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MSPs to hear Taser gun concerns Campaigner's warning on Taser use
(about 1 hour later)
Human rights campaigners are to urge Scottish police to stop the use of stun guns, claiming evidence from America shows they can be a lethal weapon. A human rights body has hit out at "alarming" calls to extend the use of Taser guns by police.
Amnesty International, which is holding a seminar for MSPs, said more than 150 people had died in the US and Canada, after police used Tasers on them. The weapons, designed to temporarily incapacitate by delivering a strong electrical pulse, are currently used only by trained firearms officers.
The devices are designed to incapacitate a suspect by sending thousands of volts through their body. But Amnesty International described requests for all police officers in Scotland to be issued with Tasers as "a proposal we find alarming".
Scottish police forces insist the devices can save lives. It called for a public inquiry into their safety and impact on policing.
However, researchers from Amnesty are to tell MSPs that in the US they have been used against young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and even a handcuffed nine-year-old. The human rights body is holding a seminar on the devices at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. name="return">
Senior police officers in Scotland said the Taser is only used by specialist firearms officers in the UK. More than 150 Taser-related deaths have occurred in the USA and Canada since 2001, according to Amnesty.
They have been deployed four times by Strathclyde Police - Scotland's biggest force. href="#graphic" class="bodl">How the stun gun works
A spokesman said in at least three of those incidents the only alternative would have been to shoot the individuals involved. Programme director for Scotland, Rosemary Burnett, said: "Our research in the USA shows that Tasers can kill.
"We hope that Amnesty's experience and research in America will help inform the debate in Scotland."
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "We have to question the notion that Tasers are non-lethal weapons.
"There is evidence that those with heart problems can be killed by a shock of this magnitude."
Norrie Flowers, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, defended the use of the devices.
He insisted none of the deaths in the US had been directly attributed to the use of the weapon.
"We're talking about officer safety, we're talking about public safety," said Mr Flowers.
"Every single police officer is accountable for their actions, and no police officer takes it lightly when they have to use any kind of force."
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