TASERS are being used more frequently in South Wales, new figures reveal.

The Home Office has provided funding for an additional 10,000 police officers to carry the weapon and police chiefs insist that it is effective at de-escalating dangerous situations.

Officers drew their Tasers 467 times in 2018-19, the latest Home Office statistics show – up from 350 the year before.

During these incidents, electric shocks were discharged on 55 occasions - 12 per cent of the time.

Officers must decide whether deploying a Taser, which delivers a high-voltage electric shock, is legal, proportionate and necessary in a situation.

The device is also used by officers to deter suspects before an electric shock is triggered by projecting a red warning dot.

UK police forces first trialled Tasers in 2003, with a full roll-out completed a decade later.

Since then, use of the weapon has reached a record high in England and Wales.

The Home Office says the rise may reflect an increase in the number of incidents which have the potential for conflict.

The figures also show that South Wales Police officers used force against suspects on 21,212 occasions in 2018-19.

This includes forcibly handcuffing someone, striking a suspect with a baton or using pepper spray.

Across England and Wales, there were 428,000 recorded incidents in which a police officer used force.

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael, has said:

“The use of a Taser has to be seen as a means of preventing injury – not just against police officers but also against members and individuals who are being restrained.

“The use of Tasers is carefully controlled, and I have personally looked at the way in which Tasers are used by South Wales Police as part of my role in holding the Chief Constable to account for operational policing.

“As a result, I am very confident that the use of Taser by our officers is proportionate and frequently prevents harm.

“Very often, the Taser doesn’t need to be used and its very presence is enough to deter an offender.

“In the overwhelming majority of cases the prevention of violence comes from measures short of discharging an electric shock such as projecting a laser sight’s red dot on to the suspect.

“All deployments must be justifiable, proportionate, lawful, and necessary, and enormous care is taken when training officers who carry Taser to stress their responsibilities.”