Thirty police officers in Avon and Somerset have been specially trained to use Taser stun guns as part of a 12-month pilot scheme set up by the Home Office.
This weekend will see the officers join 10 other forces across the country taking part in the trial, which will enable non-firearms unit officers to be trained to use the weapons for the first time.
All 30 officers have been selected from the force’s support groups which specialise in dealing with conflict situations and violent or potentially violent offenders.
Superintendent Adrian Coombs, who is in charge of the pilot, said: “Tasers have proved excellent weapons for officers faced with violent offenders threatening to harm themselves, officers or other members of the public.
“The officers we have selected are already trained to an advanced level in conflict management and, as with any firearms incident, still have to get authorisation from a senior officer to draw their Taser,” he added.
The Taser is a hand-held device which discharges an electrical current of up to 50,000 volts to temporarily incapacitate a person.
The increase in the use of the weapon in the UK comes at a time when police in New Zealand are ditching Tasers after a year-long trial.