A new ‘super-taser’ stun gun that fires a 500 volt wire-less ‘bullet’ up to 20 metres is being considered for use by UK police forces, the Home Office has confirmed.
The extended Range Electronic Projectile (XREP), already used by police in the US, fires a barbed electrode from a modified 12-bore shotgun.
It hooks into the target’s skin before administering a 20 second shock which renders the subject totally incapacitated.
And if the recipient tries to pull the device off, ”reflex engagement electrodes” complete a circuit that sends the shock through the subject’s body through their hand.
Amnesty International has expressed ”serious concern” about the XREP and are worried by news it could be authorised in the UK.
XREP manufacturers Taser International describe the taser as a ”revolutionary” step towards immobilising dangerous criminals from a greater distance than ever before.
Traditional hand-held Taser stun guns can fire electrified darts up to 25 feet and deliver a five-second shock, which can be retriggered.
A spokesman for XREP said: ”This is the first wireless projectile that can deliver less-than lethal electro-muscular incapacitation at long range.
”Launched from a 12-gauge shotgun platform, this innovative device is set to revolutionise law enforcement operations and will give military forces an effective, less lethal option up to a range of 20m.”
Amnesty International claim 334 people in the US died between 2001 and 2008 after being targeted by the stun gun.
UK’s arms programme director, Oliver Sprague, said: ”This is effectively a shotgun that fires electric-shock bullets.
”Because this bullet can be fired wire-free from a standard shotgun there is a heightened risk of causing serious injury to the face and head.
”We’re also concerned by the fact that these weapons will deliver an excruciatingly painful shock for 20 seconds.
”Amnesty would be very alarmed if the Home Office were to consider authorising this weapon to police officers in the UK.”
A Home Office Spokesperson said: ”The Home Office Scientific Development Branch is considering the XREP as part of its on-going remit to evaluate new technologies.
”All new technologies are subjected to the most stringent safety tests and independent medical evaluation before they can be considered for police issue.
”The Government and the police have no current plans to introduce XREP tasers into service.”
Tasers have been used in around 6,000 incidents in England and Wales since they were introduced in April 2004, .
When introduced Tasers were only used by firearms-qualified officers but following successful trials are now issued to officers with specialist training.
David Hanson MP said this week: ”Tasers are a vital police tool which help protect both officers and the public.
”They do not even have to be discharged to help defuse violent or dangerous situations, often just drawing the device can be enough to deter criminals.”