"Police have resorted to firing Tasers to subdue mentally-ill patients in hospital and care homes more than 50 times in three years, Freedom of Information requests have disclosed.
Charities have expressed alarm over the levels of Taser use and warned that it could aggravate the condition of people already suffering extreme distress.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the health service watchdog, has said Tasers should be deployed only as a last resort in psychiatric wards.
However, The Independent has
established from replies received under the FoI Act that English and
Welsh police forces authorised Taser use against people receiving
psychiatric care on 52 occasions in the last three years." The Independent, 7th May 2013
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I understand only too well what a difficult job our Police Officers have and they need to make decisions within minutes or seconds where as we are able to discuss the finer points for months after.
I have been fortunate to work with the Metropolitan Police Service on improving mental health awareness and I am able to see both sides to this story. When Police are faced with a patient they are responsible for the safety of not only the patient, but to other patients, staff and the wider public.
It is sometimes safer to use taser then to try and restrain a person who is displaying extreme signs of aggression as the effects are over the second the taser has stopped. Restraint has caused far more injuries and even death in the past and this should be kept in mind.
What is needed is continuing development of mental health awareness so that the decisions Officers make are the best they can in what are extremely difficult circumstances.