Dorset Police have today, Friday 22 September, released figures on the use of force by officers, in support of the Home Office Annual Data Review (ADR) requirement.
From 1 April 2017, a new way of recording use of force tactics became mandatory for all police forces, with officers required to fill out a form every time any type of force is used in the course of their duties. Police forces across the country are now expected to release that data on a quarterly basis as part of a commitment to transparency and openness.
Each officer present at an incident involving a use of force tactic must submit a use of force form, therefore the number of forms submitted will be greater than the number of incidents involving use of force tactics. There is currently no robust mechanism to identify the precise number of individual incidents involving use of force.
The use of force form includes a variety of data including the types of tactics used in any one incident. These include both compliant and non-compliant handcuffing, the use of a form of restraint, the deployment and/or fire of a Taser, or an irritant spray. More than one tactic can be used in a single incident therefore the number of tactics recorded will be greater than the number of forms submitted.
• During 1 April 2017 and 30 June 2017 officers attended 23,193 incidents in Dorset.
• During the same time period 2,041 individual use of force forms were submitted for approximately 1,572 individual incidents involving a use of force tactic.
• Less than seven per cent of attended incidents involved a use of force tactic.
• A use of force tactic was predominantly used to prevent harm.
Demographic Summary: (please bear in mind that multiple forms may be submitted for an incident)
• The data includes officer perceived age, gender, and ethnicity for the individuals concerned.
• Over 77 per cent of forms were completed after contact with men.
• Half of the forms submitted (50 per cent) were after contact with an 18 – 34 year old.
• The majority of forms were submitted after contact with an 18 – 34 year old men.
Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Our officers face dangerous situations every day and in the current climate it is imperative that we employ proportionate and appropriate tactics in each situation we face in order to achieve our number one objective, protecting the public.
“Use of force tactics are there to protect not only the public but also the safety of our officers. Figures show that in the same time period 75 officers were assaulted in Dorset.
“Our officers go through rigorous and continued training on tactics which are considered by the Home Office as a use of force. Officers are highly trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when necessary.
“This data gives insight into what being a police officer involves, and the challenges they deal with whilst also providing information to help us compare effectiveness of different techniques. This enables us to make more informed decisions about training, tactics and equipment.
“The figures show that use of force tactics often diffuse potentially volatile and dangerous situations. Out of 32 records of officers drawing their Taser, Taser was fired on only six occasions. This clearly demonstrates that the deployment of Taser alleviates potentially serious situations.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “The new publication guidelines aim to increase transparency. Recording each use of force will help to ensure that forces are held to account and officers continue to use force appropriately and proportionately.
“I welcome the publication of these statistics and will be discussing the data at an upcoming use of force scrutiny panel in November, to ensure any learning is taken from them. This scrutiny process is a key part of my role and the publication of this data will facilitate more efficient and effective oversight.”