West Mercia Police has today, Tuesday 5 August, published figures on the use of force by officers.
Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion said: “The investments I’ve already made, such as the rollout of body worn video, deliver increased transparency. The publication of use of force data is one further step, assuring the public that their police service are meeting national standards, acting in a fair and appropriate way and taking action should any officer fall below the standard expected.
“Police officers are faced with many challenging and dangerous situations and it’s important to remember that these are ordinary people, doing an extraordinary role.
“Our communities should feel reassured, that West Mercia Police officers are acting with integrity, professionalism and accountability as they continue to keep the public safe. “
The figures cover tactics such as officers taking hold of someone’s arm, using handcuffs, deploying a police dog and using a baton, irritant spray, Taser or firearm.
Police officers respond to thousands of incidents each day and, as the figures show, the vast majority (98%) are resolved without requiring these techniques or any form of conflict.
Where use of force actions are taken each officer attending the incident completes a record of their actions. Therefore, there may be more than one record linked to the same incident. Equally, multiple incidents involving the same person will be recorded separately.
The most recorded use of force tactic across the West Mercia Police area between April and June this year was unarmed skills – which includes actions such as taking physical hold of someone and holding someone on the ground. The second most used was handcuffing.
Head of Operations Chief Superintendent Steve Cullen said: “As a police service we have a duty to protect people from harm and these techniques are in place to resolve dangerous situations whilst protecting the public at the scene, the individual under arrest and the officers in attendance.
“Police officers are confronted with difficult situations every day. They walk towards danger when others walk away. They must think and act quickly and we ensure they are given the tools and training they need to help them make dynamic decisions on the actions needed to keep people safe. This data gives the public an insight into these challenges.
“The Code of Ethics underpins all that we do and helps guide us when making difficult decisions, ensuring that our actions are right and fair. To ensure appropriate scrutiny of our actions we also work with Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) and scrutiny forums to make sure our workforce are acting in the correct, lawful and non-discriminatory way.
“This increased transparency will better enable individual uses of force to be placed in context, and provide greater reassurance amongst the public that force, when used, is proportionate, lawful, accountable and necessary in the circumstances”.
The release of the data supports the new Home Office Annual Data Review (ADR) requirement and figures will be released on the West Mercia Police website quarterly. This data will provide greater transparency than ever before into how and why force is used; strengthening the vital relationship between the police and the public that is at the heart of policing by consent.
Anyone interested in finding out more can access the quarterly figures, along with other information about use of force, on the website here.
Issued: Tuesday 5th September 2017