EALING Police are to be armed with stunguns for the first time in response to a rise in violent crime across the capital.
Forty of Ealing’s emergency response officers will carry Tasers, which can shoot out electrically charged prongs on copper wire more than 20ft.
Sergeant Andy Harding, the Met’s lead Taser instructor, gave a presentation to a small crowd at Ealing Town Hall on Wednesday.
He said being tasered himself was “the most horrible experience I’ve ever had”. But he insisted the 50,000-volt weapon did not cause any lasting damage and was a safer than using a baton for both the suspect and the officer.
He said police officers can be powerless when dealing with armed criminals but the stun guns would turn the tables.
Asked whether it could be a risk for people with heart trouble or other conditions, he said: "There’s always a risk when dealing with violence. Taser is less injurious. Stress can always cause problems, using a Taser or a baton would both cause stress."
He said juding a Taser’s strength by its voltage was misleading, as it is a measure of electric potential. Rather, he said it was the strength of the electric current, or the number of amps, that best explained a Taser’s ability to inflict damage. He said household plug fuses cut off electricity at 13 amps. Tasers carry merely 0.0021 amps of electric current.
As well as causing pain, the device paralyses the suspect by blocking electrical signals from the brain to the muscles.
A video of it in action showed a suspect standing up almost immediately after the five-second burst was over.
The stunguns have been used by the Met’s 1,300 armed officers since 2003 and the 450 territorial support group officers, dealing with public order and other serious incidents capital-wide, since 2007.
Mr Harding said the presence of the bright yellow and black weapon was often enough to make a violent criminal back down. In 2012 they were only fired 10 per cent of the times they were drawn.
He said strict training, paperwork and regulations would ensure the weapons would not be misused.
The stunguns will be regularly carried on the borough’s streets from May 13. There will be four officers equipped with the Tasers at any one time who will work in pairs.