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Figures reveal police used stun guns on Norfolk and Suffolk mental health patients

PUBLISHED: 15:44 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:26 02 October 2018

File photo of a police officer demonstrating the use of a taser. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

File photo of a police officer demonstrating the use of a taser. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Police have used stun guns to subdue mental health patients in Norfolk and Suffolk hospitals, it can be revealed.

Nationally mental health patients had a stun gun drawn, aimed or fired at them almost 100 times in just over a year.

Between April 2017 and 2018 in Norfolk it happened three times, and in Suffolk once.

In Norfolk, in one situation one patient was holding a knife and another was prevented from self harming.

In another incident threats were made to staff and in another a taser was drawn to prevent harm to the patient and others.

In Suffolk, a taser was drawn when a man was reportedly holding a sword, to prevent harm to himself and others.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who campaigns on mental health, said: “In my view, it is inappropriate to use them in a mental health setting. These are hospitals and people who are there are patients, not criminals.”

The government said tasers should only be used as a last resort and a spokesman for the region’s mental health trust, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), said police were only called when a patient was thought to be a threat to themselves or others.

A police spokesman said officers were highly trained and any decision to use a taser would follow an assessment of the threat level and risk presented.

The spokesman added: “In cases such as these additional considerations will be made for staff or other patients and we continuously work with our partner agencies to help support and protect those most vulnerable members of our community.

“Taser is a very effective tool in resolving violent and threatening situations. It can be used to disarm and apprehend individuals and prevent them from hurting themselves or others. Often when someone is confronted with the possibility that a taser may be used against them, they are compliant without it having to actually be discharged.

“Norfolk and Suffolk Police adhere to strict guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in relation to training of staff and policy surrounding the use of taser and firearms.”

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