According to official figures from the Home Office, the use of Taser stun guns by police in England and Wales has reached a record high amount.
The statistics show that the weapons, which deliver a high-voltage electric shock, were deployed in 23,000 incidents in the 12 months to the end of March this year.
The figure increased more than a third on the previous year (17,000) and double the 2016 total of 11,000.
In most cases, the devices were aimed at a suspect without being fired. However, there were 2,500 recorded firings during that period which is thought to be the highest number recorded.
Conductive Energy Devices (CEDs) – known by their brand name, Tasers – were first trialled in UK police forces in 2003, and their use by specially trained officers was authorised five years later. The roll-out to all forces was completed in 2013 when they were used 10,000 times.
To be issued with a Taser, police officers must have completed 18 hours of training and are then required to undergo a compulsory refresher course every year.
The Home Office report which published the statistics says the increase may reflect the number of trained officers and weapons available to deal with incidents that require the use of force.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation, told the BBC in August that officers say they feel “vulnerable and often isolated due to the lack of this vital protective equipment”.
He said: “Ultimately, having a Taser gives them the capability to defend not only themselves but also the public they want to protect.”
The report also revealed there were 428,000 recorded incidents in which a police officer used force although handcuffing was the most common use accounting for 401,000 of those incidents.