Taser and pepper spray review ruled out by police

Taser gun Acpo said all equipment used by police forces was approved by the government's centre for applied science and technology

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The Association of Chief Police Officers says it will not review Tasers or pepper spray use at this stage despite three deaths in eight days.

Acpo, which represents police chiefs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said it would wait until investigations and inquests had been completed.

The three deaths occurred after arrests in Bolton, Cheshire and Cumbria during which Tasers or spray were used.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating.

On Tuesday, a 53-year-old man, named locally as Philip Hulmes, died after he was tasered by police at his home in Bolton.

When officers broke in they were threatened by Mr Hulmes, who had stab wounds to his stomach, a spokesman said. He was taken to hospital but died shortly afterwards.

The case was referred to the IPCC, the police watchdog.

The incident in Bolton came as an inquiry was launched by the IPCC into the death of Jacob Michael, 25, who had been restrained using pepper spray in Widnes.

The IPCC is also probing how bodybuilder Dale Burns, 27, died after being tasered several times at his flat in Cumbria last week. Another officer used pepper spray during the arrest.

'Disturbing trend'

Campaigners have warned of a "disturbing trend" over fatalities from police confrontations.

Campaign group Inquest said there had already been five deaths in circumstances that involved police use of force excluding firearms this year - compared with four throughout 2010.

"The shocking reports about three tragic deaths in eight days following the use of force by police highlights Inquest's growing concern about deaths following contact with the police," said Helen Shaw, a spokeswoman for the organisation.

She said the police did not seem to have learnt the lessons from previous deaths.

"Whilst we await the outcome of the inquests and investigations into these recent deaths, it is imperative that the police are reminded that they cannot act with impunity," she added.

Acpo in Scotland said it had no plans to review the use of Tasers or pepper spray.

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