Lincolnshire Police has defended its stance on Tasers after it was revealed the force has ‘used’ the device on people as young as 10 and as old as 78.
The breadth of ages came to light following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted to the Home Office over the device, which uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles.
Lincolnshire Police is the only force in England and Wales to have used a Taser on someone under 11 in the years covered by the FoI - 2012 and 2013.
The 10-year-old in question was ‘red dotted’ by the force, meaning a Taser was pointed at them using its targeting mechanism, but not fired.
The FoI did reveal, however, the force has fired a Taser on one child of 15 and one of 17.
The oldest person to feature in the data for the force was 78. They were the second oldest person in England and Wales to have a Taser fired on them during 2012 and 2013.
The Home Office stresses some of the ages may be estimates. There are also a number of cases in which ages have not been stated.
Lincolnshire Police’s Insp Mark Garthwaite, who oversees Taser use at the force, said the county’s officers are trained to consider what impact a Taser discharge may have on someone’s health, taking into account such factors as age. They will balance this, however, with the threat presented, he said.
In relation to the 10-year-old, he said the child was on a low roof (making it difficult to approach him), had ‘previously assaulted his family and police officers and was again acting violently’.
After being ‘red dotted’, the child stopped, he said.
“Nobody was hurt, including the young man,” he said.
The 78-year-old, he said, had been making threats and was thought to have a knife.
Insp Garthwaite stressed that any use of a Taser is scrutinised to make sure it is ‘lawful and justifiable’.