Police in Wiltshire recorded drawing Tasers on children on dozens of occasions last year, figures reveal.

Officers reported firing the electrical weapons in five of those cases, according to official Home Office data.

Wiltshire Police said Tasers were a safe alternative to a police firearm.

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England said the recorded increase in use of Tasers against children by police in England and Wales is alarming and called for a ban on their use on young people.

Home Office figures showed Wiltshire Police drew Tasers on under-18s on 31 occasions in 2019-20, up from 24 the previous year.

The figure counts the number of times each officer involved in an incident drew the device rather than the number of separate incidents or how many children were involved. The age recorded is that perceived by the officer.

Across 43 police forces, Tasers were used on children on 2,818 occasions in 2019-20, up from 1,700 the previous year.

Louise King, director of the alliance said: “The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that monitors the UK’s child rights obligations has been very clear that Tasers should be prohibited on children, and yet their use continues to increase at an alarming rate year on year.

“Even if a Taser is not actually fired, being threatened with one is still extremely frightening for children.”

Overall, Wiltshire Police officers recorded using some form of force on children on 466 occasions last year. In 83 per cent of occasions it was some form of restraint, which can include handcuffing, restraining someone on the ground, or using specialist equipment to reduce the movement of their arms and legs.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “It is important to clarify that these figures show that although there were 31 occasions where a Taser was drawn against an under-18, a Taser was only discharged on five occasions. This shows that a Taser can be a highly effective deterrent when an officer is responding to a volatile or dangerous situation, and is a non-lethal and safe alternative to a police firearm.

“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.

“We continually monitor and review incidents involving Taser in Wiltshire to ensure the use is appropriate and proportionate.”

Matt Twist, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for self-defence and restraint, said force was “rarely used in the vast majority” of officers’ interactions with the public.

He added: “When it is necessary to use force – for example, when someone poses an immediate danger to others or themselves – it is used proportionately and lawfully.

“Most commonly, officers only use force to protect themselves from attack, which has been an increasing concern for chiefs in the last year as assaults against officers have increased.”