Police use force hundreds of times on Notts children

Nottinghamshire Police used force tactics – including police dogs – hundreds of times on children last year, figures reveal.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 4:14 pm

The Howard League for Penal Reform said police forces should reduce the ‘worrying’ rise in use of force incidents involving children.

Home Office statistics show Nottinghamshire Police used force tactics on under-18s on 828 occasions in 2020-21 – with 19 involving children under 11.

This was down from 922 the year before, but up from 685 in 2018-19 – the first year such figures were recorded at police force level.

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Across England and Wales, 77,000 use of force tactics on children were recorded in 2020-21 – including 551 on under-11s.

Last year, Nottinghamshire officers handcuffed children 489 times and used 11 limb or body restraints.

Officers also recorded three instances of batons being used, seven times when batons were drawn and seven occasions when dogs were used – four of which resulted in dog bites being inflicted.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Hooks, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Our highly-trained officers are entrusted with the power to use force to carry out their duties in protecting both the public and themselves from danger only if it is absolutely necessary, reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

“Any use of force is recorded and scrutinised to ensure it is used correctly.”

Across England and Wales, 77,000 uses of force tactics on children were recorded in 2020-21 – including 551 on under-11s.

The number of tactics used on under-18s was up 8 per cent from 72,000 a year before, and the most since national comparable records began in 2017-18.

Andrew Neilson, Howard League director of campaigns, said: “A steep rise in the police use of force against children is a worrying trend, particularly when the levels of children arrested remain thankfully low.

“Police forces should review what might be behind this rise and work to reduce the number of incidents involving children.”

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Officers across the two nations drew or fired Taser devices 2,600 times on children in 2020-21 – with 20 uses logged by Nottinghamshire Police.

However, none of these saw the device discharged.

Taser weapons are designed to temporarily incapacitate someone with an electric shock – either fired at someone from a distance or held against their body to stun them.

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England wants their use on children banned, or permitted in only the rarest situations.

Louise King, CRAE director, said that even when not fired, a Taser gun is still ‘frightening and traumatic’ to be threatened with.

She said police argue the weapons help protect the public and police officers, but that ‘shouldn’t come at the cost of children’s safety and human rights’.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said a Taser weapon is only discharged in 10 per cent of uses, and each one must be fully recorded, proportionate and justified.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, NPCC lead for self-defence and restraint, said officers must protect people of all ages from harming themselves or others, often in fast-moving violent scenarios.

He said: “Officers receive guidance and training with the starting point being they should attempt to resolve confrontations with the public without the need to use force.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said a change in the number of incidents is likely a consequence of improved recording methods and should not be seen as a worrying increase in the use of force.

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