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Controversial police chokehold to be banned in Queensland

A controversial chokehold associated with causing fatalities and banned in other Australian states will no longer be used as a restraining technique by Queensland Police.

Apr 14, 2023, updated Apr 14, 2023
Police in Queensland will no longer be able to restrain people using a controversial hold targeting the neck. (photo: Qld Police Service).

Police in Queensland will no longer be able to restrain people using a controversial hold targeting the neck. (photo: Qld Police Service).

The technique known as lateral vascular neck restraint, developed in the US 40 years ago, will be discontinued “effective immediately”, according to a statement from commissioner Katarina Carroll.

Long criticised for its potentially harmful effects, the stranglehold came under increased fire after it was revealed police in Townsville used the technique on an Indigenous man who died in custody in 2018.

The death of George Floyd in the US in 2020, which made international headlines and sparked worldwide protests, brought further condemnation of police applying force to the neck, resulting in several US police forces to outlaw the practice.

If applied with enough sustained force, the hold will cause restricted blood flow to the brain, leading to a potential loss of consciousness, according to medical advice.

Carroll said the decision to axe the technique came after a 12-month review involving subject matter experts and external representatives from the Queensland Police Union of Employees, Crime and Corruption Commission, and a recognised medical expert from the Queensland Ambulance Service.

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Carroll indicated the technique no longer aligned with modern policing.

“While it has been available to officers for a long time in Queensland, the options for officers to apply force in challenging and life-threatening situations have increased and broadened since its introduction over 30 years ago,” she said.

“The decision aligns Queensland with all other Australian policing jurisdictions who no longer use the technique.”

 

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