Use of force

Every day Humberside Police respond to hundreds of incidents and calls across our communities in urban and rural settings. The vast majority of these matters are resolved peacefully. However, on occasions it will be necessary for our officers to exercise use of force to uphold the law and keep the public or themselves safe from harm.

Officers are authorised to use force in specified circumstances. They are trained in the use of force and will face numerous circumstances during their duties where the use of force is appropriate. However, the use of force must have a lawful objective such as the prevention of injury to others or damage to property, or the effecting of a lawful arrest.

Responsibility for the use of force rests with the officer exercising that force. Officers must be able to show that the use of force was lawful, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances. Using handcuffs, for example, may not always be a necessary or proportionate response.

It is important to recognise that each use of force incident involves a unique set of circumstances, with the officer's decision making based on a variety of factors. The circumstances and considerations should be continually reassessed using the National Decision Making Model to achieve this.

When using force officers are governed by the following legislation:

  • Section 117 PACE 1984 (when an arrest is made force may be used)
  • Section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967 (officers may use reasonable force in the circumstances to prevent crime)
  • Common Law (an officer may use force to protect themselves or another)
  • Human Rights Act 1998 (force must always be proportionate, legal, officers are accountable and it must have been necessary)

Recording Use of Force

All police forces are required to ensure that their officers complete a use of force form whenever they use force against a person. This is to ensure that that there is increased transparency which will better enable individual uses of force to be placed in context, and provide greater reassurance amongst the public that force, when used, is proportionate, lawful, accountable and necessary in the circumstances. It will also assist in identifying instances where this is not the case.

Officers record all use of force, whilst not a fully exhaustive list, use of force will include:

  • unarmed skills including holding or restraining the person
  • drawing or using appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (asp baton/Taser/incapacitant spray
  • use of handcuffs; and at the highest end, a threat or use of lethal force

 The information that can be extracted from these forms can flag up training and officer safety issues. Additionally, all use of force data is provided to the Home Office on an annual basis to allow for monitoring and statistical review.

How will Humberside Police use the data?

 Officers are trained to use to force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary and in accordance with the principles of the use of force, available from the College of Policing.

 Access to 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 that officers may need to make any improvements in safeguarding the public and protecting our officers.

Use of Force Scrutiny

 The Use of Force Scrutiny Panel is an independent panel formed to consider the application of the use force within Humberside Police. The panel aims to inspire transparency, increase public confidence in the police and provide learning. The panel considers individual cases to assess and scrutinise use of force and identify areas of concern and good practice.

Members of the panel include representatives of the Diversity Panel who have been recruited to the Panel due to their outstanding knowledge and experience of equalities and human rights issues, alongside their interpersonal skills and adeptness at scrutiny and research. 

The panel meets quarterly to review our use of force records. Random dip-samples will take place and the panel will then meet to look at the appropriateness of the use of force used.

By examining records and body worn video footage, they will provide feedback to the force, highlighting any areas of concern or good practice.

In addition to the independent external scrutiny of the use of force we also have a Use of Force Monitoring Group consisting of key members of the force who monitor use of force data to review whether it is used fairly and proportionately and in accordance with the values and behaviours contained with our Plan on a Page.

How do I make a complaint?

Details of any complaint against police can be made via our online form or in person generally to an Inspector who will act as the initial investigating officer and discuss with you the nature of your complaint and record it as appropriate.

Use of force data

 The use of force data for the last quarter is illustrated below. Click the download links (PDF) to view historic use of force data.