UK

Tasers Used By Police Against Children Rise Six-Fold

06/03/2014 08:49 GMT | Updated 06/03/2014 08:59 GMT

Taser use against children by the Metropolitan Police has risen nearly six-fold over four years, campaigners have revealed.

Stun guns were used on children 131 times between 2008 and 2012 across all but nine London boroughs, rising from nine in 2008 to 53 in 2012, the Children's Rights Alliance for England said.

The figures, obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the CRAE, were published as part of a wider report into children and human rights in London.

taser

Taser use against children by the Metropolitan Police has risen nearly six-fold

Wide differences were revealed between the use of Tasers in different London boroughs.

CRAE director Paola Uccellari said: "Children living in the same city are experiencing vastly different treatment, depending on where they happen to grow up, and this is not always linked to obvious explanations such as high child poverty or crime rates.

"For example, 70% of the occasions on which children in London were Tasered by police occurred in just a quarter of London boroughs.

"This suggests that different approaches at the local level can have a big impact on many of the human rights issues facing children in London."

In Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham children were Tasered 51 times between 2008 and 2012, accounting for 40% of the total.

In 2008, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the authorisation of Taser guns for police officers in England and Wales, and specifically on their authorisation for use on children.

The UN committee called for Tasers to be classified as weapons and to be subject to rules and restrictions on their use.

Elsewhere in the report, CRAE discovered a 66% drop in use of stop and search powers against children between 2009 and 2013.

However, use of the powers again varies greatly from borough to borough, with 91 children stopped on average per week in Southwark, compared to 19 a week in Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Hillingdon and Sutton.

In addition, children in London are imprisoned at almost twice the rate of children in England as a whole, CRAE said.

Within London, children in Lambeth are 30 times more likely to find themselves in prison than those in Richmond upon Thames.