Speak Directly To a Lawyer Now

1300 038 223
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 days
Or have our lawyers call you:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Are Handcuffs Illegal? (Qld)

In Queensland, handcuffs are classed as a “restricted item” under the Weapons Act 1990, and it is illegal to possess or acquire them without a reasonable excuse. The penalty is a maximum of 10 penalty units ($1334.50).

Restricted items

The Weapons Categories Regulation 1997 defines restricted items, which include “handcuffs, thumbcuffs or other similar restraints”. Other items in this category are:

  • nunchaku or kung-fu sticks;
  • batons;
  • studded gloves;
  • laser pointers;
  • replica firearms;
  • permanently inoperable weapons.

It is not a reasonable excuse to possess or acquire a restricted item for crowd or traffic control. Further, a security licence does not authorise a person to carry handcuffs.

The regulations state anyone who possesses a restricted item must store it in a locked container, and ensure it cannot be accessed by anyone not lawfully entitled to access it. The penalty is a maximum of 10 penalty units ($1334.50). When a person carries handcuffs, they must be fully concealed in a closed pouch, or the same penalty applies.

Reasonable excuse

The statute does not set out what constitutes a reasonable excuse in relation to possessing or acquiring handcuffs. However, this could include:

  • their use as a prop for a stage play;
  • when conducting official training in how to use them;
  • when they form part of an exhibition;
  • being a collector of antique handcuffs.

Use by police officers

Handcuffs are issued to Queensland police officers to be used to restrain and control a person safely and effectively. They can be used only when it is lawful to do so, such as when a person is threatening violence or showing an intention to escape custody.

When deciding whether to use them, a police officer must conduct a risk assessment considering factor such as:

  • the nature of the offence;
  • the behaviour of the person;
  • any previous attempts to escape;
  • any history of violence from the offender;
  • any other people in custody;
  • parity or disparity in the physique of the person and the officer;
  • the likelihood of injury to any party;
  • the person’s mental health, including incidents of self-harm;
  • a need to prevent escalation of an incident;
  • the circumstances and location of an incident.

The officer must be able to justify why their use was considered reasonably necessary.

When using handcuffs, a police officer should:

  • handcuff the person behind their back unless:
    • injury or deformity prevents this;
    • the journey for the person is considerable and handcuffing the person behind their back may create health and safety issues;
  • not handcuff themselves to the person;
  • not handcuff the person to a fixed object;
  • ensure the handcuffs are double-locked and checked after application;
  • ensure the handcuffs can be unlocked in an emergency.

The handcuffs must be carried in an approved pouch on a belt or vest, or in another approved method of carriage.

Flexible handcuffs (such as “zip tie” cuffs) can generally be used only by members of a Special Emergency Response Team or Public Safety Response Team.

For advice on any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Legal Hotline
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223