The Health Effects of Conducted Energy Weapons

The use of conducted energy weapons (CEWs) by law enforcement agencies around the world has grown rapidly in recent years. CEWs are devices that use electrical energy to induce pain or to immobilize or incapacitate a person. The health effects of CEWs are one of several factors that police and correctional agencies, policy-makers, and front-line personnel must take into account when deciding whether such devices should be used in the field.

To better understand the health-related effects of CEWs, Defence Research and Development Canada requested an independent, evidence-based assessment of the state of scientific knowledge regarding the medical and physiological impacts of conducted energy weapons. The Council of Canadian Academies worked collaboratively with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences on this science-based assessment.

The assessment was conducted by a 14-member expert panel and chaired by the Honourable Justice Stephen T. Goudge from the Court of Appeal for Ontario. 

The panel’s final report details the following:

  • the history of CEW use in Canada;
  • statistics of CEW use and related injuries and deaths in Canada;
  • the design, operation and intended effects of CEWs;
  • physiological and health effects associated with CEWs;
  • the role of CEWs in sudden in-custody death; and
  • insights on the state of current evidence, research gaps and needs.

Question

What is the current state of scientific knowledge about the medical and physiological impacts of conducted energy weapons?

Report and related products:

Video

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on the Medical and Physiological Impacts of Conducted Energy Weapons was chaired by Justice Stephen T. Goudge, a judge with the Court of Appeal of Ontario. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on the Medical and Physiological Impacts of Conducted Energy Weapons page.

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Cathleen Meechan, Director, Communications at 613-567-5000 ext. 228 or cathleen.meechan@scienceadvice.ca

Mailing List Signup

Receive our newsletter, notifications of new assessments topics, news releases, and more!
Preference English  Français
Additional Information