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Use of Force data publication scheme


We are committed to keeping the communities of Dorset safe and work hard to do this through preventative work within our local communities. However, there will always be occasions when we will have to resort to using force to achieve control of people who resist or are violent, to make sure people are safe.

We cannot keep the public safe unless we ourselves are safe. Our staff are confronted with difficult and dangerous situations every day. They walk towards danger when others walk away, thinking and acting quickly to keep people safe, and, as part of these duties, officers will occasionally need to use force.

All frontline officers and staff, regardless of rank or department, receive special training, which is to ensure the safety of the officer or staff member, the public and the subject. The training includes the use of personal protection equipment [PPE] and depending on individual roles, can include the use of body armour, handcuffs, batons, synthetic pepper spray, restraint devices and tasers. The training also equips officers to show the justification necessary to ensure that applying force is reasonable, proportionate, lawful and necessary. All officers and staff have to refresh their training annually.

In addition to this Authorised Firearms Officers [AFOs] have a separate rigorous training regime in the use of their special weapons and tactics.

All officers when resorting to using any force – even the compliant application of handcuffs - must submit a report describing the circumstances. The information this provides is scrutinised to ensure that any learning can be acted upon to minimise the chance of injury to both officers and subjects in future incidents. 

Why is Dorset Police releasing this data?

From April 1, 2017, a new way of recording use of force became mandatory for all police forces, with officers required to fill out a form every time any type of force was used in the course of their duties. In line with police forces around the country, we are committed to releasing this data on a quarterly basis.

This data gives insight into what being a police officer or member of staff involves, and the challenges they deal with on society’s behalf. It also provides greater transparency than ever before into how and why force is used, strengthening the vital relationship between the police and the public that is at the heart of this country's model of policing by consent. Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when necessary. This data help us to identify and act on any instances where this may not be the case.

This data is used to help us compare the effectiveness of different techniques which underpins evidence-based decisions about training, tactics and equipment.

How is the data recorded?

From 1 April, 2017, it became compulsory for officers to complete use of force forms after any such incident – including both compliant and non-compliant handcuffing, the use of a form of restraint, a Taser, or irritant spray.

The published data has had personal details removed along with any details which could lead to the identification of a specific incident.

How does Dorset Police use the data?

Collecting this key data will allow us the opportunity to identify organisational learning where appropriate, ultimately helping to shape and guide how we deliver training to our frontline staff. Our intention moving forward is to utilise this data to identify means of improving our core personal safety training to ensure we continue to protect the public and our officers and staff.

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What is Force?

A Taser is a less-lethal single shot weapon designed to temporarily incapacitate a suspect through the use of an electrical current.

It is a hand-held weapon similar in shape and size to a pistol, but is bright yellow in colour.

The Taser, used by UK police officers, uses an electrical current which interferes with the body’s neuromuscular system. It allows officers to deal with violent or potentially violent people at a distance.

Taser is usually held in a holster on an officer’s belt or vest along with other officer safety equipment. It is clearly visible, being yellow and black, designed to stand out and be identified as a Taser.

Dorset Police Authorised Firearms Officers (AFO) are required to attend a range of incidents where they may have to protect the public or themselves from a person who is in possession of, or who has immediate access to a firearm or other potentially lethal weapon. In order to mitigate the threats posed by these persons it may be required that AFO’s use firearms or less lethal weapons in the course of their duty. 

When a police officer makes use of a firearm or less lethal weapon by deliberately pointing it or by discharging the weapon, for example, that will constitute a use of force for which the officer is both legally and organisationally accountable.

A police officer will be deemed to have used a firearm or a less lethal weapon when it is:

  • pointed or aimed at another person
  • fired at another person
  • discharged in any other operational circumstances, including an unintentional discharge.

Rigid Metal Handcuffs are a physical restraint designed to be applied to the wrist and can be used if a person is violent, potentially violent, an escapee or a potential escapee. They are adjustable to accommodate differing wrist sizes and once applied they have a locking mechanism which prevents them getting tighter.

It is not necessary for the person to be under arrest for handcuffs to be applied.

If an officer feels that one of the above criteria applies it justifies their use.

Specialist officers may have access to sets of plasticuffs.

Each use of handcuffs must be reported as a use of force.

General purpose police dogs are able to:

•Track across rural and urban areas

•Search and locate people in buildings

•Search and locate people in open areas and woodland

•Search and locate property in rural and urban areas

•Chase and detain fleeing suspects

•Detain armed suspects (not firearms)

•Protect officers and handler at scenes of minor and large scale public order

•Contain premises or areas during firearms operations

•Work as firearms support dogs (FSD'S) working closely with the ARV's and Firearms Teams in locating armed suspects

•Work with firearms officers deployed with the baton gun

•Work with firearms officers deployed with the Taser


They must also

•Conform to Home Office guidelines regarding safety and control

•Re license every 12 months to allow them to work on the streets

As you can see we ask a lot of our dogs and a lot of time and effort goes into making sure that the dogs are kept to a sufficient standard to fulfill all these roles.

Officers are issued a 21 inch extendable metal baton with a soft grip handle.

It is carried either on a belt or the officers tactical vest.

It is a less lethal option which officers are able to use in an offensive or defensive capacity.

it can also be used a show of strength in order to de-escalate a situation.

Officers are trained to deliver strikes using various parts of their body. They are taught control and restraint techniques to safely restrain a person on the floor. This can include the use of the Limb Restraint System (LRS) which is a system of two Velcro straps three foot long, primarily designed to stop officers being kicked.


PAVA is an irritant spray dispensed from a handheld canister in a liquid stream. It gives officers the opportunity to deal with individuals at a distance. It mainly affects the eyes, causing intense discomfort and the eyes to close, providing officers with a tactical advantage.