You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Australia: Police work on national Taser guidelines after Sydney death

October 7, 2010 (where it's tomorrow already down-under)
The Australian

NATIONAL rules for the safer use of Taser stun-guns are being drawn up by state and territory police commissioners.

The federal government is pushing for a standard approach to policing with the electro-shock weapon, which was linked to the death of a Sydney man this week.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said yesterday the Australian New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency was drawing up national guidelines for Taser use, to present to the nation's police ministers early next year.

"The Gillard government is keen to ensure that the highest standards are achieved and that all jurisdictions agree to work together to achieve nationally consistent standards on the use of electronic shock devices," he said.

Police unions, too, are drawing up their own version of national guidelines to present to their police commissioners.

Police Federation of Australia chief executive Mark Burgess said national rules would protect the public as well as police. "You won't have conflicting issues from state to state," he said yesterday.

Australia's police forces have purchased nearly 7000 Tasers -- which can deliver a 50,000-volt shock -- in the past three years.

But rules over their use vary dramatically from state to state, with only Western Australia, Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory issuing them to frontline police.

The use of Tasers is restricted to specialist police units in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT.

In South Australia, the weapon is being rolled out with one for each police car.

Mr Burgess said all frontline police should have access to Tasers, to use under threat of "serious violence". He said they should not be restricted to life-or-death situations.

"It's about when someone is threatened, be it a police officer or a bystander or a person about to inflict self-harm," he said. "Do people expect police to get punched up first before they use these things? They shouldn't have to."

Australian Council of Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman called for national rules to prevent police abusing the use of Tasers.

"State and territory police use and misuse it, and there's no federal oversight," he said. "Police ministers will go national when they want to increase their powers, and now it's time for national controls to be introduced to prevent the growing misuse of Tasers."

No comments: