STUN GUNS FOR EVERY BOBBY ON THE BEAT; Human Rights Protest as Report Suggests the Routine Use of Tasers by Scottish Police

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Byline: Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

SCOTLAND'S rank-andfile police officers could be routinely armed with potentially deadly Taser stun guns.

An official report praised the use of the weapons following a trial launched by Strathclyde Police two years ago.

This saw 50 ordinary beat officers armed with electric stun guns while they carried out their regular dayto-day duties.

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 firearms officers.

The Strathclyde trial was the first time beat bobbies in Scotland were allowed to carry the devices.

Last night it emerged that a preliminary report into the six-month pilot recommends wider Taser use among Scotland's 17,000 officers.

But Amnesty International in Scotland claimed the Strathclyde project had breached European human rights laws and last night voiced concern over a possible extension of the scheme.

Its programme director Shabnum Mustapha said Tasers 'must only be used by a limited number of highlytrained specialist officers, who are Turn to Page 2

Continued from Page One responding to genuinely life-threatening or very dangerous situations'.

Campaigners say Taser use breaches Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - the right to life.

Christopher Mason, author of the report on the Strathclyde Police Authority trial, said Tasers were deployed in 11 incidents.

He added: 'In ten of the 11 cases, the [officer] reports that merely drawing the Taser from its holster... was sufficient to secure compliance.

'In the 11th case, when the Taser was discharged, the subject was threatening to kill himself with a knife and was in a state of great mental anguish. …