As Commissioner how do you monitor police use of Tasers and ensure that relevant policy is followed and reviewed? How, in holding the Chief Constable to account, do you decide whether proportionate action has been taken in their use in particular instances? (Don Sloan)
1. The Commissioner recognised the importance of the Police ensuring appropriate use of force as it was closely related to the principle of Policing by Consent. Responding to the question, the Commissioner provided the Panel with an overview of Taser use by Kent Police:
· Home Office published data for calendar year 2016 showed that in Kent, Taser was:
§ Drawn/Aimed/Arced/Red dotted on 270 occasions
§ Discharged (drive stun or fired) on 37 occasions
· At my Performance & Delivery Board on 27 September 2017, received a further update on use of force, including Taser.
· Data showed that in the period April to June, Taser was:
§ Drawn/Aimed/Arced/Red dotted on 71 occasions
§ Discharged (drive stun or fired) on 13 occasions
· On an annual basis, the Chief Constable is required to provide an update on Use of Force (including Taser) to my Performance & Delivery Board.
· On a monthly basis, my office randomly reviews complaints against Kent Police – the use of Taser by Kent Police officers has not been identified as a specific issue.
· Whenever an officer draws their Taser, they are required to complete a Use of Force form which is signed by their supervisor, and subsequently submitted to the Staff Safety Training Unit for review – this team delivers officer safety training and monitors use and effectiveness of tactics.
· From 1 October 2016 it became mandatory for all UK police forces to accurately and consistently record use of force. From 1 April 2017, all forces required to submit data to Home Office.
· On 31 July 2017, Use of Force information was published on the Kent Police website to provide greater transparency and accessibility to data.
2. The Commissioner clarified that in terms of determining the proportionality of Taser deployment, this was an operational issue and would be based on the particular circumstances in each instance. A process was in place, requiring Officers to justify their use of Taser whenever it was deployed, which was managed internally by Kent Police. The Commissioner confirmed that as the decision to use Taser had to be based on Officer discretion in each set of circumstances, it was not for him to comment. However, he reassured the Panel that his office regularly dip-checks police complaints and that Taser use had not been flagged as an issue. The Commissioner also explained that he requested that historic data on Taser use, pre-dating the requirement to submit these figures to the Home Office, be published in the interest of transparency and accountability. The Commissioner commented that he had no particular concerns regarding Taser use as it was just one of a number of necessary tools Officers had at their disposal for resolving challenging situations and that he thought it was important for there to be a number of non-lethal options to minimise the risk of having to deploy lethal force.
Can the Commissioner provide an update on how he has been holding the Chief Constable to account in relation to delivering the Kent Police priority 'Combat organised crime and gangs', particularly regarding work to limit the spread of drugs into Kent from London? (Malcolm Dearden)
3. The Commissioner advised the Panel that tackling organised crime and the associated drug activities were key priorities for him and Kent Police and that they featured as part of a standing item at every Performance & Delivery Board meeting. He explained that at the December board meeting, updates had been provided regarding ongoing work by Kent Police and partners to disrupt gang related criminality and to map out gang routes into and around Kent.
4. The Commissioner explained that tackling organised crime was key part of Kent Police’s Control Strategy and that there had been several successful police operations, the details of which had been made public such as operations which focused on drug dealing across the border between Kent and London involving Kent Police working with the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police as well as Op Raptor, which had been set up following the murder of Kyle Yule in Medway and focused on preventing and disrupting serious and violent crime. He also outlined Op Marley which involved joint work with the Met tackling Moped linked cross-border gang crime.The Commissioner commented that a key part of all this work was engaging and working in partnership with other important agencies such as neighbouring Forces and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
5. The Commissioner confirmed that Kent Police were always looking for ways to enhance their capacity to tackle serious crime and that he expected ongoing partnership work with the Met and other partners around Operation Raptor to continue to deliver good results. He also commented that he expected the uplift in Police Officer numbers to contribute to further good work in this area.
RESOLVED that the Panel note the Commissioners answers.