Scotland Yard officers use 'force' around once every 10 minutes, figures show


Officers in Britain's largest police service use "force" at a rate of around once every 10 minutes, according to the first figures of their kind.

Constabularies in England and Wales have been compiling data on the techniques deployed during arrests, detentions and public order operations.

Since the start of April officers have had to fill out a form every time they use handcuffs, CS spray, police dogs or draw a baton.

On Tuesday Scotland Yard published its first set of data, which showed 12,605 incidents of force against people by individual officers were registered in the three months to the end of June.

The tally is equivalent to an average of 139 instances a day, or nearly six every hour.

Of the incidents, 10,925 were against men, 1,643 against women and 37 against transgender individuals.

Just over half involved males aged between 18 and 34, while 45% of the individuals subject to force were white, 36% black and 10% from the Asian community. 

Nearly 14% of people were believed to have mental health issues.

Actions logged under the new counting initiative include 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.

Handcuffing of a compliant person was the most reported tactic with 5,397 instances, the Met statistics show, while spit guards were used 25 times in the period.

In the vast majority of cases (89.5%) where Taser was used, the device was not fired.

The figures also reveal that officers were injured on 643 occasions during the period.

Commander Matt Twist, who heads up the Met's response to the new data-recording requirement and is also the national policing lead on the project, 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."

He described the collation of the data as a "positive step".

"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," Mr Twist said.

"It will also ensure transparency to the public, who will get a better idea of what officers face on a day-to-day basis."

He stressed that the findings are drawn from "very early data" and should not be compared against any other statistics.

"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," he said.

"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."

Mr Twist said the process of recording is "very quick", with Met officers asked to fill in an online form which takes a matter of minutes to complete once they have dealt with an incident.

The figures are released at a tense time in police community relations in the capital after the death of a young black man following a pursuit in east London last month.

Rashan Charles, 20, died in hospital after the incident in Hackney on July 22.

A number of other forces have published figures on use of force, with more expected to follow in the coming weeks.