Greens disturbed by news of Taser trials

News that New Zealand Police will trial Taser stun guns later this year is cause for alarm, Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“We should not have to resort to the use of such torture weapons in New Zealand,” Mr Locke says.

“Overseas, Tasers have been associated with many deaths. They are particularly dangerous to people with pre-existing heart conditions and other medical concerns. These risks have been documented by Amnesty International.

“As well as medical concerns, there is a strong risk that Tasers will be used excessively, as is the case in the United States. From this perspective, it is deeply concerning that Superintendent Tony McLeod said yesterday that Tasers can be useful against ‘unarmed’ offenders.

“Even in Britain, where Taser use is restricted to firearms officers only, we are seeing a ‘mission creep’ towards more general use.

“The Greens would like the Taser trial to be cancelled, but if it does go ahead it should at the very least be restricted to use only on armed offenders.

“Traditionally, New Zealand police have been more restrained in their use of violence than in some other countries, and this is to be celebrated. Having our regular police armed with 50,000-volt guns is definitely a move in the wrong direction,” Mr Locke says.