Tasers were first introduced by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in 2002 for use by the Special Emergency Response Team. Following a 12 month trial in 2007–08, Tasers were rolled-out to all first response officers throughout the state.
As at October 2012:
- 9257 officers were qualified to use a Taser, compared to 6561 in 2010 and 2568 officers in 2009
- the QPS had 2827 Tasers, compared to 1397 in 2010 and 1387 in 2009.
We work closely with the QPS to monitor Taser use and ensure that QPS policy, training and review practices are in line with international good practice. As part of our oversight role, we:
- review Taser use (this includes when a Taser is presented at someone or when it is deployed)
- make recommendations to improve policy, procedures and training materials
- monitor Taser-related complaints and investigations.
In 2009, the CMC and QPS conducted a joint review of Taser use following the death of a 39-year-old man in Brandon, North Queensland, after a Taser deployment. The review considered the QPS’s policy, procedures, training and monitoring practices relating to Taser use and made 27 recommendations. Most of the recommendations made in the review related to amending the QPS Taser policy to provide officers with clearer information about the threshold for Taser use and restricting officers’ use of Tasers in certain situations. In response to these recommendations, the QPS introduced the current Taser policy on 22 September 2009.
In 2010, the Queensland Government requested the CMC to independently evaluate the effects of the current Queensland Police Taser policy and new training initiatives.
In 2011, the CMC tabled a report and made 21 recommendations to further improve QPS policy, training and monitoring practices. Most of these recommendations related to minimising the potential risks associated with multiple and/or prolonged deployments, especially against medically vulnerable and at-risk groups, and improving the QPS’s internal monitoring and review practices.
Our evaluation of the effects of the introduction of the current Taser policy found that:
- the frequency of Taser uses had decreased considerably since the current policy was introduced
- most uses appeared appropriate in the circumstances, with no evidence of 'Taser creep' or widespread misuse.
Nevertheless, we were concerned that:
- a significant number of deployments involved multiple or prolonged discharges of Tasers
- uses following the introduction of the current policy were generally more likely to involve people from potentially 'medically vulnerable’ or ‘at-risk’ groups
- Indigenous people were over-represented as the subjects of Taser use
- although Taser-related injuries or medical complications were still relatively uncommon, the rate of injury had increased since the current policy was introduced.
In response to the recommendations made in our 2011 report, the QPS has updated their community engagement strategy in consultation with the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. They have also delivered a Taser Awareness training package for Police Liaison Officers and Mental Health workers.
- Our November 2012 statistical update reviews Taser use over the last two years (between 22 July 2010 and 30 June 2012), and compares it to data reported in the more comprehensive 2011 review, Evaluating Taser reforms. This update forms part of a further phase of Taser research and confirms that a number of areas of concern identified in our 2011 review persist.
- We continue to liaise with the QPS about the implementation of the recommendations and will undertake further research on police use of Tasers.
- The coronial findings into the death of Antonio Galeano at Brandon, North Queensland in 2009 were handed down on 14 November 2012 by Deputy Coroner Christine Clements.
Related documents and links
Media releases and statements
CMC releases evaluation of Taser use in Queensland (28.04.2011)
Queensland Police Service website: