‘Use of force increase should be viewed in light of rise in officer assaults’

18 December 2020

New figures showing an increase in police use of force should be set against rising assaults on officers, says Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb.

Roger says it’s “unacceptable” that officers should come under attack for doing their job and called for stiffer sentences to act as a deterrent.

His comments came as a new Home Office report showed there were 492,000?recorded uses of force by police in England and Wales 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 using 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.”

Roger said: “The majority of incidents in which officers have had to use force has been to protect themselves, their colleagues and the public, and to make an arrest. When they do respond with force, it’ll be proportionately and only when necessary.

“But it’s unacceptable that my colleagues should be faced with assaults just for doing their job. We need the courts to support our members and to send a message that any assault on emergency workers won’t be tolerated.”

Ché Donald, the national Federation vice-chair, echoed Roger’s comments, saying 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 thanks to successful PFEW 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).

Dyfed Powys Police Federation gives a £20 shopping voucher to an officer who is assaulted and then records the incident as a crime and an injury on duty. This is presented to them by their workplace Federation representative. Funding for the vouchers comes through the Federation’s member services providers and not officers’ subscriptions.