Police forces in England and Wales used taser guns on minors at least 407 times between January 2014 and November 2015, including 57 times against those 14 years old or younger, according to a new report.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service recorded the highest frequency, using taser guns against 185 minors over the same period, 16 of whom were under the age of 14. Data provided by 18 forces (out of 43) shows there were 99.402 searches of under 18s that resulted in the arrest of 10.808 children.
The findings, researched by police-monitoring group Stopwatch, also revealed that UK police recorded 75 strip searches of minors in 2015.
The report, conceived as a formal submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, was based on a series of Freedom of Information requests to forces around the UK.
StopWatch said in a statement that the Human Rights Act has been “violated”, adding the information pointed to further infringements of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child.
The group, formed in 2010, pointed to research published by the Children's Rights Alliance for England, stating “children are at greater risk of injury to major organs, brain and eyes” from tasers.
It added: “Perhaps the most shocking thing is we don't really know what effects they have when used on children.
“The obvious medical concern is that children are smaller, and thus more vulnerable: their heart muscles and bones may not have developed fully; it is believed that cardiac rupture is more likely to occur among children.”
Tasers can reach a maximum voltage of up to 50,000 volts and in 2007 the UN Committee said they can be considered a form of torture.
Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International’s arms control programme director for the UK, said then he was concerned there was "no specific guidance on Taser use against young people and children".
Carla Garnelas, the co-director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (Crae), said: “The use of Taser on children is a breach of their human rights. UN bodies have repeatedly called for the UK government to ban their use on children, highlighting the serious risk of physical and psychological harm they pose, yet the use of Taser on children continues. We want to see a ban on Taser use on children.”
More than two-thirds of people who had a Taser used against them in England and Wales between 2010 and 2014 had been identified by police as mentally ill, according to Home Office figures released last year.
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