Taser use in South Yorkshire soars by nearly 60 per cent

An officer takes aim with a Taser during training
An officer takes aim with a Taser during training

The use of Taser stun guns by police in South Yorkshire has soared by nearly 60 per cent, with the weapons deployed more than 450 times last year.

Tasers were used 285 times by the force in 2016, but that number leapt to 454 last year, new figures show, and the devices were used 73 times during January and February this year.

However, on the vast majority of occasions, the weapons were not fired, only being drawn, aimed or partially activated to shine a red dot on the subject.

READ MORE: First footage released after man is Tasered and arrested on Sheffield street

In 2016, they were fired 50 times, last year they were discharged on 69 occasions and in the first two months of 2018 - the latest period for which figures are available, they were fired 10 times.

Tasers were discharged accidentally five times during 2016 and three times last year, but no unintentional discharges were recorded during January and February this year.

The statistics, published by South Yorkshire Police, can be revealed just days after dramatic pictures emerged of a man being Tasered on a Sheffield street.

READ MORE: Mother's terror as yobs 'fire' at car in Sheffield with young daughters inside

Officers used a Taser on Langsett Road, Hillsborough, on May 4, while arresting Westley Jones.

The 23-year-old, of Greenwood Avenue, Darnall, was later charged with taking a vehicle without consent, driving over the limit, dangerous driving and driving without a licence and insurance.

Tasers are a type of stun gun which use probes to deliver an electrical charge, temporarily incapacitating the subject.

READ MORE: Packed house expected at funeral of popular Sheffield boxer Scott Westgarth

Police statistics break down Taser use into six different categories, not including unintentional discharge.

These range from the weapon being drawn to it being fired and, very rarely, used to 'drive stun' - when it is held against the subject's body to deliver a shock - or for an 'angled drive stun' - when probes are fired but one misses and the device has to be held against the body to complete an electrical circuit.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has described Tasers as a useful tool to defuse situations involving the threat of violence. It says the stun guns are often more appropriate than other resources like physical restraint, batons or police dogs.

TASER USE BY SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE IN 2017 (2016 figures in brackets)

DRAWN: 91 (36)

AIMED: 26 (16)

RED DOT: 250 (173)

ARCED: 0 (0)

FIRED: 69 (50)

ANGLED DRIVE STUN: 3 (4)

DRIVE STUN: 2 (1)

UNINTENTIONAL DISCHARGE: 3 (5)

TOTAL: 454 (285)