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Police Use of Force UK 2018 Statistics

DPP Law - Use of force

Key Statistics:

  • The overall number of incidents during which force was used by the police has risen by approximately 6.4% to 66,160 in 2017 – 2018.
  • 1 white person in every 200 was subject to police force this year.
  • 1 black person in every 50 was subject to police force this year.
  • The most likely targets for use of police force are aged between 18 and 34 years, with 38,038 instances this year being recorded.
  • Police firearms operations have increased by 19% since the year ending March 2018

What Constitutes Force?

Law enforcers around the world are legally permitted to utilise “force” – that is, to physically manipulate or restrain individuals suspected of or connected to crime – as long as the extent to which they use it is considered and reasonable, and they can explain clearly why it was needed.

According to policeconduct.gov.uk, police officers define ‘reasonable’ force as what is necessary for a person to be compliant and/or restrained and to minimise the risk of harm to the individual, the police officer or the public.

Physical force can be applied through use of manual physical restraint techniques, physical strikes, handcuffs, or the deployment of CS spray, tasers, batons, AEP rounds, trained police dogs or firearms, with each technique constituting a more or less “serious” type of force depending on the potential damage it may do to the individual on the receiving end.

So how regularly have London police used force throughout recent years, and how many of these instances have been judged to represent “reasonable” force? Also, what is the effect of police use of force having on the crime landscape throughout the wider UK? These 2018 UK based findings will look into police use of force; and the overall, up to date, police use of force statistics for the country.

General Police use of Force Statistics

Police use of force statistics gathered by DPP Law as part of a 2018 study focussing on the activities of London-based police officers show that…

The overall number of incidents during which force was used has risen by approximately 6.4% – from 62,153 instances throughout the year 2016 – 2017 to 66,160 in 2017 – 2018.

This is despite no signs of assault from the subject of force being recorded in 63,008 (more than 95%) of the cases this year.

Only 3,152 people were actually recorded to have assaulted any of the attending officers at the time that they were on the receiving end of force.

The study also showed that the majority of police use of force cases throughout the last year took place on the streets. These instances numbered 36,721 in total, while other main groups of occurrences took place in or near ambulances (totalling 2,550) or in hospitals or A&E departments (totalling 1,235).

Impact Factors

  • A total of 66,160 cases of police force were recorded in London this year, they were separated down by a number of impact factors
  • Throughout the last year in London, force was used 15,347 times because the subject was in possession of a weapon, this accounts for 23% of all police force incidents.
  • It was reported that 21,902 people were subjected to force due to their size, gender or build, this accounts for 33% of all police force incidents.
  • Officers used force against 19,342 people because of prior knowledge that they may pose a dangerous threat, this accounts for 23% of all police force incidents, this accounts for 29% of all police force incidents.
  • 10,936 people were subjected to force due to perceived mental health concerns, this accounts for 17% of all police force incidents.

Reasons for Use of Force

Protection

50,648 incidents of use of force took place as London police officers tried to protect themselves, while 44,792 occurred because officers were protecting fellow law enforcers.

Force was used in 26,587 instances where officers were protecting the public.

25,891 people were at the receiving end of force to stop them harming themselves.

Handcuffs

Force was used 32,800 times to help officers ensure an effective arrest.

3,222 of those arrested reported that they were assaulted as their handcuffs were removed.

Escape

Police officers used force against 36,405 people to prevent them escaping.

Use of Force by Ethnicity

White Population (4,887,500 in London at last census)

During incidents involving a white subject, 1 person in every 200 was subject to police force this year.

In total, there were 27,805 cases of force being used against white people.

Black Population (1,088,447 in London at last census)

When the subject was black, force was used against 1 person in every 50 this year. In total, 24,935 black people were subject to force at the hands of London police.

Black communities in London bear the brunt of police use of force, UK statistics reveal.

In 2017-18, the Metropolitan Police recorded 22,989 cases of force being used against black people – amounting to more than a third of all incidents that year.

South Asian Population (988,800 in London at last census) East Asian Population (522,800 in London at last census)

This year 7,596 asian people were subject to police force. Force was recorded to only have been used on 372 people of Chinese heritage (124,300 of whom were residing in London at last census) in 2018.

Use of Force by Age

18-34

DPP’s 2018 study reveals that the most likely targets for use of police force are aged between 18 and 34 years, with 38,038 instances this year being recorded.

35-49

This is the second most likely demographic to experience force at the hands of the police; 2018 saw 15,708 cases – less than half the amount relating to the younger group.

50-64

4,287 people between the ages of 50 and 64 were subject to police force in London this year, which constitutes less than a third of the number of cases experienced by 35-49 year olds.

65+

Force was used against 380 people over the age of 65 in London this last year.

Children

Amazingly, 46 instances of force were recorded as having been used against children under the age of 10.

Police Use of Firearms

Police firearms operations have increased by 19% since the year ending March 2018, with instances rising from 15,809 to 18,746 throughout England and Wales.

This is the highest number of firearms operations the country has seen since as long ago as 2011 – however, the overall amount has actually decreased by 19% since 2009.

The number of armed officers within the UK police force has risen by 3% since 2017, with 6,459 permitted to carry weapons as opposed to last year’s 6278.

How Does This Compare to Crime Rates Within the UK?

Considering the higher number of UK police officers now carrying weapons, it would seem logical for rates of serious crime to drop as a result. It should be considered, though, that while more of our officers are armed, we now have fewer law enforcement officials employed in England and Wales since comparable records began more than two decades ago in 1996.

As of the year-end of March 2018..

As a possible result, cases of murder – which were in decline up until 2014 – have actually increased for the fourth consecutive year. This particular type of crime tends to occur more frequently in London and other major cities. Firearms offences, too, have risen by 2%, and knife crime has seen a 16% increase.

Robbery rates have increased by almost a third, while vehicle-related theft is up by 17%.

In fact, the only areas of crime that have seen any kind of decrease are computer-related offences, which are not combated by armed police officers.

The conclusion that may be drawn from these final statistics is that it is general police presence – rather than the number of officers who may carry weapons – that keeps serious crime rates from rising.

 

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