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Crisis program unavailable for woman’s ’beanbag round death

Beanbag rounds, known as Super-Socks, are material bags filled with lead that can be fired to “momentarily incapacitate violent, non-compliant subjects”. Manufacturers warn “shots to the head, neck, thorax, heart, or spine can result in fatal or serious injury”.

Tactical police have used beanbags on 15 occasions this year to aid the detention of dangerous bikies and armed suspects. NSW Police have now suspended the use of the rounds until a review can be carried out.


Kach livestreamed the incident and referenced the sovereign citizen movement, paedophiles, treason, fraud, embezzlement, espionage and the Nuremberg trials. Her grieving family have described her as a “strong and independent woman” who had experienced mental distress during her life.

Hudson said officers responded to 64,000 mental health-related callouts last year in NSW and, for some, police should not have been called.

NSW Police acting Commissioner David Hudson.Credit: James Brickwood

“Showing up in uniform, showing up with police training can escalate a situation rather than de-escalate it,” Hudson said.

“We would suggest that perhaps clinicians are better placed to resolve some of these incidents in a less violent manner than we have seen.”

Police Minister Yasmin Catley said PACER was still a “trial”, despite being in operation for five years and being expanded once already in 2020, at a cost of $6.1 million.

In May, police watchdog the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, reviewed five years of “critical incidents”, in which a person is injured or killed after coming in contact with police. The LECC noted police training for mental health crises was “extremely limited” and, along with the NSW coroner, called for PACER to be properly funded and expanded.

“The commission has also been advised that, at this time, there is no government funding to expand the PACER program,” the LECC concluded.

“A high proportion of critical incidents involve a person experiencing a mental health crisis.”

“The settings are clearly not right”: Greens MP Sue Higginson.

“The settings are clearly not right”: Greens MP Sue Higginson.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

Greens MP Sue Higginson on Tuesday renewed calls for a parliamentary inquiry into police responses to vulnerable people, and said she was concerned by a lack of funding for PACER.

“As the family of Krista Koch were literally identifying their mother’s body and saying goodbye, the minister stood before the media and said she trusts the agencies and the current settings to do their job in relation to dealing with deaths of people experiencing mental illness caused by NSW Police,” she told the Herald.

“The settings are clearly not right and this is not about her trust.”

NSW Police has launched a three-month review into mental health training, how police manage incidents and a review of PACER. The findings are due in November.


Mental Health Minister Rose Jackson conceded there was “significant room for improvement in this space”, but did not respond to questions about why PACER was not given additional support this budget. It has funding for its current form until 2025.

“We are witnessing a shift in the prevalence and type of mental illness and as such a new response is required,” she told the Herald.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/beanbag-round-fatally-struck-woman-s-heart-in-newcastle-siege-police-say-20230919-p5e5v8.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Crisis program unavailable for woman’s ’beanbag round death

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