THAMES Valley Police officers discharged their Taser guns a total of 49 times last year, official figures have revealed.

However, the statistics show officers used their electronic stunning weapons nearly 20 per cent less than the year before.

Taser guns were fired successfully a total of 43 times, but there were four ‘drive stuns’ reported.

A drive stun is where officers hold the weapon to a suspect at point blank range and the trigger is pulled without firing any probes.

It causes discomfort but will not shock like a regular shot would.

There were two ‘angled drive stuns’, where the weapon is fired normally but one probe misses or the probes are too close together to cause a full stun.

Tasers were introduced into British policing in 2003 as a non-lethal alternative for officers who come face-to-face with potentially dangerous suspects.

Chief superintendent Stephen Williams, of the Joint Operation Unit, said: “Taser is an important part of policing which helps protect the public, protect those who are a danger to themselves and also protect our officers from harm.

“Only trained officers are permitted to carry Taser and its use is only considered where it is necessary and proportionate to the behaviour the officer encounters.

“All uses of Taser are scrutinised and recorded nationally.

“In the 427 cases where Taser was used in the Thames Valley in 2016, only 11 per cent of the cases ended up in Taser being fired. This is well below the national average of 17 per cent..

“This means that in the Thames Valley, Taser is being effectively used as a deterrent and in many incidents the physical act of drawing a Taser is enough for the person involved to comply.”