Dated: 20 Dec 2018

POLICY TITLE: Use of Force 

OWNING DIRECTORATE: Local Policing & Operations  

AUTHOR: Superintendent, Communications and Operations Department  





AIM OF POLICY: To outline the required standards for Northumbria Police regarding any potential use of force. 

BENEFIT OF POLICY: Officers and staff are aware of their responsibilities regarding all use of force. 

REASON FOR POLICY: To provide an over-arching policy governing the use of personal protection/safety equipment.  


Northumbria Police is committed to ‘delivering an outstanding service to our communities’ using the force Proud to Protect vision, mission and values and the Police Code of Ethics to underpin all service delivery and decision making.  

Northumbria Police Proud to Protect Mission: 

  • Proud of what we do & Proud of who we are 

Northumbria Police Proud to Protect Values: 

  • Proud to Serve 
  • Proud of our People 
  • Proud to Improve 
  • Proud to Lead 

Code of Ethics Nine Policing Principles: 

  • Accountability 
  • Fairness 
  • Honesty 
  • Integrity 
  • Leadership 
  • Objectivity  
  • Openness 
  • Respect 
  • Selflessness 

The use of force by Northumbria Police officers and staff must be necessary for a purpose permitted by law such as self-defence, defence of another, to prevent crime or to effect a lawful arrest.  

The amount of force used must be reasonable and proportionate, that is, the force used must be no more than the minimum required in the circumstances to achieve the lawful objective. Force should be used only as a last resort which means other options should have been tried first (and have failed) or have at least been actively considered before being discounted as impracticable. Otherwise, it is likely that the use of force will be excessive and unlawful. 

Whenever the use of force is necessary, it is expected that officers and staff concerned will: 

· Respect and protect human life and do their best to minimise injury. 

· Exercise restraint and ensure that their responses are necessary and proportionate. 

· Ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected person at the earliest opportunity. 

Those responsible for the planning and control of operations where use of force is a possibility should plan and conduct those operations so as to minimise, to the greatest extent possible, recourse to force. 

Use of Force - Guidelines for Northumbria Police 

Police officers and staff should have regard to: 

· all available options at their disposal. 

· the National Decision Model (NDM).  

· Northumbria Police policy and procedure and ensure that they use techniques and/or equipment for which they have been trained and are currently accredited.  

and shall: 

· exercise maximum restraint in the use of force and act in strict proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved.  

· preserve human life and minimise injury to persons.  

· ensure that assistance and medical aid are provided to any injured person at the earliest opportunity.  

NB: Every effort should be made to resolve conflict without resorting to the use of force. 

Special considerations for children or vulnerable persons 

Special consideration in relation to any use of force should be given to dealing with children or other persons who may be emotionally or mentally distressed. This term includes persons who have some form of learning disability or individuals whose judgement may be temporarily impaired through use of alcohol and/or drugs. Such persons may behave in an unexpected, extreme or challenging manner when confronted by police officers or staff. 

Officer Responsibilities 

The primary responsibility for using force rests with the individual officer or member of staff who must individually justify the force that they use. Obedience to the orders of a supervisor is no defence if a police officer or staff member knew that the order to use force was unlawful.  

Any police officer who has a reason to believe that improper force has been used or is about to be used by another police officer, shall, to the best of their capability, prevent any such use of force and, if after the event, report the same to a supervisor at the earliest opportunity.  

Supervisory officers are potentially liable for the actions of their subordinates if they did not prevent inappropriate use of force or failed to report the same.  

Use of Force Recording  

The Home Office requires each force in the country to provide data on all use of force nationally. Northumbria Police comply with this data collection. 

Commander Responsibilities 

Whilst individual officers are accountable for any use of force, so are the commanders of any operation where force is ultimately used. Commanders must take steps to minimise, to the greatest extent possible, any need for a police officer to use force. For example, commanders should:  

· Set the policing style and tone of an operation so as to minimise potential conflict and to encourage officers to avoid resort to the use of force except where necessary  

· Evaluate all available tactical options, particularly less intrusive or threatening options, before considering escalation.  

· Consider the potential consequences of placing officers into direct contact with persons in a manner which increases the likelihood of the necessity to use force. 

· Consider whether staff are sufficiently trained, experienced and competent for the specific deployment proposed. 

· Ensure clarity of their command decisions 


Police officers and staff are reminded of their personal responsibility to identify their training and/or refresher training needs and to bring these to the attention of their supervisors. NPCC has recommended a minimum of 12 hours Personal Safety Training each year. 

There is a personal responsibility upon all officers and members of staff to attend relevant training courses as detailed. 

Commanders and Heads of Departments are responsible for ensuring that those under their command are provided with regular opportunities to attend required training.  



GROUPS AFFECTED: All officers and staff 


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