Freedom of Information requests have revealed an alarming amount of Taser use on patients with mental health issues over the last three years. Charities have expressed their concerns over these statistics, warning that Tasering patients could aggravate the condition of those already suffering extreme distress.
The health service watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has stated that Tasers should only be used as a last resort; however, the Freedom of Information requests have revealed that English and Welsh police authorised the use of Tasers on 52 occasions in the last three years.
The reported instances typically occurred during transportation or during treatment and included occasions where police restrained a man wielding a knife and to stop a patient threatening to self-harm.
The national total of 52 instances is almost sure to underestimate the actual total due to the fact that many larger forces (including the Metropolitan Police) did not respond to the Freedom of Information requests.
The CQC has said of the findings:
“It is of great concern a Taser was used within hospital premises in this way. It may be that the use of a Taser can never be ruled out in this context, but any incidence of its use should trigger a thorough consideration of whether the staffing of the hospital unit is adequate to maintain safety, both in terms of staff numbers and staff training.”
The police maintain that Tasers are one of the more safe ways to restrain a patient and that they have a duty to help when called upon to assist with a violent patient.
If you are suffering from any mental health issues, speaking to a counsellor could help prevent the need for hospitalisation. For more information, please see our Mental Health page.
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