An MP has urged police to be cautious about handing out controversial stun guns which have been linked to 300 deaths.

West Midlands Police are to receive Taser guns capable of delivering a 50,000 volt electric shock.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary and MP for Redditch, said the guns would replace conventional firearms and were designed to keep officers safe when they faced the threat of violence.

But human rights group Amnesty International has claimed the weapons were open to abuse and have been linked to 320 deaths in north America.

Labour MP Lynne Jones (Selly Oak) said she was concerned that arming police with Tasers could undermine their relationship with the public.

She said: “The more we have a perception that the police are armed with potentially dangerous instruments, it effects the relationship between the public and the police.”

But she added: “It is better than using live ammunition, and if Tasers are used as a replacement for firearms then it may be a welcome development.”

Police across the country are to receive 10,000 Taser guns after pilot schemes in 10 forces were judged a success.

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (Yardley) welcomed the announcement, saying: “I would rather be subdued with a Taser than a truncheon.”

Amnesty International spokesman Oliver Sprague said: “We believe the Home Secretary should urgently review this decision and ensure that Tasers only end up in the hands of a small number of fully-trained officers capable of making the potentially-fatal decision over whether to fire 50,000 volts into a person’s body.”

Ms Smith said: “I am proud that we have one of the few police services around the world that do not regularly carry firearms and I want to keep it that way.

“But everyday the police put themselves in danger to protect us, the public.

“They deserve our support, so I want to give the police the tools they tell me they need to confront dangerous