Use of Force statistics released

Statistics showing the number of times officers have had to use force across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have been released.


As part of a national push for increased openness and transparency, details of every occasion officers have had to use a tactic to protect the public from harm have been recorded and are being published for each of the three forces.

‘Use of Force’ covers a wide variety of ways of calming situations, including Unarmed Defence Tactics, cooperative handcuffing and the drawing and use of Taser.

Officers across the tri-force have been formally recording ‘Use of Force’ incidents since October – filling in forms for each incident if they were present. This means a single use of force may be recorded several times if more than one officer was on the scene at the time.

Statistics are expected to rise over the coming months as officers get used to the new process.

A summary of findings from April to June include:

  • Hertfordshire has had an average of 896 forms a month, while Cambridgeshire has seen 419 and Bedfordshire 220.
  • The most effective and commonly used forms of force were handcuffing and unarmed defensive tactics, with the majority of those subjected to force were white men, aged 18 to 34. The majority of incidents were in large cities and towns including Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, Stevenage in Hertfordshire and Luton in Bedfordshire.
  • Frontline uniformed patrol and response officers were most likely to need to use force.
  • The number of time officers were injured during incidents was also recorded in the findings – with officers being injured on 269 occasions between April and June.

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Colbourne, health and safety lead for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, said: “Our officers are confronted with difficult situations every day. They walk towards danger when others walk away, thinking and acting quickly to keep people safe. This data gives insight into what being a police officer involves and the challenges they deal with on society’s behalf.

Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary. Using a small amount of force through handcuffing or a form of restraint can quickly calm a situation down or prevent the individual or others coming to harm.

However, it is imperative that we are completely open and transparent around when and why we use force and this data will allow us to see whether techniques were proportionate and necessary. It is yet another tool, along with body worn video cameras, that will allow the public to scrutinise our actions to build confidence and trust in the police service.

This is obviously a new process and we fully expect the figures to rise over time as officers get used to recording every incident.”

Chairman of Bedfordshire Police Federation, Jim Mallen said: “Every day across Bedfordshire we ask our police officers to deal with exceptionally challenging incidents which are often emotionally charged and aggravated by alcohol, drugs or mental health. On occasions police officers will have to use force to protect the public and themselves.

Our officers are highly trained and use conflict resolution before having to use force. Use of force data is important so long as the information is used within the context of how challenging police work is and the situations officers are confronted with.”