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Develop a use of force scrutiny panel

Due to the nature of policing, it is inevitable that police officers will need to use force while exercising their duties. This will occur during arrest, while protecting the public from harm and, in some instances, to protect the subject from causing harm to themselves.

The use of force, which includes a variety of tactics from compliant handcuffing through to the discharge of a firearm, is rightly governed by strict rules and processes. The public expects that police officers will only use force when absolutely necessary and their use of force will be proportionate to the circumstances.

From time to time police officers make mistakes and, sadly, there will also be rare occasions in which officers do not meet the standards expected of them. The Police and Crime Commissioner wants to ensure effective scrutiny is in place for the use of force – he also has a wider interest, given his national roles that include the use of force portfolio, as well as being chair of the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA).

In order that members of the public can have continued confidence in Dorset Police’s use of force, the PCC has established an independent scrutiny panel.

This Use of Force Scrutiny Panel comprises independent members of the public. It reviews a random selection of cases in which use of force is applied, with the panel determining whether each use of force was appropriate and proportionate given the circumstances.

The panel does this by reviewing performance data, Force use of force forms, completed by the police officers involved, and also considers footage captured by Body Worn Video. Feedback and recommendations are passed on to the Force for action and consideration.

The panel publishes an Annual Report of its activity, as well as quarterly summaries of the issues that it considers. Dorset Police has welcomed this additional level of scrutiny and has implemented a number of improvements following the panel’s advice.

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