Use of Force
Sussex Police is fully committed to being transparent about our use of force – whether that is when we use a form of restraint, handcuffing, Taser or irritant spray. Therefore we are now collecting all our data following each time use of force is used.
Publishing this data will provide 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 our model of policing by consent.
In time, this data will give us a wealth of information that will help us to compare the effectiveness of different techniques enabling more informed, evidence-based decisions about training, tactics and equipment. It will also allow the public to give us feedback on our overall use of force.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry who oversees our approach to use of force data said: “These are the early stages of our collecting this information and it would be premature to compare one force to another until a consistency in recording and publication is established across all police forces.
“What we do know is that in the six months between April and September 2017, we got called 356,436 times and Sussex officers recorded 6937 use of force forms for 3744 distinct instances.
“The recording of use of force data can apply to as low level tactics such as applying handcuffs to a compliant person to incidents where violence is threatened to a police officer and the officer uses proportionate force to arrest. It can also relate to where it has been absolutely necessary to apply potential lethal uses of force for dealing with the most violent offenders.
“Police officers are confronted with difficult situations every day. They walk towards danger when others walk away, thinking and acting quickly to keep people safe as best they can. This data will help us and the public understand what it actually involves to be a police officer in Surrey and Sussex. Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary. This data will help us to identify and act on any instances where this is not the case or where we can learn from what the data is telling us.
“We have established a Surrey and Sussex Police Legitimacy Board, which is attended by the Chair of both counties Independent Advisory Groups, where we scrutinise use of force data and ask ourselves difficult and challenging questions about whether our actions are proportionate, legitimate or discriminatory. We have also briefed officers and staff on the importance of completing their Use of Force forms as we recognise that this is an additional bureaucratic process for them to complete. Officers know that for some time we have already been scrutinising some use of force such as Taser and police use of firearms.”
There is a briefing video for all staff (below) which we encourage the public to watch.