Taking aim: PC Brian MacNab, of Bermuda Police’s firearms unit, fires a test shot using the Taser stun gun. One in three officers is to be armed with the weapon. *Photo supplied by Bernews
Taking aim: PC Brian MacNab, of Bermuda Police’s firearms unit, fires a test shot using the Taser stun gun. One in three officers is to be armed with the weapon. *Photo supplied by Bernews
Just the sight of a Taser can diffuse dangerous and violent situations, say British police who have used them for years.

Chief Inspector Kevin Wellens, of Merseyside ­Police, told the Bermuda Sun the stun guns are an very effective way of ­reducing extreme anti-­social behaviour.

His comments came after Commissioner Michael ­DeSilva announced plans for one in three of his ­officers to be armed with Tasers.

Firearms officers will ­patrol the streets this week with the weapons, which fire barbs into a person's body to deliver a disabling electronic current.

Target

Ch. Insp. Wellens said the "red dot" effect, which ­occurs when the weapon is pointed at a target, was ­often enough to subdue troublemakers.

He added: "Since we have had Tasers we have seen a reduction in injuries, not just to officers but also the people being arrested.

"In some circumstances they have saved lives or ­prevented serious injuries to people who attempt to self-harm. It's very much an injury reduction tool on both sides."

Merseyside Police were part of a pilot project in the U.K. where firearms ­officers from 10 forces were given Tasers.

The scheme was such a success that it was rolled out across the country.

Just last August, Merseyside Police introduced plans to arm a third of its frontline police officers with Tasers.

Ch. Inps. Wellens said: "People who would usually fight or ­resist arrest do not do that when confronted with a Taser. If they do they get detained with minimal or no injury at all.

"Once people recognize a Taser they do not enter into conflict with officers.

"We have seen the benefits in a number of tactical situations, like on the streets at night time where people want to fight each other or confront officers. It can also be useful in ­disarming someone armed with a weapon or a knife in a more confined environment. The pilot scheme showed that there was no death or serious injury caused by Taser. In most cases, simply producing the Taser or pointing the red dot is ­deterrent enough.

"We have found that it is only fired in around a third of the occasions it is drawn.

Ch. Insp. Wellens admitted the role of Tasers in tackling gun crime and gangs is more limited.

He said: "A Taser has a role to play in firearm ­incidents alongside the ­other options open to armed police.

"But it not the kind of weapon to deal solely with a firearm incident because it only has a limited range.

"It is probably more of relevance and use to officers dealing with threats, knives or hand-to-hand combat.

"A Taser is not the sole solution to gun crime or people carrying guns."

Camera

On Wednesday, Commissioner DeSilva officially ­announced plans to bring Tasers to Bermuda.

He explained the weapons are fitted with a camera that recorded the entire ­incident from the moment the device was drawn.

He said: "Given the ­increase in armed operations we are conducting, I am ensuring we take all steps possible to make the use of police firearms a last resort and only when it is absolutely necessary.

"The introduction of the Taser device could potentially save the life of a ­person who might otherwise force a firearms confrontation with an armed police officer."

The total cost of the Tasers and officer training will be $150,000.