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Police Shootings of People With a Mental Illness

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2013
3 pages
This special monitoring report examines deaths in custody and fatal police shootings of people with mental illness in Australia.
The data highlights the important role that ongoing monitoring plays in improving ones understanding of the issues faced by operational police members on the front-line. This report contains detailed analysis of the 2,325 deaths in custody since 1 January 1980, which includes 905 deaths in police custody and custody-related operations. This report also examines fatal police shootings that have occurred in Australia since monitoring of these incidents began in 1989-1990. Data collected reveals that since 1989- 1990, there have been 105 persons fatally shot by police, with available information indicating that in 44 (42 percent) incidents, the deceased had been identified as having some form of mental illness, with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia being the most common. Analysis of post-mortem toxicology results showed that in 53 (51 percent) fatal shootings, the deceased had consumed drugs and/or alcohol prior to the incident. Of the 44 persons with a mental illness who were shot by police, 25 (57 percent) had consumed drugs and/or alcohol prior to the incident. 2 tables and 3 references