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Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT



Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT

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Tabled paper 934


Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT






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25 CHAPTER 4 MAJOR INVESTIGATIONS The identification of issues may give rise to a major investigation by the Ombudsmans office. A major investigation may be initiated based on one or more complaints or on the Ombudsmans own motion. A major investigation involves a substantial commitment of resources by the Office and may result in the preparation of a report to the Chief Minister that is tabled in Parliament. Two major investigation reports were provided to the Chief Minister in 2017/18 for tabling: Taser use and Management of NT Police conduct issues Little Fish Are Sweet: Administration of a high volume, low value, subsidy scheme. Updates on developments relevant to those reports and the following reports finalised in earlier years, are set out below: Women in Prison II Alice Springs Womens Correctional Facility (May 2017) Bills, Bills, Bills Essential Services Power and Water billing and debt management practices in an urban indigenous community (March 2016) Let there be light Response by Department of Housing and Power and Water to widespread incidents of damage to electricity meters in a remote community (June 2015). All tabled reports are available at http://www.ombudsman.nt.gov.au/publications. TASER USE AND MANAGEMENT OF NT POLICE CONDUCT ISSUES This report examined the benefits and risks of Taser (or ECD) use by NT Police in the context of a particular incident involving the use of a Taser on a 12 year old child who was running from Police. It discussed the current state of the literature on Taser use, NT Police rules regarding Taser use and the circumstances of the particular case. It supported the finding of the NT Police investigator that an officer breached rules made by NT Police in relation to Taser use. I concluded that the current state of the literature is such that no definitive causal connection can be drawn between Taser use and death. However, I considered that the occurrence of a substantial number of deaths associated with Taser use cries out for caution. Given the large number of times Tasers have been deployed, compared with even the highest estimates of associated deaths, the risk of death must be realistically assessed as very low. But the severity of the potential outcome is extreme. I concluded that a rigorous and cautionary approach to Taser use must prevail. I further concluded that, while the evidentiary basis is somewhat equivocal, there are pointers to people with certain vulnerabilities being more susceptible to harm following use of a Taser. Children, and more particularly children who are small in stature, fall within that group and even greater caution must be adopted with regard to these individuals. Although I noted contrary views, I did not form the view that Taser use on children (even young children) should be banned, so long as appropriate restrictions are maintained that limit the circumstances of use. However, given the opposing views, I suggested this was a matter on which the NT Government and the Commissioner of Police may wish to deliberate, informed by my report and other relevant material. http://www.ombudsman.nt.gov.au/publications