Use of force
We are committed to keeping the communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safe and work hard to do this through preventative work within our local communities. However, there will always be occasions when we will have to resort to using force to achieve control of people who resist or are violent, to make sure people are safe.
We cannot keep the public safe unless we ourselves are safe. Our staff are confronted with difficult and dangerous situations every day. They walk towards danger when others walk away, thinking and acting quickly to keep people safe, and, as part of these duties, officers will occasionally need to use force.
All frontline officers and staff, regardless of rank or department, receive special training, which is to ensure the safety of the officer or staff member, the public and the subject. The training includes the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) and depending on individual roles, can include the use of body armour, handcuffs, batons, synthetic pepper spray, restraint devices and tasers. The training also equips officers to show the justification necessary to ensure that applying force is reasonable, proportionate, lawful and necessary. All officers and staff have to refresh their training annually.
In addition to this Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) have a separate rigorous training regime in the use of their special weapons and tactics.
All officers when resorting to using any force – even the compliant application of handcuffs - must submit a report describing the circumstances. The information this provides is scrutinised to ensure that any learning can be acted upon to minimise the chance of injury to both officers and subjects in future incidents.
Why is Hampshire Constabulary releasing this data?
From April 1, 2017, a new way of recording use of force became mandatory for all police forces, with officers required to fill out a form every time any type of force was used in the course of their duties. In line with police forces around the country, we are committed to releasing this data on a quarterly basis.
This data gives insight into what being a police officer or member of staff involves, and the challenges they deal with on society’s behalf. It also provides greater transparency than ever before into how and why force is used, strengthening the vital relationship between the police and the public that is at the heart of this country's model of policing by consent. Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when necessary. This data help us to identify and act on any instances where this may not be the case.
This data is used to help us compare the effectiveness of different techniques which underpins evidence-based decisions about training, tactics and equipment.
You can find the core principles of use of force on the College of Policing website here.
How is the data recorded?
From 1 April, 2017, it became compulsory for officers to complete use of force forms after any such incident – including both compliant and non-compliant handcuffing, the use of a form of restraint, a Taser, or irritant spray.
The published data has had personal details removed along with any details which could lead to the identification of a specific incident.
Each individual officer has to submit a form if they feel they have used force. This could result in a number of forms being submitted which relate to a single incident. This also needs to be taken into account when looking at the figures for the number of times handcuffs, batons, Taser and spit guards were used.
Because this data is being collected and reported by police forces for the first time, and due to the complexities of determining what exactly counts as a use of force, the National Police Chiefs Council has cautioned that comparisons between forces may be unreliable and misleading.
This is the first phase of the national project and Hampshire Constabulary will be working continuously to improve the quality and consistency of use of force data.
How does Hampshire Constabulary use the data?
Collecting this key data will allow us the opportunity to identify organisational learning where appropriate, ultimately helping to shape and guide how we deliver training to our frontline staff. Our intention moving forward is to utilise this data to identify means of improving our core personal safety training to ensure we continue to protect the public and our officers and staff.
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Hardcastle said: "We welcome the opportunity to provide this information to the communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, to help reassure them that our use of force is proportionate, lawful and only applied when necessary. Gathering and presenting this information helps us identify what is working well and where we need to make improvements.
"We work closely with stakeholders, including our independent advisory groups (IAGs), and we welcome the challenge that they provide in holding us to account and ensuring we are as open and as transparent as possible about the methods we apply. We analyse our data to ensure that we do not discriminate against any particular community groups or demographics in our use of force and so that we can respond to any concerns raised.
“I can assure the public that there is robust and comprehensive process to scrutinise when force is reported to have been used and when our staff are assaulted. This evidence was used to underpin our rollout of spit guards to all our front line officers earlier this year.
“We have also utilised the roll-out of body-worn video to ensure we can review use of force incidents, especially the most serious ones.
"This is the first quarterly publication of our use of force and I hope that this helps to demonstrate our commitment to keeping the communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safe.”
From 2021 we have revised our stats to make them more accessible to all. The excel sheets below may not be suitable for uses of assistive technology. Please contact us by emailing [email protected] to request an accessible version of any of the excel sheets from September 2018. See our accessibility statement