WILTSHIRE: How much force are our police officers using?

WILTSHIRE: How much force are our police officers using?

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 7:30am 5th January 2020.

3 minute read

Figures have revealed how often tasers, batons or pepper spray had to be used on suspects last year.

The Home Office numbers show the number of times stun guns were drawn by officers nearly DOUBLED in 2018/19.

Tasers were taken out on 309 occasions during the year - up from 164 times in the previous year.

Police officers in Salisbury - policeman - police woman - Wiltshire Police
Police officers in Wiltshire have drawn their tasers on nearly twice as many occasions in the last year

But the weapons were only discharged in 8% of those incidents, or 24 times.

In 109 cases, officers 'red-dotted' a suspect as a deterrent - that's when the taser is partially activated and a laser target appears on the person the stun gun's aimed at.

Nationally, tasers were deployed 2,700 times.


The Home Office says the rise in usage could be as a result of more officers being taser-trained, or more incidents in which officers face 'the potential for conflict'.

Police Officers - Child and Youth Offender stats story (RADAR AI)
Officers are facing more incidents in which force might be required

Police Federation vice-chair Ché Donald said: 

"With the Government and an increased number of chief constables backing a wider roll-out of Taser, it is unsurprising there were more incidents where this tactical option was selected.

"But the fact that the figure for instances where the Taser was drawn but not discharged remains so constant reaffirms how effective it can be in de-escalating situations.

"The red dot alone continues to be enough to diffuse the vast majority of incidents without the need to pull the trigger."

handcuffs pixabay
The use of force by police officers can include 'forcibly handcuffing' suspects


The figures also show that Wiltshire Police officers needed to 'use force' against suspects 1,940 times during 2019/19.

'Use of force' includes things like using pepper spray, striking a suspect with a baton or forcibly handcuffing someone.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said force 'is rarely used' during officers' day-to-day duties:

"As the public would expect, most forms of restraint used by officers involve the use of handcuffs in order to arrest an individual.

"It is no surprise that force is often used in cases where the person restrained is drunk or under the influence of drugs as experience shows these suspects can often be the most difficult and dangerous."

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