HUMAN rights campaigners have slammed the use of Tasers in police cells.
Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s arms programme director, called for their use to be banned.
He said: “Tasers should not be used in custody cells as the subject is already under effective control and in custody.
“Using a Taser on someone who is already under effective control could amount to cruel and degrading treatment, which is banned under international treaties.
“Tasers were introduced into UK policing specifically to deal with incidents of life threatening, or very serious violence from a safer distance.
“Amnesty’s fear is that wider deployment has led to Tasers being misused for far more minor incidents.”
According to government guidelines, Tasers can be used by authorised officers ‘when faced with violence or threats of violence of such severity that force is needed to protect the public, themselves or the individual concerned’.
Former Home Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw, who was responsible for the introduction of the devices, said Tasers had to be used with discretion, particularly in a police cell.
He added: “They are much safer than the alternative, which in a confined situation would include the use of pepper spray or truncheons.
“We need to bear in mind police are faced with some extraordinarily disruptive individuals who are often out of their heads.
“I agree Tasers have to be used properly but I think everybody needs to bear in mind the job the police do.
“It is dangerous to the individual and also the police.”
The IPCC report’s author said Lancashire Constabulary had been asked to revisit its guidance and training for custody sergeants so they were more aware of the procedure for use of Tasers in custody suites.
Mr Birtwistle said: “It is ridiculous training may not have been up-to-date. Anybody who uses a Taser should be properly trained and know what it is all about.
“The police have got to act on what they have been told to do.”