New figures obtained show that Greater Manchester Police used Taser stun guns against youngsters 231 times over the last six years including on children as young as 13.
The statistics illustrate how the use of the weapon against under 19s peaked in 2011 when it was used on 77 occasions. The most concerning incident happened in 2011 when a Taser was fired at a 13-year old boy. Police commented in relation to that matter that he had already stabbed two individuals and accordingly it was necessary to intervene prevent more violence.
Chief Superintendent John O’Hare said:
“In this particular case, the 13-year-old was threatening people with a knife and had already stabbed two people.
“He presented a serious risk to himself and others and, therefore, met the criteria for the deployment of a Taser to protect others from ongoing violence and the potential risk of serious injury from a knife.
“Each case is assessed by a trained officer at the scene and, if it is reasonable to protect the public or the police, a Taser may be the most appropriate response.”
The figures show that when GMP initially commenced using Taser stun guns in 2008, they were involved in just three incidents with suspects aged under 19. Use against young people rose slightly over the next two years (11 in 2009 and 15 in 2010) before the peak usage in 2011.
The figures record stun gun usage when the weapon is fired or even simply drawn. However the figures are broken down into ‘fired’ when probes are fired into the suspect and an electric charge delivered, used in ‘stun’ mode when the weapon is held against the suspect to deliver a charge, ‘red-dotted’ when it is aimed but no charge delivered and even simply ‘drawn’ when it is removed but not aimed, fired or in any manner used.
GMP officers actually fired Tasers at children on 39 occasions during the six year period. As well as the youngest in 2011 the stun guns were also fired at two 14-year-olds (in 2011 and 2012). A 15-year-old, ten 16-year-olds, nine 17-year-olds and 16 18-year-olds also had Tasers fired at them during the period, the figures show.
Critics argue that Tasers a can cause cardiac arrhythmia in susceptible subjects, possibly leading to heart attack or death in minutes by ventricular fibrillation, which leads to cardiac arrest and, if not treated immediately, to sudden death. People susceptible to this outcome are sometimes healthy and unaware of their susceptibility. Although the medical conditions or use of illegal drugs among some of the casualties may have been the proximate cause of death, the electric shock of the Taser can significantly elevate such risk for subjects in an at-risk category.
In 2013, factory worker Jordan Begley, 23, from Gorton, died within two hours of being shot with a Taser at his home.