MORE than 900 officers were assaulted in the last 12 months, prompting an urgent increase in the number of staff carrying Tasers.

There are currently 260 frontline officers trained to use the protective weapons, but a surge in brutality towards staff will see a 50 per cent rise from Thames Valley Police.

A national survey from the Police Federation of England and Wales found that 73 per cent of officers were single crewed 'often or always' in the past 12 months, leading to concerns over officer safety.

Thames Valley Police Federation chairman Craig O'Leary said it was 'imperative' to protect police and ensure they receive the best possible training.

He said: “An assault on a police officer is an assault on society and should never be viewed as just part of the job. I am delighted that the Chief Constable has taken this decision and the response from our members is very positive.

“Those wishing to carry Taser out on areas will have a greater chance of being able to do so.

“This is a really positive step not only for our police officers but also the public, so that we will have properly equipped officers to keep them safe out there on the streets.

“Tasers are such an important piece of equipment for police officers these days. Especially now that police officers are being spread even more thinly over police areas.”

Seven in 10 officers were verbally assaulted, more than half were verbally threatened and two in five became the victim of an unarmed physical attack at least once every month.

Thames Valley Police is set to Taser-train 130 response officers to tackle the surge in the assaults, a measure which has been welcomed by the federation.

Mr O'Leary added: "It enables them [officers] to resolve some quite high tension, high threat situations, both maintaining their safety, the safety of the suspect and the public at large. For us it’s a real coup getting this further increase of rollout of Taser to our frontline staff.

“I am really pleased that the chief has taken this step now and our members will see that as a really positive move forward.”