POLICE in Wigan have reached for their Taser stun guns more than 250 times in the last four years - but have only fired them on five occasions.
New figures show that local bobbies have deployed their “last resort” stun guns - which administer targets with a paralysing electric shock - 259 times since January 2009.
On 96 occasions officers have simply drawn their Taser in a bid to pacify a perceived threat, but on 63 occasions the weapons have been aimed directly at the target.
At other call-outs police have used Taser methods known as “arcing”, “red dotting” and “drive stun”.
Arcing, which refers to the Taser barbs being prepared to fire, has been used three times between January 2009 and the end of March this year.
The controversial methods of red dotting and drive stun refer to the projection of a red dot onto the target to show where they would be hit and the holding of the Taser against the target - without firing the barbs - to cause pain without incapacitating.
Red dotting has been used by Wigan police 15 times in the last four years and drive stun 77 times. To date this year, Wigan officers have used the drive stun method 14 times, the red dot method twice and the arcing method just once.
They have also drawn their Taser weapons three times and have aimed them directly at targets on eight occasions.
Last month it emerged that a 12-year-old girl in neighbouring St Helens had been shot by police with a Taser in the summer of 2011 - despite fears the weapons can cause fatal heart attacks.
And this week a 23-year-old man died after being shot with a Taser by police in Gorton, Greater Manchester.
In America, it has been reported that more than 500 people hav e died after being shocked by a Taser and, in many cases, coroners have declared the use of Taser a contributory factor.