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Justice Minister asked to look at defensive weapon

Minister of Justice asked to look at issue of defensive weapons

The Minister of Justice will consider a whole of government response to Fisheries officers call to be allowed to carry defensive weapons like pepper spray and batons.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope says he spoke with Cabinet colleagues on Monday about the issue.

"Fisheries officers are not alone as government employees with law enforcement functions that bring them in to situations of conflict and potential harm," said Mr Benson-Pope. "Currently the law allows only the Police to carry defensive weapons like pepper spray and batons.

"Any change from this position would be a serious step that needs to be considered carefully."

Mr Benson-Pope says Cabinet discussed the issue and it was agreed that the Minister of Justice would prepare a report for the Cabinet Policy Committee on the issue.

That report will take into account work already completed by the Ministry of Fisheries on this issue and will be prepared in consultation with the Ministers of State Services, Police, Fisheries, and the Attorney-General.

Mr Benson-Pope noted that a variety of measures had already been taken to limit the risk of assault to Fisheries officers and to enable them to avoid conflict. These include: $4.3m in the Budget for a national radio communications network recent increased staffing of remote stations developing a closer operational relationship with New Zealand Police better training of staff which includes identifying and reacting to risks to health and safety while undertaking enforcement activity.

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