Dorset PCC Publishes Independent Review into Use of Force
The Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner today published the results of an independent review into the Use of Force at Dorset Police.
The report reviewed law and policy, governance and recording practices, Use of Force data comparison and the use of Taser in custody.
Dorset Police and the Dorset OPCC have accepted all six of the review’s recommendations and have set out how they intend to implement each of them. A series of actions have already addressed several of the review’s recommendations. All of the remaining recommendations will be implemented as soon as possible.
In December 2014, Martyn Underhill, wrote to Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Debbie Simpson, to formalise his concerns in respect of the use of Taser, specifically within police custody suites and involving individuals with mental health issues. Following further consideration, the PCC commissioned an audit of the police Use of Force in Dorset.
The key findings of the independent review are:
- Details were provided of the ten occasions during 2013/14 when Taser was deployed in Dorset. None of the records disclosed give concern that Taser is being deployed in Dorset custody suites in a manner which is disproportionate to the threat perceived by officers concerned. However, in the minority of cases where a Taser authority has been granted, there is a lack of detailed rationale leading to the authority.
- In only one case of certainty, and possibly one other, Taser appears to have been deployed spontaneously where it could be argued that the provision of space and time would have allowed for an authority to be sought and may have secured compliance without a deployment.
- There are significant gaps in reporting of the Use of Force in Dorset but the review does identify that individual reports are subject of some scrutiny.
The six recommendations of the independent review are:
- That the PCC seeks clarity nationally towards developing clearer guidance on differing escalation in the Use of Force.
- Dorset Police to commission an overarching policy which covers the Force’s perspective and outlook on the Use of Force, the allocation of responsibilities and in particular governance in respect of recording, analysing and scrutinising the Use of Force in Dorset
- Dorset Police to review the arrangements for recording, submitting and reviewing Use of Force reports at an organisational level which rationalises responsibilities and ensures proper scrutiny of higher level Use of Force incidents, regardless of whether the matters reported are subject of a complaint against police.
- The PCC CEO to work with Dorset Chief Officer Team to introduce a process of analysis and oversight of the Use of Force using statistical data and establish an appropriate forum for its review and discussion at a strategic level.
- Dorset Police to develop and issue clear instructions as to expectations of Taser deployment in specific circumstances such as searching and cell exit.
- Dorset Chief Officer Team to direct a review of Operational Support Armed Policing Standard operating Procedure for Taser to include specific requirements in respect of notification of spontaneous Taser deployments and records maintained by the Independent Firearms Incident Commander (IFIC).
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “I welcome the report findings and hope that this will lead to better governance and stronger scrutiny of the Use of Force in Dorset. In this country we police by consent and the public require reassurance that any force used by the police is appropriate and available to be scrutinised.”
The review had the full co-operation of Dorset Police and benefited from input from the Police Federation and Unison.