Tasers deployed at a rate of 30 times a day in 2016

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Police in England and Wales deployed Tasers at a rate of 30 times a day last year, new figures show.

Forces recorded a total of 11,294 uses of the devices in 2016 - a rise of 904, or 9%, on the tally in the previous 12 months. Of these, five "uses" were due to accidental discharges.

Home Office statistics show that the number of instances where the weapons were discharged fell in 2016.

Of the known 11,289 uses, 17% (1,910) were discharges - a decrease of 10, or 1%, on 2015.

Of the 1,910 discharges, 92% (1,755) were fired, which was a rise of 26, or 2%, on the previous year.

Instances categorised as "drive stun" and "angled drive stun" accounted for the remaining 155 discharges.

The vast majority of Taser uses in 2016 were non-discharges, with 9,379 in this bracket - an increase of 11% on the previous year.

Red-dot was the most common type of use, accounting for 51% (5,744) of the total uses in 2016.

This is where the device is not fired but deliberately aimed and then partially activated so a laser red dot is placed onto the subject.

The new figures relate to use of the Taser X26, which will be replaced by a new device, the Taser X2.

Authorised for use earlier this year, the X2 model can be fired twice if it misses or does not subdue the target on the first go.

Taser use has been at the centre of controversy in the past after a number of deaths.

Surveys carried out by rank-and-file police associations have indicated there is strong support for the equipment to be issued to more frontline officers.

Che Donald, lead on Taser for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "There has been a fall in the number of times Taser was discharged, which demonstrates that each use of Taser is proportionate to the manner and threats faced by officers.

"More than 80% of uses were non-discharges - with the number of red-dot uses making up more than half of all Taser usage.

"This shows that by virtue of possession of a Taser, police officers are gaining compliance of members of the public. This is further evidence that greater roll-out of Taser across the service would be beneficial."

Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Taser is an important tactical option to help specially trained police officers resolve potentially violent situations safely.

"However, any use of force by the police must be lawful and proportionate.

"These statistics provide important insight into the police's use of Taser.

"But we're going even further, and from April 1 all officers will be recording who Taser and other types of force are being used on, the location and outcome of any incident, along with the ethnicity and age of those involved bringing unprecedented transparency to police use of force."

Michael Tennant.

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