Police in England and Wales are to be issued with an upgraded Taser gun called the X2. This will replace the X26, which is no longer being produced, and will have a second cartridge in case the first one fails, as well as a mode that enables officers to fire a warning shot.
The new Taser, authorised by police minister Brandon Lewis, followed demands from the National Police Chiefs Council.
"The decision to authorise the Taser X2 follows stringent consideration of strategic, ethical, operational and societal issues. Tasers are an important tactical option for the police, particularly in potentially violent situations where other tactics have been considered or failed," Lewis said.
Home Office Minister Amber Rudd said the introduction of the X2 would coincide with new rules that all police forces must record the age and ethnicity of people hit by Tasers.
"These new rules will introduce unprecedented transparency to this important subject and reinforce the proud British model of policing by consent," said Rudd, according to the BBC.
Since its introduction in 2004, the Taser or stun gun has been linked to at least 19 deaths in the UK, including that of former footballer Dalian Atkinson in 2016. The Home Office admits "a small number of deaths and serious injuries" associated with Taser use but that the number is small. The majority of police officers as well as the general public support their use.
However, some legal experts say there should have been more consultation before introducing the upgrade. Lawyer and advocate Sophie Khan said there was a grave risk there would be more deaths with the X2.
"The clear message from the Home Office and home secretary in authorising this is that they do not care about the safety of the public," said Khan.