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Just unholstering a taser is enough to de-escalate potentially violent situations in 85 per cent of cases, Met commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe claimed yesterday.

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In response to a question from a member of the public on a live webchat yesterday, the commissioner said tasers had been discharged less frequently over the last year despite more being available, adding that in the vast majority of cases just their presence is enough of a deterrent.

He said: “In 85 per cent of cases [in 2012] the presence of a taser (being drawn) was sufficient to bring a potentially violent situation to a swift conclusion. Even though we do have more tasers available they have been discharged less than in 2011.”

Mr Hogan Howe’s comments follow recent criticism of the Met for tasering innocent bystanders, which has led many to doubt whether equipping more police with them is prudent.

Last September a 17-year-old was tasered when he became trapped in the midst of a stand-off between police and a gang of armed robbers outside a jewellery shop in Turnpike Lane, Haringey.

The incident left the boy unconscious and his mother subsequently hit out at the officers involved. She said her son was clearly distinguishable from the crew of balaclava-clad robbers, as he was not wearing one, and that onlookers had repeatedly stressed to police that the teenager was not part of the group.

During the webchat with members of the public, the Met Commissioner also revealed that 59 Met officers had been dismissed last year for criminal activity or serious misconduct.

And in answer to one strident questioner who linked illegal minicabs to rape, Mr Hogan-Howe said the Met was not ignoring the problem and about 700 illegal minicab touts were arrested each year.

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