Police Federation

UK police still 'most restrained' despite assaults against them

National Vice-Chair emphasises incidents must be seen in context of spike in assaults on officers

17 December 2020

National Vice-Chair Ché Donald (credit: Fiona Hanson)

National Vice-Chair Ché Donald (credit: Fiona Hanson)

Home Office statistics released today which show a sharp increase in police use of force must be seen in the context of the unacceptably high cases of violence against police officers.

That is the view of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) following publication of figures for the year to March 2020, which show there were 492,000 recorded uses of force – a rise of 64,000 on the previous year.

However, in the same period, there were 30,679 recorded assaults on police officers in England and Wales – that’s 84 every day.

PFEW National Vice-Chair Ché Donald said: “We must read these statistics in relation to the steady increase in assaults on officers. During the period this data covers, almost 20,000 offences were charged under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act – three-quarters of which were assault by beating. Nine out of 10 of these cases were police officers. 

“The statistics show that UK policing is one of the best trained and most restrained, using their expertise to protect themselves in an increasingly dangerous job. I make no apology for my colleagues doing the best they can to keep the public, themselves and colleagues safe. The vast majority of people appreciate and understand what we do.” 

Taser was used in 32,000 incidents, but crucially was not discharged in 86 per cent of cases. Total Taser use is up 37 per cent on the previous year and most of the increase (88 per cent) was in non-discharge uses. 

A Taser uplift has seen more officers than ever given access to this life saving piece of kit thanks to successful PFEW lobbying. 

There has also been an increase in the recording of Taser use due to improved and simpler methods of doing so. 

Other findings include: 

  • There were 715,000 use of force tactics reported in 492,000 incidents 
  • The most common impact factor was the person being under the influence of alcohol (180,000 incidents, 37 per cent)
  • The most common outcome was the person being arrested (376,000 incidents, 76 per cent)
  • Restraint was the most common tactic type. The majority involved handcuffing which was recorded in 70 per cent of all use of force incidents (350,000 times in 492,000 incidents) 
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