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Data collection method on police use of force defended by Government

Some said the process means officers are having to spend too long with paperwork.

The Government has defended the way in which data is collected on the use of force after criticism that some police officers are having to fill out a “cumbersome” 10-page form.

Forces in England and Wales have been compiling the data as part of a large-scale project, with constabularies due to start releasing the findings in the coming weeks.

Each time an officer uses force during an incident they must fill out a form, giving details including the reason for use and the age, gender and ethnicity of the subject.

The Home Office said the statistics will ensure transparency, and that reforms have done away with much of the previous bureaucracy.

A spokeswoman said: “Our police reforms have overhauled the previous cumbersome regime of top-down targets and unnecessary bureaucracy.

“But when officers take the difficult decision to deploy force it is vital that they can be scrutinised by the people they serve.

“These rules changes, which are police-led, bring unprecedented transparency and reinforce the proud British model of policing by consent.”

But some said the process means officers are having to spend too long with paperwork.

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The Home Office said the statistics will ensure transparency. (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The problem lies with IT disparities in forces across the country, according to Simon Kempton, national lead for operational policing with the Police Federation.

He said officers in some forces, including the Metropolitan Police, are able to use so-called smart forms and can have them completed in just a few minutes, while other areas are using spreadsheets which can take more than 20 minutes at a time.

Mr Kempton, who broadly welcomes the collection of the information, said: “Some forces are very forward-thinking with their IT, some forces are lagging behind in my opinion.

“You’ve got pockets of good practice where bobbies are saying ‘Yeah, I don’t mind this form, it takes two minutes’. They’ve got smart devices they can do it on the streets.”

He added: “In the worst cases, bobbies are having to fill out an Excel spreadsheet, and you can imagine how cumbersome that can be.

“What I’m hearing from some officers is that just one form, and a simple one at that, can take more than 20 minutes because it’s cumbersome, because you haven’t got the smart form dragging across the information from another database.”

He said he is “pushing hard” for more investment to ensure IT systems are updated.

The transparency drive will see the first detailed statistics on the use of force published, in the first instance, in the form of quarterly snapshots released by individual forces.

A national overview is set to be published next year.

The figures will compliment those already available on the uses of Tasers and firearms.

Senior officers say the project is at an early stage and it will be some time before firm conclusions can be drawn, adding that the local force releases should not be compared with each other.

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