HAMPSHIRE police used Tasers against more children last year than almost any other force in the country.

New data published today shows the stun guns were drawn, aimed or fired in 15 incidents involving children, with only four other forces recording a higher figure.

The data has been compiled by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), part of the children’s charity Just for Kids Law.

Louise King, director of CRAE, said: “It is alarming to see continued high use of Tasers against children by police forces up and down the country, including Hampshire.

“Tasers can cause serious psychological suffering as well as physical harm and even fatalities.

“Children have told us how frightening and traumatising the threat of their use can be.

“The use of Tasers against children should be prohibited.

“As an immediate first step, police regulations, training and guidance must be revised to ensure this equipment is only ever used as an absolute last resort when all other options have been exhausted.”

According to the report Hampshire recorded the fifth highest rate of Taser use against children.

The Met tops the league table, with officers having used Tasers in 455 incidents involving children last year. Next comes Greater Manchester (49), Leicestershire (32) and Thames Valley (31).

Superintendent Annabel Berry of Hampshire police said: “An officer will only fire a Taser if there is an immediate risk to life or threat of serious injury to any members of the public or our officers.

“This is already stipulated in our regulations, training and guidance.In the vast majority of cases Taser is used effectively as a deterrent, preventing conflict and protecting the safety of the public we serve and our police officers.

“This is evident when looking at the 15 incidents identified in this report as a Taser was discharged during just one of those incidents.

“The other 14 incidents involved a Taser being drawn but not discharged.

“The majority of these incidents involved children aged 16 and 17 and none was younger than 14.

“Taser is only used by qualified officers and we track and assess its use very carefully, with officers using Body Worn Video as a further source of evidence.

“Officers are assessed every 12 months and whenever an officer makes a decision to draw a Taser this is reviewed by an Inspector to ensure it was used appropriately.”