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Taser ban for municipal police

Conseil d'Etat says local police do not have strong enough judicial controls to use stun guns

MUNICIPAL police have been barred from using Taser electronic stun guns by the Conseil d'Etat because there was not strong enough supervision.

However, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said a new law would be brought in to allow the police municipale to use Tasers again once they were better trained.

He said the decision of the government’s legal advisors did not question the effectiveness or usefulness of the Taser.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the use of the gun. The Conseil d'Etat said it had advantages, especially in a public security role, but its use had to be controlled and in proportion to the situation.

Amnesty International France welcomed the ban, saying Tasers were dangerous weapons and could cause health problems and even death.

The police municipal union said it was unhappy as it made them sub-policemen – no longer on an equal footing with the police nationale and the gendarmerie.

French police were first issued with Tasers in 2004 and there are now 4,615 in use throughout the country – with scores of towns having issued them to municipal police.

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.

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”.

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