POLICE in Dorset drew Tasers hundreds of times in a year, figures show.

In a report published recently, the Independent Office for Police Conduct raised serious concerns around the unnecessary or unsafe use of the devices by forces across England and Wales, particularly against non-white or vulnerable people and children.

The report from the police watchdog made 17 recommendations to bodies including the Home Office, the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), calling for improvements to the national guidance, training, scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use.

The latest Home Office data shows that Dorset Police drew Tasers 206 times in the year to March 2020, though officers only discharged the electric shock weapons on 20 occasions.

The figures count the number of times officers involved in an incident used their Taser rather than the number of separate incidents.

Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi, the NPCC's lead for less lethal weapons, said that Tasers were critical in protecting both officers and the public facing violent situations.

She acknowledged improvements could be made but said officers were already well scrutinised when it came to using reasonable force, adding: "Policing is not easy and in many violent situations I believe Taser is a viable less lethal option for officers between using a baton and the lethal force of a gun.

"Officers are well trained to use the reasonable force given to them in law to confront the violence or threat of violence they are faced with when they protect the public and themselves."

The IOPC report warned that police risked losing public confidence if concerns around Taser use were not thoroughly addressed.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “Dorset Police has sound scrutiny in place to monitor any use of force including the drawing and/or discharge of Taser.

“Each use requires a dynamic decision made by the officer considering all the relevant information available at the time through their application of the national decision model (NDM) in line with training and authorised professional practice (APP).

“Any use of Taser is recorded including the officers rationale and this would include considerations such as vulnerability due to age or physical or mental ill health.

“The use of Taser would be recorded on body worn video and this is subject to dip samples to ensure compliance with the training and is independently scrutinised to ensure and use is proportionate and necessary in the circumstances.”