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Monday, October 04, 2010

"A serious over-reliance on Tasers within the West Australian Police Service"

October 4, 2010
ABC News

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has described vision of an unarmed man being tasered 13 times as damaging for the reputation of the state's police force.

The footage was released today as part of the Corruption and Crime Commission's (CCC) report on the use of Tasers by WA Police.

The report found a growing trend among police to use the weapon predominantly for compliance or on those resisting arrest.

In this instance, the man was surrounded by a group of police officers when he was tasered after refusing a strip search at the East Perth lockup in 2008.

Two officers were charged over the incident and police admit it was unacceptable.

Mr Barnett says the 2008 incident is disturbing and is a major breach of procedure.

"I think it's something that cannot be swept under the carpet or excused," he said.

"This is not a minor disciplinary action within the police service, this is a major breach of procedure."

WA Attorney-General Christian Porter has described the incident as outrageous.

"There is no intention on the part of the Government to defend the indefensible," he said.

The CCC has found there is a serious over-reliance on Tasers within the West Australian Police Service.

WA Police introduced Tasers in 2007 as an alternative to the use of handguns in dangerous situations.

The report noted the use of capsicum spray and handcuffs had dropped significantly since then and that Tasers had become the weapon of choice for officers.

The CCC found that while Taser usage on the whole was reasonable, there were concerns about the disproportionate use of Tasers against Indigenous people.

It has made 10 recommendations to police, including restricting the use of Tasers to dangerous situations in an attempt to minimise the misuse of the weapons.

Mr Porter says the Government will look at toughening the guidelines for Tasers to ensure the weapons are only used in dangerous and life-threatening situations.

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