A senior Kent police officer has defended the use of Tasers to Commons hearing prompted by the controversial Raoul Moat manhunt case.

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A senior Kent police officer has defended the use of Tasers to Commons hearing prompted by the controversial Raoul Moat manhunt case.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Adams gave evidence to the Home Affairs select committee on Tuesday, providing MPs with an insight into how and why police utilise the weapon.

The hearing also heard how staff from the Taser firm stripped of its licence over the Moat standoff in July will be working for the new company set up in its place.

Pro-Tect Systems broke its agreement with the Home Office when its late director of operations, Peter Boatman, decided to take the untested X12 weapons direct to police involved in the manhunt.

Officers discharged two Tasers at Moat - who later shot and killed himself - after the 37-year-old Newcastle man had shot his ex-girlfriend, her new partner and a police officer.

ACC Adams is responsible for the use of Tasers at Kent Police and, while admitting he has never fired one himself, told MPs the decision for officers to use them is never taken lightly.

'I think the important aspect of this is that every officer armed with a Taser is trained to use it,' he said. 'They have to justify their actions and their actions have to be proportionate to the threat they face. The level of scrutiny around this is that every time they fire a Taser they have to fill out a form which is then reviewed by our professional standards team.'

ACC Adams added that police also had support from the public regarding the use of Tasers, which were first introduced in the county in 2005.

'Eighty-five per cent of people we spoke to [during a public consultation] agreed Tasers were a useful way to dissuade violence,' he said. 'We had a clear mandate from the public.'

The select committee is chaired by MP Keith Vazand lists Rochester and Strood Tory MP Mark Reckless - who also sits on the board of the Kent Police Authority - among its members.

During Tuesday's hearing, Mr Vaz pointed to the findings of a five-year study by Australian authorities that revealed 85 per cent of Taser incidents in the state of Victoria involved a person with a mental illness.

When asked if he was concerned by the findings, ACC Adams replied: 'What's important is that we look at that in the context of UK policing and how we use our Tasers.

'I'm sure the Home Office will be doing all it can to see if any lessons can be learned from the experiences of the Victoria police and indeed what experiences we can share with them.'

Between December, 2008, and January, this year, there were 142 Taser-only deployments in Kent, with the weapon discharged just eight times. There are about 300 officers in the force trained to use the device.

Mr Vaz said: 'The recent case of Raoul Moat has brought to light the concerns surrounding the use of Tasers by the police - including their procurement and the training received by officers using the weapons. While Tasers are less lethal than firearms, they can still prove extremely dangerous and as such their use must be regularly scrutinised.'

On the day of the committee meeting a police Taser was lost in Lambeth, south London, after an officer left it on the roof of his police car before driving off.



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