New two-shot Taser X2 weapons for England and Wales police

Mark White, Home Affairs Correspondent

The Home Secretary has approved controversial plans to issue police officers in England and Wales with a new and more powerful Taser stun gun.

Amber Rudd has given the go ahead for chief constables to begin issuing their officers with the X2 stun gun, which has a second shot in case the first should fail.

The weapon also has an electric crackle warning noise and pulsating light to try to encourage a suspect to surrender before being fired upon.

But critics have called for a review of the use of Tasers after a string of recent deaths related to the weapon. Both the new and old models give a 50,000-volt electric shock.

At least 11 deaths in the UK have been linked to the use of Tasers, but experts have been unable to say whether the stun gun was directly responsible for any of those deaths.

In August 2016, footballer Dalian Atkinson died after a Taser was used during a confrontation with officers in Telford in the West Midlands.

A formal investigation is still to determine the exact cause of death and whether the use of the stun gun played any part.

Authorities have been examining the X2 Taser for a number of months to determine whether it would be a suitable replacement for the X26, which has been used by police officers across the UK for the past 13 years.

Police chiefs claim the X26 is becoming increasingly obsolete and forces are struggling to find spare parts for the weapons when the break down.

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has called for all those who want to carry Taser to be issued with the stun gun.

The Federation has welcomed the move to use the latest model, amid concerns over the effectiveness of the existing weapon.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, told Sky News that the previous make of Taser was "broken down, had its day".

He added: "We've got to keep pace with technology - it's one of the constant failings in the police service that we don't keep pace with technology.

"The only other thing I would say is that these things don't come cheap and I would have to ask the Government...where is the money going to come from?

"You say this is a safer, better device, you've said we can use it, how are we going to find the resources to buy this kit?"

Officers believe the big advantage of the new stun gun is its ability to fire two charges without reloading.

It is common for the wired barbs fired by the guns not to connect properly with a suspect.

Currently, officers have to replace the stun gun's cartridge in order to re-fire the weapon after a failed connection.