Police chiefs back proposals to allow 'probationers' to carry Tasers
Chief constables want a ban on new recruits carrying Tasers to be lifted as forces confront rising levels of violent crime and an unprecedented terror threat.
Currently officers in their first two years of service cannot be equipped with the weapons.
But the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) announced on Tuesday that it was supporting proposals for selected "probationers" to be permitted to carry Tasers after completing a rigorous application and training process.
Senior officers believe the option should be available based on local assessments of threat and risk.
They are discussing the move with the Home Office, which will have the final say.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D'Orsi, the national policing lead for "less lethal" weapons, said: "Probationers are posted to the front line and they respond to the same calls as other colleagues.
"These calls range from dealing with vulnerable people in need of help to incidents of violence.
"We want to ensure that they have the right equipment to keep themselves, suspects and members of the public safe.
"As part of this, we want to give forces the opportunity to train their probationary officers to carry Taser."
The senior officer noted that at present, suitability to carry Tasers is determined by an officer's length of service rather than the role they carry out or skills they have.
Ms D'Orsi continued: "The diversity of our workforce has changed considerably and many of our probationers have professional and life skills from before they started their police career that demonstrates their capability and ability to carry Taser.
"Taser remains an emotive subject but, when compared with other use of force options such as the police baton, it is safer not only for police officers but also for the communities we work hard to protect.
"Police use of Taser is regulated by strict monitoring standards and is conditional on the completion of a robust training programme.
"We will continue to work with academics, medical experts and community groups on the issue of Taser, and I would like to thank them all for their work with us to date."
The possibility of expanding the pool of staff eligible for Taser training was first mooted last year as police leaders launched a review to examine what further measures may be needed to ensure officers can protect themselves and the public when faced with armed terrorists.
Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed to death in the Westminster attack, while an officer was hurt when he confronted the London Bridge terror gang with a baton.
In both cases the attackers were ultimately shot dead by armed police.
The NPCC said the number of officers in a force who are trained and equipped with Tasers will remain a decision for individual chief constables.
Under the plans, probationers would be able to choose whether they apply to be trained to use the devices.
Police chiefs are also planning to examine the possibility of training special constables to carry Tasers - a step that would also require Home Office authorisation.
The College of Policing said it is currently developing a "rigorous evidence-based application process" for selected probationers wishing to be issued with Tasers.
A spokesman added: "Those carrying Taser are required to pass the same high standard of training regardless of their rank or role and these standards will not change if the new process is adopted."