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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what studies he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the health implications arising from the use by police forces of tasers; and if he will make a statement. [119081]

The Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) Sub Committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons (DOMILL) has issued a statement on the medical implications of the use of taser. It concludes that the risk of death from high power tasers (such as the M26) is low, and certainly very much lower than that from conventional firearms. The full statement was included in the Third Report of the Research Programme into Alternative Policing Approaches towards the Management of Conflict issued by the Northern Ireland Office in December 2002.The statement recommended further work in three areas to clarify cardiac hazards associated with the use of taser on individuals who could be considered to have a greater risk of adverse effects. Although DOMILL did not consider this research essential, it was commissioned last autumn. The work is being carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) under contract to the Police Scientific Development Branch of the Home Office.