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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NZ Complaints Authority To Talk To Police About Taser Data

February 17, 2010

Police Minister Judith Collins is not convinced there is a need for mandatory reporting of all taser use by police to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Ms Collins said police were trained properly in their use and had to follow guidelines.

Unlike other countries New Zealand police tasers had automatic sound and vision recording every time they were used to monitor behaviour, Ms Collins said.

Authority chairwoman Justice Lowell Goddard today told Parliament's law and order select committee that police did provide data about taser use but there was no requirement for them to do so.

She said a memorandum of agreement could be a way of improving that.

"I think we need to do that by agreement with police because I would not have jurisdiction to demand that they advise me every time they discharge a taser -- it would be done under a memorandum of agreement, but I think it's a matter probably we should discuss with police, so that we are able to say `yes we are monitoring this'."

However she said the authority's focus was on how they were used, rather than the fact they were in use.

Tasers were used in 124 incidents during 2009 and on nine occasions they were discharged.

There had been no complaints since July 2008 but there were three before then. Tasers were introduced in 2008.

Ms Collins said there already was mandatory reporting of all incidents causing death and serious harm, in addition anyone could complain if they felt a taser had been used or presented in an appropriate way.

Green MP Keith Locke said it would be good if every incident involving tasers was reported and not just cases when they were fired.

Mr Locke said the roll-out from 32 tasers in New Zealand to 680 presented a danger of over-use and the way to control that was to have a full reporting system.

He said the Canadian equivalent of the authority found when tasers became embedded in the police system there was inappropriate use of them to try to get compliance in violent situations.

With the increasing presence of tasers in New Zealand there could be a creep towards misuse.

"We don't want the public unnecessarily threatened by over-use of the taser."

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