‘Officers only use force when absolutely necessary’

21 December 2020

Officers employ force only when absolutely necessary, says South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne as new figures show a rise in its use in the last year.

A new Home Office report shows there were 492,000?recorded uses of force in the year to March – a rise of 64,000 on the previous year.

The report states: “Across all reported incidents, the most commonly reported reasons for using force were for protection or to assist in making an arrest.

“Using force as a means of protection most commonly involved the officer protecting themselves or other officers, but also included officers protecting the public or the person involved.”

And Steve said: “My colleagues are in their communities, policing the pandemic and interacting with people every single day and in the vast majority of cases there’s no need to use force.

“But on those occasions when it is necessary, it’s deployed to make an arrest, or to protect themselves, their colleagues or the public.

“Unfortunately, with the number of attacks on officers rising, including coronavirus being used against us, so have the number of incidents when my colleagues have had to protect themselves.

“But they will use force only when it’s absolutely necessary,” Steve added.

His comments were echoed by Ché Donald, the national Federation vice-chair, who said the Home Office figures should be seen in the context of the number of assaults on police officers.

During the report period, there were 30,679 assaults on officers in England and Wales, or 84 every day.

And Ché said: “We must read these statistics in relation to the steady increase in assaults on officers. During the period this data covers,?almost 20,000 offences were charged under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act – three-quarters of which were assault by beating.?Nine out of 10 of these cases were police officers.?

“The statistics show that UK policing is one of the best trained and most restrained, using their expertise to protect themselves in an increasingly dangerous job. I make no apology for my colleagues doing the best they can to keep the public, themselves and colleagues safe. The vast majority of people appreciate and understand what we do.”?

Taser was used in 32,000 incidents, but crucially was not discharged in 86 per cent of cases. Total Taser use is up 37 per cent on the previous year and most of?the increase?(88 per cent)?was in non-discharge uses.?

A Taser uplift has seen more officers than ever given access to this life-saving piece of kit after successful lobbying from the Federation.

There has also been an?increase in the recording of?Taser use?due to improved and simpler methods of?doing so.?

Other findings include:?

· There were 715,000 use of force tactics reported in 492,000 incidents?

· The most common impact factor was the person being under the influence of alcohol (180,000 incidents, 37 per cent)

· The most common outcome was the person being arrested (376,000 incidents, 76 per cent)

· Restraint was the most common tactic type. The majority involved handcuffing which was recorded in 70 per cent of all use of force incidents (350,000 times in 492,000 incidents).