ALL Hampshire police officers who are in need of a Taser will be allowed to carry one – the county's top policing boss has announced.

Hampshire Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney confirmed the decision to officers yesterday afternoon.

But she said that they would still require a "clear operational need" in order to carry one.

The chief constable also reinstated that the decision to carry a Taser was optional.

She said: "The force has always been at the forefront of equipping its officers with the best technology to enable them to do their job.

"Hampshire was the first force to issue Body Worn Video to all frontline officers and this latest move will see us continue that tradition.

"It is our ambition that anyone with a clear operational need, who wants to, has the support of their line management and is able to carry a Taser, should have access to one."

Currently, Tasers are only available to a small group of officers, including the county's firearms unit and some members of the force's response and patrol team.

Around 300 officers across the county are Taser trained.

But Hampshire Constabulary say this could be doubled, to more than 600, as a result of this announcement.

Chief constable Pinkney said: "This will take time, and we are now working up a plan to deliver this starting with a doubling of our Taser trained officers.

"This is one of the largest deployments of Taser in the country.

"Taser is only used by qualified officers and we track and assess its use very carefully, with officers using Body Worn video as a further source of evidence.

"The data that we are required to collect is published and provides confidence that Taser is used responsibly."

She added: "Firing a Taser is a last resort. In the vast majority of cases Taser is used effectively as a deterrent, preventing conflict and protecting the safety of the public we serve and police officers."

Hampshire Police Federation Chairman, John Apter, who has been a vocal in his support for officers carrying Tasers, said: "This is fantastic news, it’s something we’ve been working hard on with the Chief Constable and her team for some time.

“Officer safety is so important to me, and I couldn’t be more proud that as a result of our work, our officers will be provided with this essential piece of equipment.

“I want to place on record my thanks to CC Olivia Pinkney who has listened to my concerns and acted on them.”