Q1 data for use of force recorded for April to June 2018 shows an overall increase in use of force with 2,383 records, the highest level since the current reporting requirements were introduced in April 2017. This continues an overall steady rise in reported incidents which may be indicative of improving compliance in recording of use of force as officers become increasingly familiar with the requirement and process.
Recorded uses of spit and bite guards have almost doubled since the last quarter (from 30 to 59) but this is explained by the phased roll out of spit and bite guards to officers which commenced in January but has continued through the following months, meaning that a far greater number of officers are now equipped with spit and bite guards than were at the beginning of the year.
Now training and the subsequent issue of spit and bite guards has been completed, it is anticipated that use will level off and allow more meaningful monitoring of statistical patterns of use.
The statistics indicate that uses of force against a black subject (9.2%) are disproportionately high when considered alongside overall demographic data. However, the disproportionality evident here is similarly reflected in the exercise of other police powers including stop and search and arrest. Work is ongoing to further analyse this disproportionality by overlaying socio-economic data so that the extent of any issue can be better understood. This will be progressed as part of our work to implement the recommendations of the Lammy Review.
Officers and staff working in custody are receiving training to develop their ability to manage aggression and potential aggression through de-escalation of situations as an alternative to relying on tactical options of physical intervention. This training commenced in early summer 2018 and uses of force in custody fell during June. Further monitoring is required to measure the benefits of this training but it is hoped that it will enable officers and staff to resolve more issues without reliance on a use of force.