What is Use of Force?
The law allows the police to use reasonable force when necessary in order to carry out their role of law enforcement.
While we always look to utilise other operational means where we can, Use of Force remains an important tactic for our officers when dealing with more difficult suspects.
In England and Wales the use of (reasonable) force is provided to police and any other person under Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, which states "a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large".
Persons serving with the police may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purpose of:
- self defence
- defence of another
- defence of property
- prevention of crime
- lawful arrest
Why do we have Use of Force?
Ensuring police legitimacy in the eyes of the communities we serve is important in maintaining and building public confidence in the police.
Several strategic themes within policing play an important role in building legitimacy, one of which is the police use of force. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) recognise the importance of police legitimacy as a central aspect of the national assessment framework, in order to ensure:
- Forces treat people with fairness and respect;
- Their workforces act ethically and lawfully;
- Those workforces feel they have been treated with fairness and respect by the forces
According to a 2015 report carried out on belhalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), there is a high level of public trust in the police to use reasonable force. More than four in five people that responded to that report said they trust the police (either a lot or a fair amount) to use reasonable force.