TASERS were used by police officers in the Thames Valley 208 times last year, new figures show.

The statistics released today by the Independent Police Complaints Commission show the number of incidents of taser deployment has more than trebled nationally in the last four years.

They showed the total number of times they were used in the Thames Valley Police area was the 13th highest of the 43 police authorities in England and Wales.

But the figures also stated a taser was used five times per 100 officers - making it amongst the lowest average use rates in the country.

The Metropolitan Police force used tasers the most frequently but it also had a relatively low average use rate of seven per 100 officers.

Staffordshire Police had the highest average use, with tasers being deployed 626 times at an average of 33 times per 100 officers.

Between 2009 and 2013, taser uses nationwide have increased from 3,128 to 10,380 - an increase of 232 per cent. Complaints about their usage have increased from 44 to 137 in an increase of 211 per cent. Proportionally the number of complaints per case is still one per cent.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said: "The IPCC has always accepted that there are legitimate reasons for using taser in policing and that it can be a valuable tool in assisting police officers to manage difficult and challenging situations.

"However, in light of the significant increase in taser use, it is important to ensure that the device is being used appropriately and not as a default choice where other tactical options, including communication, could be effective. For that reason, it is very important that each individual use can be justified and that forces closely analyse the extent and type of use."

Thames Valley was one of five forces to trial the use of tasers before they were introduced nationally in 2003.