cases can paralyse him or her for five seconds.
Figures show that from the beginning of January last year, to the beginning of January this year, the stun gun was used by officers 359 times.
The 417 officers authorised to use the device discharged it a total of 70 times.
There were three “drive stuns”, where the device is physically placed on a person’s body, and five “arced” stuns, which involved the Taser darts being fired.
The weapons were aimed and targeted but not fired - referred to as a “red dot” - 168 times.
When a Taser is aimed, a red dot appears showing where the barbs would hit the suspect.
The devices were aimed but not activated, 39 times and drawn from holsters 74 times.
Police say many offenders become passive when they know they could be Tasered, meaning they do not have to actually be shocked.
The figures were down from the previous year, when the weapons were used 565 times – 101 discharges, nine drive stuns, 11 arced and 281 red dots. The Tasers were aimed 51 times and drawn 112.
Last year the force also received seven official complaints about the use of Tasers.
Tasers have become widely used by police across the country since Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced in 2008 that up to 30,000 police officers across all forces in England and Wales were to be trained in their use.Until more recently, only specially-trained firearms officers were authorised to carry the weapons. But more officers were allowed to use them following a 12-month trial in West Yorkshire and nine other forces.
The devices have been used to bring a number of high-profile incidents in Leeds to an end. In October last year a dramatic call-out saw police use a stun gun to subdue Dave Oldfield, a knifeman with injuries that eventually proved fatal.
Police had rushed to his home on Poplar Square, Farsley following reports that a woman, believed to be his partner, had been stabbed and was bleeding in the street. Oldfield, 38, was brandishing a knife when officers arrived and was Tasered before being taken to Leeds General Infirmary, where his death was confirmed.
A post mortem confirmed the stab wounds had killed him.