The Metropolitan Police Service has today, Tuesday, 1 August, published for the first time figures on the use of force, in support of the Home Office Annual Data Review (ADR) requirement.
The Met began the new counting process on Saturday, 1 April, and the first set of data, up until the end of June, includes tactics available to officers from taking hold of someone’s arm, handcuffing a person who appears compliant, deploying a police dog, using a baton, CS spray, Taser or a firearm.
The data is broken down by borough and officer's role and includes the gender, ethnicity and age of the individuals concerned, as well as the times and locations of the incidents.
12,605 incidents of force against people by individual officers were recorded for this period. Of those, 10,925 were against men, 1,643 against women and 37 against transgender individuals. Most incidents were against men aged between 18 and 34 years with 6404 incidents, and breaking the data down further, 45% of people were white, 36% per cent black and 10% per cent from the Asian community, and nearly 14% of people were believed to have mental health issues.
The total number of tactics recorded are 18,691, as officers may have used more than one in any situation, each of which, whilst recorded on the same form, is counted separately. The tactics include communication. Whilst not a use of force in itself (and as such would not be recorded on its own), the data requirement asks officers to make a record of when talking to someone was not effective and they then had to use force.
The most reported tactic was handcuffing a compliant person - 5,397, and the most recent piece of equipment being trialled in London custody suites, spit guards, were used 25 times in this period.
One of the more serious use of force techniques is Taser. Records show it was fired in only 10.5% of cases where it was deployed, so in 89.5% of cases over this time period it was used but not fired, demonstrating how effective a tactic it is at defusing potentially volatile situations and reducing the need for further use of force techniques.
Commander Matt Twist, who heads the Met’s response said: “Our officers face the most dangerous situations every day. It is important we give them the right training and equipment to do the job.
Use of force techniques are there to stop violence and danger, protecting not only the officer making an arrest but also the public at the scene, and the person being arrested.
"We can see from the data that on 643 occasions, officers were injured in this period.
“The collation of data in this way is a positive step for the Met. It gives senior officers an enhanced ability to scrutinise the decisions officers take daily, and help influence the way we train officers in use of force tactics, and to ensure we are giving them the right equipment.
“It will also ensure transparency to the public who will get a better idea of what officers face on a day-to-day basis.
“It is really important to note that this first three month period is very early data and not comparable against anything else. It will take time for us to ensure officers comply with filling out this form after every use of force interaction becomes routine or second nature. We know that there will be instances of force used in this period which have not been recorded, but having scrutinised the data, we have already seen a steady increase in online recording. We have been training officers on the new form through officer safety training and briefings.
"The process of recording itself is very quick, we ask officers to fill in an online e-form, which only takes a matter of minutes, once they have dealt with an incident. I hope in the future this will be even more accessible to frontline officers to complete through an app on their phones or tablets.
“This data will be published on the Met’s website periodically through the year with the agreement that each participating force will publish their data at least quarterly.”