Police statistics on use of force to be published in detail for first time

A baton and handcuffs carried by a police officer
A baton and handcuffs carried by a police officer
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The first detailed statistics on the use of force by police officers are set to be published under a new transparency drive.

Forces in England and Wales have been compiling the data as part of a large-scale project, with constabularies due to start releasing the findings in the coming weeks.

They will present the most comprehensive picture yet of how often different types of force are deployed during arrests, detentions or public order operations.

Techniques or tactics covered range from handcuffing to the use of dogs, batons, body restraints and irritant sprays.

As part of the initiative, officers have to fill out a form every time they use force, recording a number of details including the reasons for the use, whether they were assaulted, and the age, gender and ethnicity of the subject.

In the first instance, the figures will be in the form of quarterly snapshots released by individual forces, before a national overview is published next year.

The figures will compliment those already available on the uses of Tasers and firearms.

Senior officers say the project is at an early stage and it will be some time before firm conclusions can be drawn, adding that the local force releases should not be compared with each other.

Commander Matt Twist, the National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Use of Force Data Collection, said: "The data we are now capturing will provide greater transparency than ever before into how and why force is used.

"Also, hopefully it will strengthen the vital relationship between the police and public.

"Police officers have always recorded use of force, but it's been on an evidential basis. Officers have always had to justify uses of force to make them legal.

"These have been recorded as part of officers' notes, but there has never been any way, in the main, of comparing different types of force or how much force is used."