Taser on police officer's belt

Taser's X2 stun gun authorised for use in UK

A new digital conducted-energy stun gun, manufactured by American company Taser, can now be used by police in UK.

A new model of conducted-energy stun gun has been authorised by the UK's Home Office for use by police in England and Wales.

The Taser X2 has two cartridge bays, giving it a “dual shot” capacity. It replaces the analogue X26 model, which is now more than a decade old.

Managing director for Taser UK Matt Spencer said: “With the X2's improved accuracy, with its dual lasers, a built-in back-up cartridge and a powerful warning arc deterrent, the X2 allows police to de-escalate situations more easily.“

The superseded X26 model had only a single-shot capacity. A scientific report for the Home Office found it had “failed to subdue a subject on 30 per cent of occasions when it was used in “probe mode.

With the new X2, police will be able to rapidly deploy the second cartridge without having to pause and reload.

The 50,000-volt stun gun is also wired so electrical discharges from it never last longer than the recommended upper limit of five seconds when fired once.

Other features include an electric crackle warning noise and a pulsating light to try and encourage a suspect to surrender before they are fired at.

When deployed fully, wire barbs fly into a suspect's body, carrying with them the electrical discharge.

Supporters say such weapons are a less lethal alternative to other types of use of force - e.g. firearms - but critics say several deaths have been linked to tasers. It is impossible to say whether the weapons were directly responsible for any of these deaths. 

The announcement today by the UK’s Home Office comes more than two years after the X26 was said by Taser Safety Responses Ltd, its distribution company, to have “approached its sunset”.

It is so old it is no longer produced or sold anywhere in the world, but some police forces, for example the Lincolnshire force, are said to have stockpiles of unused, now obsolete, X26s still in their delivery boxes in store rooms.

Che Donald, the Police Federation’s expert on the weapons, told E&T Magazine he believed Taser UK would now replace unused stocks of X26s with the new X2s either free of charge or at a reduced cost.

He described today’s announcement as “great and long-awaited news,” adding, “I’m mindful of the fact that so many of the current tasers in operation are beyond their warranties. 

“The next question is whether the Home Office is going to supply additional funding for forces to purchase these new ones and that remains to be seen.

In a report to the Home Office, scientific advisors recommended body-worn video cameras should be worn by officers carrying tasers.

Donald said, “Some forces don’t have body cameras yet or are going through the process of upgrading their IT systems in order to have body-worn video.”

Various types of Taser-branded conducted-energy products are used by police in America and Australia.

Canadian police even use a model of the stun gun to control polar bears that encroach on human settlements in the Churchill region of the country.

Tasers are also used in aviation security, where use of firearms by law enforcement would present particular risks.

The only other company to submit a conducted-energy weapon for testing as part of the Home Office’s procurement process was Phazzer Electronics, whose stun guns are used by police in some parts of the Far East.

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