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Greens want broader inquiry on pepper spray use

7 May 2006

Greens want broader inquiry on pepper spray use

The Green Party is calling for a broader general inquiry into Police use of pepper spray following the gratuitous pepper-spraying of a man on the ground outside Thursday's Fight-For-Life event.

The Police Commissioner has ordered an inquiry into the incident after television footage showed one police officer pepper-spraying the prone, handcuffed man while another stood by watching.

"The inquiry needs to go much broader than this single incident," Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

"The police appear to be resorting to pepper spray much too often. In March the Police Minister informed me that pepper spray had been used 2000 times during 2005."

[See answer to parliamentary Written Question 00854 (2006)]

"It is hard to imagine that there were 2000 occasions requiring such an excruciatingly painful and debilitating measure as pepper-spraying.

"The police need to check whether their guidelines are being interpreted too loosely, and whether pepper-spraying is being used by officers to impose their own justice.

"It is totally unacceptable for officers to go outside the law and met out punishment to offenders. That is the role of the courts.

"A broad review into pepper-spraying would be timely as the police are about to begin a controversial trial of the Taser stun gun, which shoots 50,000 volts into offenders.

The Green Party is opposed to the introduction of this new weapon into the police armoury.

"With the obviously liberal way in which officers are using pepper spray, the Greens are concerned that the Taser, an even more dangerous weapon, might also be used against many more people than originally envisaged," Mr Locke says.

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