Following a trial in five forces in 2003, the Home Secretary agreed to allow Chief Officers of all forces in England and Wales to make the laser available to authorised firearms officers as a less lethal alternative for use in situations where a firearms authority has been granted in accordance with criteria laid down in the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms.
Following a request by ACPO my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary agreed in July 2007 that laser may be deployed by an authorised firearms officer beyond situations in which a firearms authority would be granted. In these cases, officers would be facing violence or threats of violence of such severity that they would need to use force to protect the public, themselves and/or the subjects.
My right hon. Friend also agreed to a 12 month trial, from 1 September 2007, in 10 selected forces of use of laser in similar circumstances by specially trained units who are not authorised firearms officers.
Full policy and operational guidance documents on the use of laser has been issued by ACPO, and there is a rigorous selection procedure for officers which is fully set out in the ACPO guidance. Laser is only issued to specially trained officers who have successfully completed approved ACPO sponsored training in the use of the device. All officers will be required to successfully complete annual refresher training.