Research by UNSW social science and criminology students has raised concerns about wider police use of Taser guns.
The third-year students conducted their research just months after senior police in NSW were issued with the weapons and as the State Opposition called for every frontline police car to be equipped with a Taser.
The research findings - that no compelling evidence had been put forward that police needed another weapon and that significant safety issues existed - mirrored conclusions made by the NSW Ombudsman.
The project required the students to provide real-world policy advice about the need for all operational police in NSW to be issued with Taser stun guns.
The group's research highlighted concerns about the safety of Tasers when they are fired repeatedly or used on vulnerable groups (including people affected by drugs) and it cited overseas evidence showing Tasers are often used in situations where there is no imminent threat.
"I hope that people recognise that it's important to monitor the weapons that police have," said one of the students, Sylvia Mendelssohn.
"It's amazing how closely the students' findings mirror the conclusions in the actual report from the Ombudsman's office which was released after the students completed their study," said Dr Leanne Weber, a senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and International Studies, who supervised the project.
"It shows how well they were able to apply their research skills while putting themselves into a real-world role."
Dr Weber plans to send the survey results to NSW Police, in the hope that the scenarios developed by the students will be helpful in responding to the Ombudsman's recommendations on police training.
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