Prepare to be shocked

One day I sat down beside the track, Grand Prix about to commence, and touched a live wire. I sprang to my feet, clutching my wrist. The pain wasnt that bad but I nevertheless resolved to try and avoid electric shocks in future.

This I have managed to do for more than 30 years, but Im growing concerned that should a policeman ever choose to interpret my impeccably well-mannered demeanour as non-compliance, I could find myself on the receiving end, not of a piddling shock of the sort I got from my slot car racing set but the 50,000 volts delivered by a Taser stun gun.

From tomorrow, police officers in ten forces across the UK are taking part in a pilot that, for the first time, will see non-firearms trained officers able to use Tasers in a wider set of circumstances. Weve been doing lots of local radio, TV and newspaper interviews about it.

Amnestys concerned that the UK could go the way of the US, where Tasers have been used not just in life-threatening situations but for something as trivial as talking back to a police officer.

Since 2001 weve found that more than 220 people have died after being shot with Tasers in the US.  In many of these cases, the coroner listed the use of the Taser as a contributory factor or indeed a direct link to the death.

Theres a lot at stake here not just for those who might potentially find themselves on the receiving end of a Taser but for all of us who value the UKs traditional model of an unarmed police force.

Some good news. Kenneth Foster has had his death sentence in the US commuted at the eleventh hour. He hadnt carried out the killing but was driving a getaway car. Happily, we no longer have the death penalty in this country. Why are we so keen to emulate the US when it comes to law enforcement measures such as Tasers?

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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