AUSTRALIA – Canberra: Union might back call for prison Tasers (2011-10-14)

Published on October 20 2011 by admin

[[SUMMARY /COMMENTS: The Community and Public Sector Union will consider recommending ACT prison officers be armed with Tasers following calls for the stun guns to be used in every correctional jurisdiction. Prison guards, members of the civil service union, are calling for this move: “‘There is universal support for the introduction of Tasers into jails, every prison officer understands. We have our members dealing with dangerous individuals, who are coming off drugs.” but “an assessment into their potential use in the ACT’s jail would have to be completed before the union officially called for their introduction. ”This is something we would like to discuss, we have had members assaulted in jails,” a spokesman of the public sector union said. A difficult dilemma for the general union.]]

BY Henriette Cook

The Community and Public Sector Union will consider recommending ACT prison officers be armed with Tasers following calls for the stun guns to be used in every correctional jurisdiction.

Members and delegates from the ACT branch of the union, which represents prison officers at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, discussed the benefits of Tasers at the annual Australasian Prison Officer’s Conference in Sydney yesterday.

CPSU ACT branch secretary Vince McDevitt said the stun guns could make jails a safer place and reduce assaults.

However, he said an assessment into their potential use in the ACT’s jail would have to be completed before the union officially called for their introduction. ”This is something we would like to discuss, we have had members assaulted in jails,” he said.

”This raises concerns about staffing levels, how many staff have you got, and would a Taser make a difference. We would need to review instances were staff have been assaulted or threatened.”

The Public Service Association of NSW is pushing for Tasers to be rolled out across jails in every jurisdiction.

Senior industrial officer Stewart Little said the introduction of Tasers into the Western Australian and Tasmanian prison system had resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in compensation claims.

”They reduce rates of injuries. This would give prison officers another way of controlling a situation without using force. Prison officers, like police, can utilise lethal force.”

Mr Little said state and territory governments should give prison officers the same protection as police.

He said prison officers had tough and dangerous jobs and dealt with the same people as police.

”There is universal support for the introduction of Tasers into jails, every prison officer understands. We have our members dealing with dangerous individuals, who are coming off drugs.”

He acknowledged Tasers had been incorrectly used in Australian jails, but said the stun guns were still the most accountable weapon.

”If they have been incorrectly used it is something that should be addressed. Tasers have a built-in black box, a history, there is no more an accountable weapon than a Taser.”

He said the stun guns would be particularly useful for prison officers who escort inmates to hospital and court.

”If you are in a public hospital the last thing you want an officer to do is deploy a firearm, a Taser would be an obvious solution.”

Those taking part in the 35th annual Australasian Prison Officer’s Conference were going to be shown how to use a Taser yesterday but the devices did not arrive in Sydney due to Qantas flight disruptions.

A Justice and Community Safety Directorate spokesperson said deploying Tasers at the AMC had not been discussed with staff or the CPSU.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/union-might-back-call-for-prison-tasers/2323691.aspx?storypage=2

 

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