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Jul 11 2011

Met Police Taser 82-year old Northolt Resident

Just over the boundary from South Harrow, but worth a mention.  The BBC is reporting today that an 82-year old man was hospitalised for days after being Tasered by a Metropolitan Police officer.

A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electric current to disable someone temporarily, but disrupting the electrical signals in the body, causing strong involuntary muscle contractions. Let’s be clear: these are not toys. They are controlled under the Firearms Act 1968, and possession by a member of the public is an offence, carrying a maximum sentence of ten years in prison or an unlimited fine. The United Nations has already condemned them as tools of torture, and Amnesty International has reported cases where they believe that their use amounted to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment which is absolutely prohibited under international law.”

The Taser fires two small dart-like electrodes, which stay connected to the main unit by conductive wire as they are propelled by small compressed nitrogen charges similar to some air gun or paintball marker propellants. The air cartridge contains a pair of electrodes and propellant for a single shot and is replaced after each use. Tasers primarily function by creating neuromuscular incapacitation, which means that it interrupts the ability of the brain to control the muscles in the body. This creates an immediate and unavoidable incapacitation that is not based on pain and cannot be overcome.

But back to the 82-year old. After being arrested, and whilst at Acton police station, he complained of pain, and was taken to hospital by ambulance – all, apparently, standard procedure.

It’s unclear how an 82-year old – a pensioner, of course – managed to avoid being brought under control by one or more well-trained, pepper-spray-wielding, and presumably experienced, police officers. We don’t expect any more news soon, as the Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an investigation into the incident.

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