Byline: Graham Grant y Home Affairs Editor
SCOTLAND'S rank and file police officers will be barred from protecting themselves using Taser stun guns - to safeguard criminals' human rights.
A trial was launched by Strathclyde Police two years ago which saw ordinary beat bobbies take the weapons on patrol.
Fifty officers were armed with the electric stun guns while they carried out their regular day-to-day duties.
An initial evaluation report earlier this year was positive, leading to speculation the use of Tasers could be seen more widely - but police chiefs have dropped the idea after negative legal advice.
Lawyers warned that the 'right to life' under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) could be breached. R
Last night there was anger among beat bobbies that human rights legislation had derailed plans for an extension of Taser use when Scotland's single police force is launched next April.
Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said: 'It is disappointing to say the least that the ECHR seems to apply to just about everyone - apart from police officers.
'Our primary concern is for officers' safety and this report has very positive findings. But again we're seeing a big difference between the "human rights" of officers and those of the people they deal with - sometimes violent criminals.'
Tasers, which can deliver disabling 50,000-volt shocks by firing electric barbs up to 35ft, were previously given only to a relatively small number of trained firearms officers.
The Strathclyde trial was the first time that ordinary beat officers in Scotland were allowed to carry the devices during their normal duties.
But Amnesty International in Scotland claimed the Strathclyde project had breached European human rights laws and voiced concern over a possible extension of the scheme.
A report by the University of the West of Scotland and the Scottish Institute for Policing Research found nearly 80 per cent of people in a survey across the force area 'strongly agreed' with arming some beat bobbies with Tasers.
Experts said the 'specially trained officers (STOs) who took part in the Strathclyde pilot made proportionate and sensible judgments about the deployment of Taser'.
In one of the subdivisions involved in the Taser pilot scheme, assaults on police fell by about 48 per cent between 2009 and 2010, from 84 to 44, compared with a force-wide average decline of around 12 per cent.
The report found that 'the sight of the reflective vests worn and of the Taser itself could prove beneficial in defusing potentially violent situations'.
But the evaluation report also 'raised a number of legal questions around compliance with Article 2 of the ECHR in relation to lawful use of a potentially lethal device'. …