Tasers may be used more - expert

  • 01/08/2015
Police (File)
Police (File)

Tasers may end up being used more often because they're seen as safe way to control potential offenders, says an expert.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced the move yesterday, saying about 5500 staff will have improved access to the 50,000-volt stun-guns which are currently stored in locked boxes in cars.

"The Taser is one of the least injury-causing tactical options available when compared with other options, with a subject injury rate of just over one per cent for all deployments," he said.

But Dr Anthony O'Brien, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland's school of nursing, said careful monitoring would be needed.

"The perception of the Taser as safe may lead to increased use," he said,

In many instances, people with mental illness and addiction who hadn't necessarily committed a crime drew police attention - and Taser use in these sorts of situations needed to be watched closely, he said.

Professor James Ogloff, the director of Swinburne University of Technology's Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, also urged police to make sure Tasers were only used when other less serious options had failed.

"Monitoring of the use of Tasers needs to be done to ensure that the general use of force by police does not widen," he said.

He noted that Tasers could cause pain, muscle pain and anxiety to the target, but it was rare that there were any long-term physical effects.

In March, a Hawke's Bay man died after being Tasered twice.

It was the first death involving a Taser since New Zealand police started trialling the stun guns in 2006/07.