Although electromuscular incapacitation devices (Tasers or ‘stun guns') have been in use for over a decade, concern about potential health effects has not been resolved. Moreover, public policy decisions have expanded the availability of Tasers and require wide consultation with the health sector as well as other stakeholders. In the past 5 years sales of Tasers have grown considerably, with numbers of US law enforcement agencies using the devices growing from 1700 in 2001 to 8700 in 2005 (US Department of Justice, personal communication). Jenkinson et al (2006) recently argued, as have the UK Police Federation, that Tasers should be issued to all front line British police, a move that would see a considerable proliferation of Tasers in the UK. A current trial in four districts may pave the way for Tasers to be used nationwide in New Zealand (New Zealand Police, 2006). These developments make it imperative that health professionals monitor the physical and mental health implications of Tasers, and ensure health considerations are part of the public policy debate on their deployment. In this paper we review the existing literature on the use of Tasers, and note that the psychological effects of Taser use have not been investigated.
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