Use of Force
Police use of force
Police officers will use force only where it is appropriate. Responsibility rests with the police officer exercising that force and when faced with situations that may require it, they will consider the following core questions
- would the use of force have a lawful objective (eg, the prevention of injury to others or damage to property, or the effecting of a lawful arrest) and, if so, how immediate and grave is the threat posed?
- are there any means, short of the use of force, capable of attaining the lawful objective identified?
- having regard to the nature and gravity of the threat, and the potential for adverse consequences to arise from the use of force (including the risk of escalation and the exposure of others to harm) what is the minimum level of force required to attain the objective identified, and would the use of that level of force be proportionate or excessive?
Officers must be able to show that the use of force was lawful, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances.
Core Principles and Legislation
When using force, officers are governed by the following legislation:
- Section 117 PACE 1984 (when an arrest is made force may be used)
- Human Rights Act 1998 (force must always be proportionate, legal, officers are accountable and it must have been necessary)
- Section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967 (officers may use reasonable force in the circumstances to prevent crime)
- Common Law (an officer may use force to protect themselves or another)
Find out more about the core principles of use of force on the College of Policing website