TASER use almost doubled in Wiltshire last year, Home Office figures show.

The number of times police officers drew the gun-like electrical incapacitation devices soared from 164 in 2017/18 to 309 last year.

But the weapons, which are carried by an increasing number of county officers, were only discharged on 24 occasions – down from 28 the year before.

READ MORE: Police in Hampshire drew their Tasers 200 times in just one year

Wiltshire Police said officers who carried the Taser undertook rigorous training. The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was unsurprising use was on the rise as more constables were issued with the weapons.

First trialled in 2003, the Tasers were rolled out across all UK forces by the early 2010s. Nationally, their use has boomed. Forces discharged the weapons on 2,700 occasions in 2018/19, the highest annual number recorded.

In Wiltshire, all police officers eligible to carry the Taser have been offered training in its use.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “It is important to clarify that these figures show that although the number of times a Taser was drawn has increased, the number of times they were discharged has actually fallen slightly.

“This shows that the mere presence of a Taser can be a highly effective deterrent when officers are dealing with a dangerous or violent offender.

“Protecting the public is paramount to Wiltshire Police and officers who carry a Taser undertake rigorous training in line with national standards and best practice. This includes effective decision making for its use based on circumstances faced in each individual case.”

"But the fact that the figure for instances where the Taser was drawn but not discharged remains so constant reaffirms how effective it can be in de-escalating situations.

"The red dot alone continues to be enough to diffuse the vast majority of incidents without the need to pull the trigger."

Use of Tasers by UK police forces is not universally popular.

A study by Cambridge University researchers suggested that officers equipped the electrical incapacitation devices were more likely to use force than their unarmed colleagues. Human Rights group Amnesty International has expressed concerns about Tasers being widely rolled-out, saying they should only be in the hands of a few very highly-trained officers.