A HAMPSHIRE police boss has called on the government to fund the use of Tasers rather than leave individual forces to front the bill.

Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, John Apter, has written an open letter to the policing minister, MP Nick Hurd, urging the government to step up and avoid forces having to further deplete their funds.

Calling on central government to agree to the changes, the newly re-elected chairman said forces shouldn't have to decide whether between having Tasers or fewer staff.

He said: "It is wrong that local police forces are having to make decisions on whether to issue critical safety equipment such as a Taser because they don't have the funds available.

"I have been lobbying hard for all frontline officers in Hampshire Constabulary to have a Taser if they want it.

"The chief constable has listened and agreed to support this, but at a cost of £800,000.

"They have to pay for it by having fewer police officers or fewer staff.

"This is the stark reality facing forces, and it is wrong."

In response to being asked who should pay for Tasers, the Home Office said that it was for the chief officers to determine the number of devices needed, and the number of trained officers required. They also said that the police budget in Hampshire had increased by £9.7 million due to Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane's decision to use his council precept flexibility.

While the police budget has risen, Hampshire Constabulary still has to save £24 million over the next four years following a series of reductions from the government.

Also, PCC Michael Lane was told by a police and crime panel that the money had to be used on font line policing, instead of on his own office as he originally wanted.

Mr Lane had asked for an extra £440,000 for his office, more than half the cost of the Tasers.

John Apter added: "The government praise the police when it suits them, but my colleagues have had enough hollow platitudes.

"They want to see something meaningful. Words are cheap.

"The government has an opportunity to demonstrate that they take officer safety seriously and assist local forces who are struggling financially."

Hampshire Constabulary declined to issue a response to John Apter's letter.