Home Office releases use of force statistics

18 December 2020

Gwent Police Federation’s chair has called for offenders who attack police to feel the full weight of the law as new figures show an increase in officers using force to protect themselves.

Steve Thorpe’s comments come as a new Home Office report shows there were 492,000 recorded police use of force incidents in the year to March – a rise of 64,000 on the previous year.

In 68 per cent of incidents, the reason given by officers for use of force was to protect themselves, the report said.

It stated: “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.”

Steve said: “Assaults on my colleagues are on the rise. Indeed, we’ve seen offenders using coronavirus as a means to attack officers in the last year.

“And where they respond with force, such as in making an arrest, it’s proportionate and lawful. But they shouldn’t be subjected to assaults for doing their jobs, and those who attack police officers should feel the full weight of the law.”

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 the devices thanks to successful Federation lobbying.

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).