|Friday, 17 September 2004||NSWCCL media release: 8/2004|
In the wake of the NSW Police Association condemning the proposal to arm rail transit officers with capsicum spray or gel, Community Legal Centres and Civil Rights Groups call for an immediate halt to the proposal and an outright ban on police use of capsicum spray, warning that it is an unreasonable use of force and by no means a safe ‘ non lethal alternative’. Michael Costa’s mistaken belief that the gel is used by transit officers in Western Australia is indicative of decision making on the run.
Vicki Sentas, Coordinator, UTS Community Law Centre said:
"Experience from the United States and the United Kingdom, and medical and scientific reports show that police use of capsicum spray has caused death and serious injury. Capsicum Spray is a dangerous chemical weapon which should not be used by either Transit Officers or the Police."
Janet Loughman, Solicitor, Marrickville Legal Centre’s Children’s Legal Service said:
"78% of young people report police never or rarely treat them with respect .This means that young people are particularly vulnerable to injury through the use of capsicum spray. We are very alarmed at the proposal to extend the use of capsicum spray or gel to transit officers since young people aged 11-20 years are the single largest group of ‘train travellers."
Cameron Murphy, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties said:
"Rather than being an alternative to preventing injury and death, capsicum spray is proving to be a weapon of first choice, and one that increases those risks."
For more details contact:
NSW Council for Civil Liberties
0411 769 769
UTS Community Law Centre
0414 906 830
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