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Police shootings report

Media Release

25 June 1998

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice

Minister for Justice, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said today a new report highlighted the need for police to be equipped with the necessary defence and negotiation skills as well as effective weapons training to deal with potentially fatal situations.

The Minister made the comment in releasing a report from the Australian Institute of Criminology, Police Shootings 1990-97.

"What the report highlights is the extremely volatile and difficult situations our police forces can be required to confront, often facing people who are affected by drugs or alcohol, mental illness or who are involved in a tense domestic situation," Senator Vanstone said.

"This should bring home to us all the dangers and extreme conditions in which our police have to work."

"The issues canvassed in this report have attracted significant media attention in the past."

"What this report does is provide us with a detailed analysis of such incidents and, as a consequence, considered measures which could be instituted to deal with the issue."

"The report shows that between 1990 and 1997, 75 people were shot in confrontations with police. 41 of these people were shot by police and 33 died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. In one case the Coroner could not determine who fired the fatal shot and all but one of the deaths occurred as police attempted to detain the person concerned."

"Analysis of the cases shows that almost half of those involved were under influence of alcohol or drugs, one-third had been reported to be depressed or to have had some form of psychiatric history and one-fifth had a domestic altercation prior to police attendance."

"This highlights the difficulties our police faced when called to situations which are extremely tense and require negotiation to avoid ending in any deaths"

"The report urges a level of commitment to police services to ensure they are trained to deal with these types of situations."

"The report points out that after a peak year in Victoria in 1994, training to minimise risk of the use of force was introduced along with new technologies of restraint and fatal shootings have fallen significantly since that time."