Recommendations from research led to a new national reporting system on use of force for all police forces across England and Wales – improving transparency, accountability and police practices.
- Dr Abi Dymond's survey and recommendations for police reporting of use of force in England and Wales contributed directly to a new national use of force reporting system, introduced in April 2017.
- Under this new system all 43 police forces in England and Wales now have a single, standardised form to report in detail every use of ‘less-lethal’ force, including Tasers, batons, irritant sprays and restraint.
- At least 30 police forces in England and Wales have reviewed policies or practices, including officer safety training, issuing body armour and internal monitoring procedures, based on the new national system.
- Nine of Dr Dymond’s 10 recommendations for standardised reporting requirements were accepted in part or in full, leading to new requirements for all officers to complete their own incident report and record crucial details – such as whether weapons were drawn but not used, injuries to the officer or member of the public, and the gender, ethnicity and age of the individuals involved.
- This anonymised data is now made publicly available by police forces every quarter and will be published as annual statistics by the Home Office from September 2018.
- Dr Dymond is a member of the College of Policing's Guideline Review Committee currently providing guidance to police officers on how to improve their own and the public's safety by resolving potentially violent situations without using force.
"Abi Dymond’s research into the current status of police use of force recording provided a vital evidence base for the review, and an essential platform on which meaningful recommendations could be made on the recording of data in the future." (Neil Pattinson, Deputy Head of Police Powers Unit, Home Office)
About the research
Information on police use of firearms in England and Wales has been readily available, but until Dr Abi Dymond's research much less was known about police use of less lethal methods of force such as Tasers, batons, irritant sprays, or simple restraint.
"Using force when necessary is a crucial part of policing, and the use of weapons can have far-reaching consequences for members of the public, officers and police legitimacy," Dr Dymond points out. Yet, previously there was no requirement for standard reporting of why less lethal force was employed, the kinds of force used and any resulting injuries to police or the public.
Three years ago, based on her PhD research into Taser use in England and Wales, Dr Dymond was invited to join a police-led strategic review into the reporting of all types of force used in policing. "Based in part on my recommendations to, and ongoing work with that body, we now have detailed and standardised data that can be scrutinised by journalists, civil society organisations, the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the police themselves," she says. "This will lead not only to greater transparency and accountability but to use of force in ways that are safer both for the public and police officers."
Dr Dymond attributes these positive impacts to the working relationship she built with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) during her PhD research. "It's easy to be discouraged as a PhD student and think that no-one will take your research seriously. But I approached the NPCC at the start of my PhD and that relationship has been key to my subsequent contributions. My advice to other early career researchers would be to approach senior decision-makers in your field as early as possible."