Tasers used on children in UK
Tasers used on children in UK (Reuters) Reuters

Tasers are being used by UK police almost every day on children, some as young as 11 years old, according to official Home Office figures.

Since tasers were cleared for use on under 18s in 2007, their use on the young in England has grown from 29 in 2007 to 323 in 2011 - equivalent to almost one child every day.

The use of tasers on adults almost doubled between 2009 and 2011, according to Home Office statistics. This year two officers were sacked after they repeatedly used tasers on a man in Liverpool who had been wrongly arrested.

Amnesty International has reported that the death toll from tasers in the US now stands at 500 and has called for tasers to not be used on children, pregnant women and elderly people.

Sophie Khan, director of advice service Police Action Centre, is one of the most vocal critics of the use of tasers on young children. "The taser has the potential to cause serious injury and it is hoped that lessons can now be learnt, not just by Merseyside Police, but all police forces, that the taser is not a tool, " said Khan.

In response, the Home Office has said that the use of tasers has been thoroughly tested in trials and subjected to medical assessments, and that the use of tasers is governed by strict guidelines. It added that the chance of serious injury or death from being tasered was very low. UK tasers emit 50,000-volt charges.

In one high-profile case, a 12-year-old girl from St Helens was tasered, and police admitted that there had been similar cases involving children as young as 11.

The Home Office information about the use of tasers was obtained under a Freedom of Information request. It does not specify if the tasers were actually fired or used as a deterrent. Even the use of the weapon's laser red dot targeting has been condemned as threatening by critics.