Use of force in South Yorkshire

Date published: 08 September 2023 15:12

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.

A computer generated graphic showing various statistics relating to the Use of Force by SYP officers between the months of April and June 2023, including the number of people it was used on, the use of tactics used, gender, age and ethnicity breakdowns and the number of people affected by mental health involved

What does Use of Force cover?

According to the government, a use of force incident is defined as a situation in which a police officer uses any of the following force tactics on a single individual:

Restraint tactics:

  • handcuffing (compliant or non-compliant)
  • limb and or body restraints
  • ground restraint
  • unarmed skills

This includes distraction strikes with hands and feet and pressure point and joint locks to help restrain individuals.

Use of other equipment:

  • baton (including where it was drawn but not used)
  • irritant spray (including where it was drawn but not used)
  • spit and bite guard
  • shield (e.g. individual struck or pushed with a shield)

Less lethal weapons:

  • Conducted Energy Device (CED, e.g. TASER®), including where it was used with being discharged (drive stun, fired, angled drive-stun) or used without being discharged (drawn, aimed, red-dot, arced)
  • Attenuating Energy Projectile (AEP) (including whether it was drawn but not used, or used)


  • this refers to the use of conventional firearms, including where the firearm was aimed or fired


  • use of dogs (including where a dog was deployed but did not come into contact with (i.e. bite) the individual)
  • other and/or improvised

External scrutiny panels

As part of our Use of Force policy within the force, we wish to remain as transparent as possible regarding how our officers deploy Use of Force tactics while dealing with difficult situations.

This year, SYP opened up a new scrutiny panel to help us improve and shape our Use of Force powers, and asked members of the public to get involved.

Panel members look through examples of incidents which included a Use of Force tactic being implemented, and why and how these powers were used.

To find out more and enquire about joining, email Inspector Louise Lambert with your contact details at louise.lambert@southyorks.pnn.police.uk

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