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Use of force FAQs

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  • Q:

    What is use of force?

    A:

    A Use of force (tactical option) is any course of action, or inaction, that an individual may choose in response to a situation. Options include: Adoption of a proper/ready stance; Approaching or withdrawing; Communication; Drawing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment; Exercising powers; Issuing of orders; Use of empty hand skills; Use of an irritant spray; Use of a baton; Use of handcuffs. This list is not exhaustive. Please note that a decision to use a tactical option will need to be accounted for, as will other options considered but not chosen.

  • Q:

    Do police have the power to use force?

    A:

    Currently the law allows the police to use reasonable force when necessary in order to carry out their role of law enforcement. The three main powers relating to the use of force are contained within:

  • Q:

    Do Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and police (civilian) staff have the power of use force?

    A:

    Under the Police Reform Act 2002 Chief Officers can designate civilian employees as one or more of the descriptions specified. Powers are limited to those stated in Schedule 4 to the Act and apply to England and Wales only. Chief Officers can impose restrictions and/or conditions to these powers (for example by limiting them to a particular geographical area). Section 38 of the Police Reform Act 2002 refers to the designation of suitably skilled and trained civilian employees. These members of Police Staff fall into the following four main categories: Police Community Support Officers; Designated; Detention Officers; Escort Officers; Investigating Officers.

  • Q:

    What are the police processes should force be used?

    A:

    When an officer uses force on an individual their first duty is the immediate care of that individual and to ensure that they get the appropriate medical care.

  • Q:

    What information will be recorded about me?

    A:

    The use of force form does not contain your name, date of birth or address. The officer will however note your perceived age, gender, your demeanour, any disability (mental or physical), injuries sustained and caused. Your personal details will however be recorded on the custody system, officer statement and any subsequent investigation file.

  • Q:

    What will happen to me should force be used?

    A:

    The officer has a duty of care for every individual. All officers are trained in first aid and the aftercare procedures following certain types of use of force (taser, PAVA, dog bite). You may well be arrested for any offences that have led to the officer using force, however this may not be appropriate in certain circumstances i.e. large scale protests, whereby due to the on-going threat and police resourcing a post incident investigation may take place.

  • Q:

    Will I have a criminal record?

    A:

    The type of force used against you by the police will be in response to a perceived threat against the officer, members of the public or property. It will be for those actions that you may be arrested and dealt with by the criminal justice system.

  • Q:

    How do I make a complaint?

    A:

    If within custody you should bring the fact that your wish to make a complaint to the custody sergeant who will inform the duty Inspector. The duty Inspector will act as the initial investigating officer and will discuss with you the nature of your complaint and record it as appropriate. This process will not commence until any criminal investigation taking place against you has been concluded.

  • Q:

    What information do the police have to give me?

    A:

    There is no national requirement for officers to give you a reference number following any use of force. To ensure transparency the officer must give you their collar number when requested. This will enable you to take any follow up action. Following certain types of use of force (i.e. taser, dog bite and PAVA) you will be provided with aftercare information (if in custody).

  • Q:

    What is "subject access"?

    A:

    The Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the right to ask in writing whether there is any personal data that the West Mercia Police holds or has processed about you. This is the right of Subject Access.

  • Q:

    Can I use subject access to get hold of someone else's records?

    A:

    No. The subject access process is confidential between the individual and the police. We cannot provide you with the details of another person.

  • Q:

    How much does a Data Protection/Subject Access Request Cost?

    A:

    Each subject access application request costs £10.00 Sterling.

  • Q:

    How to Complain

    A:

    We expect officers to be polite and respectful at all times and all use of force must be proportionate, lawful and necessary in the circumstances, without discrimination. Officers will be accountable for all instances where force is used. If you were unhappy with how you were treated, you should complain. You should also make a complaint if you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexuality, gender, disability, religion or faith. We value feedback - both positive and negative - as this helps us to identify the things we do well and any areas that we may need to improve.

  • Q:

    What is tactical communication?

    A:

    Tactical communication quite simply involves talking to a suspect. This includes issuing orders such as asking them to move or stop/change their actions.

  • Q:

    What are unarmed skills?

    A:

    Unarmed skills include the physical holding, pinning or restraining of a person. It also includes any form of physical contact - for example, pushing, pulling, striking or pinning someone to ground.

  • Q:

    What is restraint equipment?

    A:

    Specialist equipment used to reduce movement. This equipment aids in controlling behaviour and thus preventing harm to everyone involved in an incident. It includes the use of body or limb restraints, such as an Emergency Restraint Belt (ERB), Velcro or fast straps, and spit guards.

  • Q:

    What is an incapacitant?

    A:

    There are two types of incapacitant spray: PAVA and CS spray. They are used to incapacitate someone by irritating the skin, causing them to experience tears and coughing. The spray canister can be pulled out of its holster to show escalation or deployed to cause temporary incapacitation.

  • Q:

    Why haven't you released the age of the suspect?

    A:

    Age is not a mandatory field on our current form, however, the next iteration of the form will have this as a set piece of information. Therefore future release of our use of force data will include this information.

  • Q:

    How long have you been recording the data for?

    A:

    Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police have been gathering use of force data since 2014. In 2017 a commitment was made by forces nationally to both record this data and to release the information to the public. This provides greater openness and transparency into how and why force and insight into the difficult situations police officers are confronted with every day and the quick time decisions they have to make to protect the public from harm.