NT Ombudsman Peter Shoyer says the police use of tasers on children should not banned, but used with caution. Picture: ELLEN SMITH
NT Ombudsman Peter Shoyer says the police use of tasers on children should not banned, but used with caution. Picture: ELLEN SMITH

Ombudsman okays taser use on children

THE use of tasers on children should not be banned but used with caution, NT Ombudsman Peter Shoyer has said.

Mr Shoyer's report comes after police used a taser on a 12-year-old boy who was trying to evade arrest in November 2016.

The boy was a passenger in a stolen car when it pulled into a Bakewell petrol station.

The boy was tasered by a police officer as he attempted to run away from the car, from a distance of three metres.

National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell called for the use of tasers on children to be banned and the Darwin Children's Court found the officer's actions were "improper", however an NT Police internal investigation found the officer at no fault.

NT ombudsman Peter Shoyer reviewed the incident, and the use of tasers in general, and found the "risk of death" was not high, and that "given the height and build of the (child), the rapidly developing situation and the seconds available to make an assessment, there were not sufficient grounds for (the officer) to have acted on the basis that the complainant was a 'young child'".

"But the severity of the potential outcome is extreme. I conclude that a rigorous and cautionary approach to taser use must prevail," Mr Shoyer said in his report.

Mr Shoyer handed down nine recommendations, which have all been accepted by NT Police.

The recommendations included NT Police "carefully consider the question of whether tasers should be used on children and, if they continue to be used, consider the inclusion of taser use on a child as a special circumstance".

They also suggested NT Police "maintain a system for regular monitoring and reporting on taser use to a senior executive officer" and review specific restrictions on whether tasers should be used on fleeing suspects.



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