AN OXFORD MP has questioned why police are still being secretive about their use of stun guns.

It comes after the Oxford Mail discovered officers fired the Taser weapons 41 times since 2001.

In 2009, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith questioned why Thames Valley Police did not tell the public about a Taser being fired in Greater Leys the previous year.

The incident was revealed by this newspaper after a request using the Freedom of Information Act.

Six years on, Mr Smith said he was surprised the police were still not making reports of Taser use public, after another FOI request revealed the electric shock weapons had been fired in Oxfordshire 41 times since 2011 – 29 in the past two years.

Mr Smith said: “The police ought to publish the statistics on the use of Tasers. It shows why we need to keep the FOI Act if we are still using it to get this sort of information.

“The public will understand why the police need to use Tasers and therefore the police should not need to act like there is anything to hide.”

Tasers fire needle-tipped barbs capable of delivering an electric shock which temporarily stuns suspects.

Thames Valley Police owns 326 and has authorised one in 10 officers to use them.

In January 2014, human rights group Amnesty International criticised the force for its increased use of the non-lethal weapons.

In the incident revealed by the Oxford Mail in 2009 a Taser was fired at a man in Cherry Close, Greater Leys.

It was only the third occasion the weapon had been used in the city after two men were shot in 2005.

Mr Smith said: “I support the police having the ability to immobilise people whose behaviour presents a real threat to other members of the public and other police officers.

“The public understands that too. They need reassurance that there is not a sort of creeping indiscriminate use of Tasers. But the numbers revealed by the Oxford Mail do not seem excessive.”

As well as the 41 times Tasers were fired since 2011, they featured another 221 times when police responded to incidents in the county.

They were drawn 76 times, aimed 13 times and the guns’ ‘red dot’ was focused on a suspect 126 times – the final step before the weapon is fired.

The ‘drive stun’ function was used six times, meaning the gun was discharged while being held against a suspect to cause them pain but not incapacitate them.

Thames Valley Police Federation spokesman Graham Smith said: “I am not concerned about the use of Tasers at all. A Taser is a legitimate tool to protect police officers and the public.

“I would like to see a roll-out of Tasers to all police officers.

“I have no real opinion [on police not making the incidents of Taser use public]. I am more concerned about the protection of frontline officers and protection of the public.”

Thames Valley Police Taser lead Chf Insp Pete Dalton said: “The increase in the use of Tasers is down to an increase in the amount of officers who are trained in their use.

“The use of Tasers is only considered in cases where it is necessary and proportionate to the behaviour the officer encounters.

“Every single use of Tasers is scrutinised by a Taser manager, and is recorded on a national Taser form, and there is senior officer oversight of any use of a Taser, this includes for drawn, aimed, red dot and when a Taser is fired.”