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Municipal police Taser ban lifted

Nine-month ban on using the electronic stun gun is overturned - but final decision rests with individual local mayors.

MUNICIPAL police have been allowed to start using Taser electronic stun guns again, following a nine-month ban.

A new decree published in the Journal Officiel this morning sets out strict training requirements for any officer before they are allowed to carry a Taser.

Among the strengthened rules is the requirement for a small camera and microphone to be attached to officers' visors to record evidence of how the device is used. Each gun and bullet must carry a tracking number.

The final decision on whether to allow the stun guns rests with individual mayors in each commune.

Municipal police were banned from using Tasers last September when the Conseil d'Etat, the government's legal advisors, warned that officers were not being properly supervised or trained in how to use the device.

French police were first issued with the guns in 2004 and there are about 5,000 in use throughout the country. Most of them are with national police and the gendarmerie, but a handful of towns issued them to municipal police as well.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the use of the gun. In August 2008, a 26-year-old man was hurt when he was hit in the head by one of the Taser wires, which went 8mm into his skull.

Documents leaked from the Interior Ministry in November 2008 claimed that the Taser has been moved from the category of "non-lethal" weapon to "reduced lethality".

The police nationale issued a strong warning to officers in 2006 that the Taser should not be used on people with heart problems, pregnant women, those under the influence of drugs and anyone doused in inflammable liquid. It was banned for use against anyone driving a vehicle.

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