The primary purpose of the police is to protect people from harm. Ideally this is best done through preventative measures, engaging with our communities and education. However, there will always be occasions when the police will have to resort to using force to achieve control and make sure people are safe.
The police cannot keep the public safe unless they themselves are safe.
In order that that this can be done all police officers whatever rank or department and whether they are a regular officer, special constabulary or Police Community Support Officer receive special training. The purpose of this training is to maintain the safety of the officer, the public and the subject. Safety is maintained by achieving control.
This training starts with a basic course. After which all officers have to refresh their training annually. The programs include the use of personal protection equipment [PPE]. Depending on their role this can include body armour, handcuffs, batons, synthetic pepper spray, restraint devices and Taser. In addition to this Authorised Firearms Officers [AFO’s] have a separate rigorous training regime in the use of their special weapons and tactics.
Northamptonshire police recognises that when members of the public witness officers having to use physical skills to control violent offenders this can look chaotic. Therefore the training also equips officers to show the justification necessary to ensure it is clear that their actions were reasonable, proportionate, lawful and necessary. What we can’t train our officers to do is make it look pretty!
All patrol officers are also equipped with Body Worn Video [BWV]. This provides extremely good evidence when criminality has taken place. It also provides irrefutable evidence of what occurred in the event that a complaint is made against the officer.
Recording use of force
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. Currently Northamptonshire Police officers can expect to submit in excess of 2,500 reports a year. With the Home Office asking for compliant handcuffing to also be incorporated in the sample this is likely to rise in the future.
Here is some information regarding police use of force in Northamptonshire. We welcome any enquiries or requests for information concerning our practices and very much appreciate the support shown by the public especially in the light of recent events.