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 records a variety of data including the types of tactics used in any one incident. These include tactical communications (when an officer verbally interacts with a member of the public), 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.
Each officer will complete a use of force form by ticking individual tactics used in any one incident. The options on the forms are set by the Home Office.
As they may use more than one tactic in a single situation, this will be counted and recorded as another use of force. For example, during many incidents, tactical communication will often occur and be recorded; the same incident then leads to compliant handcuffing which would count as another use of force tactic. This means the same subject would appear more than once within the data, this is also the case if more than one officer used a use of force tactic during a single police encounter.
Tactical communication is defined as the use of communication skills with the purpose of resolving a situation. This includes looking at the tone of voice, speech delivery, body language and environment. Through these communications we seek to understand each other’s position, define the problem, seek solutions and agree a way forward.
Where restraint accoutrements appears on the form, this would include non-compliant hand-cuffing and Velcro limb restraints.
The irritant spray total also includes the deployment of the spray.
Custody and mental health
The way use of force information is currently recorded means we are unable to extract certain fields and combinations of specific data. Unfortunately custody and mental health data is one of these combinations. Statistics relating to these circumstances are unavailable at present.
This option is required as part of the Home Office form.
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