A second force will allow every frontline officer who wants a Taser to carry one on duty amid concerns about the risks of modern policing.
Durham Police’s new chief constable Jo Farrell said her staff will be issued with new X2 Tasers if they want one, and they will undergo training on using the non-lethal weapons.
It follows an announcement by Northamptonshire Police’s chief constable Nick Adderley that every frontline officer in his force could have a Taser, because the risks they face had risen “dramatically”.
Tasers work by delivering an electric charge which leaves a suspect temporarily incapacitated so they can be restrained.
Over the coming year, Durham will bring in the new X2 model to replace the original X26 which has been used for the past 14 years.
The X2 is more powerful and can fire a second cartridge if the first misses.
She said: “Sadly, there are situations in which police officers need to take immediate action to subdue violent suspects to protect the public.
“Tasers allow us to do so swiftly and safely, without causing lasting injury and are an extremely effective means of dealing with the many dangerous situations officers find themselves in.
“Too often our officers are subject to assaults in the line of duty, simply for doing their job.
“We need to make sure that our officers have the tools they need to protect the public and protect themselves”.
When Durham introduced Tasers in 2005, they were issued to a handful of authorised firearms officers.
Andy Jackson, chairman of Durham Police Federation, said: “I strongly support the wider roll-out of Taser to all frontline officers should they wish to be equipped with it.
“Taser is an extremely effective means of dealing with the many dangerous situations that officers often face on the streets and is a less lethal option than more conventional firearms.
“In a number of cases where Taser is drawn, it is not fired as the deterrent is enough, which helps protect communities as well as protecting officers from assaults.”
The Home Office said it was up to chief constables to decide how many officers should be deployed with Tasers.
A spokesman said 20,000 more officers will be recruited over the next three years and it will work to ensure they are properly resourced.
He said: “Taser is an important tactical option for officers facing violent situations, and it is for chief officers to determine the number of devices and specially trained officers they need.”