Police Taser three teenage pupils with learning difficulties

An investigation has been launched after police Tasered three teenage boys with complex learning difficulties after being called to a school

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The Independent Online

An investigation into the Tasering of three teenagers with complex learning difficulties by police at a school is to be overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Tasers were used on the boys, all aged 14 or 15 by Devon and Cornwall Police after being called to reports of an alleged assault on a teacher at Chelfham Senior School near Plymouth.

The teacher was treated at the scene by paramedics for chest and head injuries before being taken to Derriford Hospital.

Following the incident, which took place at the beginning of December, Devon and Cornwall Police referred itself to the police watchdog.

Now the IPCC has announced that it has asked the force to carry out an investigation into the incident, which it will supervise, after identifying “specific concerns” about the use of the weapon.

According to the information provided by Devon and Cornwall Police the Taser was used on three boys aged 14 and 15 following a 999 call about a violent incident at the school, the watchdog said.

“From the review we have carried out of Taser complaints we have specific concerns about some of the ways and circumstances in which it is used,” IPCC Associate Commissioner Tom Milsom said.

“We have asked Devon and Cornwall Police to carry out a supervised investigation into the incident at Chelfham Senior School so that the public can be reassured that the examination of this incident receives independent oversight.”

The day and residential school for boys and girls aged seven to 19, specialises in children with learning difficulties including behavioural, emotional and social difficulties and autism.

It is and is owned by the Priory Group, famed for its exclusive addiction clinics favoured by celebrities.

The latest incident follows and ongoing investigation by the police watchdog into Devon and Cornwall Police after officers Tasered a man who had doused himself in petrol, causing him to burst into flames.

Andrew Pimlott, 32, suffered horrific injuries in the confrontation outside his house in Plymouth and died in a hospital burns unit five days later.

Figures released to Parliament earlier this year showed armed officers discharged, targeted or threatened to use Tasers against youngsters more than 320 times in 2011 - an 11-fold increase from the first year they were cleared for use against under-18s in 2007.

In the first year of officers being cleared to Taser children, they were used 29 times in England. By 2009, this had increased to 135.

In 2010, the weapons were used 339 times against children and by 2011 - the latest year that figures are available - the total stood at 323.