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Metropolitan Police officers will ‘ask themselves’ 44 questions when restraining suspects

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A new Met Police policy on handcuffing sparked by complaints black communities were being targeted excessively expects officers to ask themselves 44 questions.

The mammoth decision process is laid out in full in the new 25-page document published by Scotland Yard.

It puts into official policy nearly 50 questions officers should consider when they are using the police-issue restraints.

They include ‘Consider the ethics, any research evidence, What is happening?’ as well as ‘What do I not know?’.

There is also advice to mull over  ‘Could I explain my action or decision in public?’ and ‘What would the victim or community affected expect of me in this situation?’ 

Most are from the College of Policing’s National Decision Model but are now enshrined in the official equipment policy. 

Also featured is an alphabet themed guide to handcuffing that warns to ‘Always ask the suspect if the cuffs are too tight’.

It includes the advice to ‘always double-lock the handcuffs’. 

The Alphabet-themed ABCDE of handcuffing was also part of the new policy document

The Alphabet-themed ABCDE of handcuffing was also part of the new policy document

Commissioner Cressida Dick at the CST (Community Security Trust) Business Lunch at Nobu

Commissioner Cressida Dick at the CST (Community Security Trust) Business Lunch at Nobu

The Met publicised the new policy this morning, which comes after a review by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist. 

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said: ‘My number one priority remains tackling violent crime and keeping people safe from street crime – which is blighting the lives of too many young people.

‘Alongside that, I have set out to increase the trust and confidence of communities in their police service.

‘We know that not all communities have the same level of trust in us – I am determined to change that.

‘The handcuffing review could not have taken place effectively without the input and contribution of many front line police officers and members of the public. I thank them all for their time, effort and valuable honesty.’

The review was carried out into the handcuffing of people within the Met force area in London

The review was carried out into the handcuffing of people within the Met force area in London

The 44 questions police should consider in Met handcuff policy 

1. Is what I am considering consistent with the Code of Ethics?

2. What would the victim or community affected expect of me in this situation?

3. What does the police service expect of me in this situation?

4. Is this action or decision likely to reflect positively on my professionalism and policing generally?

5. Could I explain my action or decision in public?

6. What is happening?

7. What do I know so far?

8. What do I not know?

9. What further information (or intelligence) do I want/need at this moment?

10. Do I need to take action immediately?

11. Do I need to seek more information?

12. What could go wrong (and what could go well)?

13. What is causing the situation?

14. How probable is the risk of harm?

15. How serious would it be?

16. Is that level of risk acceptable?

17. Is this a situation for the police alone to deal with?

18. Am I the appropriate person to deal with this?

19. What am I trying to achieve?

20. Will my action resolve the situation?

21. What police powers might be required?

22. Is there any national guidance covering this type of situation?

23. Do any local organisational policies or guidelines apply?

24. What legislation might apply?

25. Is there any research evidence?

26. If decision makers have to account for their decisions, will they be able to say they were proportionate, legitimate, necessary and ethical?

27. Reasonable in the circumstances facing them at the time? 

28. Does anyone else need to know what you have decided?

29. What happened as a result of your decision?

30. Was it what you wanted or expected to happen? 

31. How were the principles and standards of professional behaviour demonstrated during the situation?

32. What information or intelligence was available?

33. What factors (potential benefits and harms) were assessed?

34. What threat and risk assessment methods were used (if any)?

35. Was a working strategy developed and was it appropriate?

36. Were there any powers, policies and legislation that should have been considered? 

37. If policy was not followed, was this reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances?

38. How were feasible options identified and assessed?

39. Were decisions proportionate, legitimate, necessary and ethical?

40. Were decisions reasonable in the circumstances facing the decision maker?

41. Were decisions communicated effectively?

42. Were decisions and the rationale for them recorded as appropriate?

43. Were decisions monitored and reassessed where necessary?

44. What lessons can be learnt from the outcomes and how the decisions were made? 

The policy follows a review commissioned by the Met Commissioner Cressida Dick in 2019 into the use of handcuffs before an arrest has taken place.

It came after complaints from black communities they were being disproportionately targeted.

The Met said the review would make sure the tactic, for which there is a sound legal basis in some circumstances, was justified and recorded on each occasion.

It fed in consultation responses from young black men aged between 16 to 25 years-old.

A Met spokeswoman said: ‘The launch of the policy, which covers all aspects of the use of handcuffs, is the final recommendation from the 2020 review to be implemented.

‘Officers are already receiving additional legal training, more public and personal safety training, with further emphasis on de-escalation; and more community input to understand the respective experiences of the public and police officers during encounters on the streets of London.’ 

Last October a highly criticial review of the Met’s use of stop and search powers has revealed officers stopped two black men after they were seen ‘fist bumping,’.

The review by the Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed the officers thought the pair had just completed a drug deal, in one of a number of issues raised by the watchdog.

It found handcuffs were used in nearly all instances where other tactics could have de-escalated an encounter, while officers also failed to use bodycam video from the outset of their interaction with some members of the public.

The IOPC said their review ‘mirrors concerns,’ already raised by communities in the Capital.

Regional director Sal Naseem said: ‘We saw a lack of understanding from officers about why their actions were perceived to be discriminatory.

‘We recommended the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) takes steps to ensure that assumptions, stereotypes and bias (conscious or unconscious) are not informing or affecting their officers’ decision-making on stop and search.’

The IOPC has now recommended 11 ways the Met Police can improve its use of stop and search powers.

The watchdog’s recommendations include offering better education of powers to officers, improving monitoring from above, ensuring racial prejudice is removed and making sure the stop and search encounter is ended swiftly after suspicion is allayed.

There were 558,973 stop and searches carried out in the year to March , 2020, under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Pace) in England and Wales, according to Home Office figures.

Just 13 per cent (73,423) of that year’s stop and searches led to an arrest – down from last year’s 15 per cent.

The increase in stop and searches was larger for white people in 2021 (with an increase of 95,562 to 280,661) than for black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds people (who saw an increase of 55,215 searches to 185,401).

But BAME people were stopped at a rate of 4.1 times higher than those who were white, a similar rate to the previous year (4.3), the report added.

And the rate of black people who were stopped and search per 1,000 of the population was at its highest since 2014 at 54, compared with 35 in 2014.

This is the highest number of stops and searches since 2013/14 (872,518), but still below the peak in 2010/11 (1,179,746), the report said.

It is also an increase of 193,419 (53%) compared to the 2018/19, when 365,554 searches were recorded.

Mr Naseem added: ‘The review highlights the need for the Met to reflect on the impact this kind of decision-making is having.

‘There is also a need to better support officers on the front line to do their jobs effectively with the right training and supervision so they aren’t subjected to further complaints and investigation. There is clearly much room for improvement.’

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