Campaigners have called for a ban on English police firing Tasers at children, after it emerged the stun-guns have been used against under-18s more than 140 times a year.
Taser deployments on young people soared from 21 to 141 in the four years up to 2010, despite official guidance that minors "should be considered at possible greater risk than adults", Home Office figures have revealed. The number of times the 50,000-volt weapons were fired at children rose from 11 to 31 during the same period. Officers also used Tasers in "drive stun mode" against nine under-18s in 2010, holding the device against the "target" to cause pain and subdue them.
The Home Office and police chiefs last night said the weapons were used only "where violence or threats of violence are so severe that officers need to protect themselves or others".
The human rights group Amnesty International recommends "the use of Tasers on children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with heart disease should be avoided in all circumstances unless officers are faced with an immediate threat to life or serious injury which cannot be contained by less extreme options".