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2Negative Effects of ‘Less-Lethal’ Weapons


Negative Effects of Less-Lethal Weapons

Use of less-lethal weapons has become common in most parts of Australia. Research findings by Hacock and Grant (2008) states that less-lethal weapons such as chemical sprays, peppers sprays, electronic shock devices, amongst others are commonly used in most Australian law enforcement agencies. These weapons have gained much praise towards their effectiveness. They are always seen as alternatives for use of force to detain suspects; reducing risk of injuries during arrest (Police Use of Force: Impact of Less-Lethal Weapons and Tactics, 2010). However, the potential risks of injuries caused by these weapons are generally ignored (Synyshyn, 2008).

Despite the reduced risks of injuries, less-lethal weapons can also cause both primary and secondary injuries, and sometimes death of suspect on which these weapons are applied. According to Bozeman and Winslow (2005), when the chemicals in these weapons come in contact with either skin or eye of the suspect, cases such as skin irritation can be some of primary injuries caused by these devices. The Human Rights Impact of Less Lethal Weapons and Other Enforcement Equipment (2015), also provides a supportive argument saying use of these chemical can sometimes trigger allergic reactions and respiratory problems which can in turn cause serious injuries or, to extreme, death.

Electronic shock devices can induce cardiac arrest especially when sensitive parts of the body of the suspect are hit; this can cause injuries and death (Donnelly et al, 2002). Officers are trained to aim some primary targets during restraining on a suspect. However, this is sometimes difficulty depending on the range between the officer and the suspect, and the officer ends up hitting some sensitive parts of the suspect leading to problems such as heart failure, secondary head injuries as a result of sudden fall (Alpert et al, 2011).

Therefore, however much less-lethal weapons are praised to have numerous benefits when use in law enforcement by police offices, research studies have revealed that most of the time, risk of injuries caused by these devices have always been ignored. These weapons have negatives effects too, and should therefore be considered when using them. Research studies should therefore be carried out to consider these potential risks by less-lethal weapons.

Reference List

Hancock, L. and Gant, F. 2008. Tasers. Crime and Misconduct Commission: Queensland. Research and Issues Papers Series. ISSN: 1446-845X.

Bozeman, W. and Wilsow, J. 2005. Medical aspects of less lethal weapons. The Internet Journal of Rescue and Disaster Medicine. Vol. 5, No. 1 Available from

Synyshyn, S. 2008. A briefing note on the state of Tasers in Canada: a select review of medical and policy review literature. Available from

Donnelly, T., Douse, K., Gardner, M., and Wilkinson, D. 2002. Non-lethal Weapons Human Effects. Evaluation of Tesers devices.

Amnesty International. 2015. The Human Rights Impact of Less Lethal Weapons and Other Law Enforcement Equipment. Available from [2016]

Police Use of Force: Impact of Less-Lethal Weapons and Tactics, 2010. National Institute of Justice Journal. Available from [2016]

Alpert, G. P., Smith, M. R., Kaminski, R. J., Fridell, L. A., MacDonald, J., and Kubu, B. 2011. Police use of force, tasers and other less-lethal weapons. Available from