Brent police defend using batons twice as often as any other London police force
PUBLISHED: 10:20 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:20 01 February 2018
Police officers in Brent have used batons almost twice as many times as any other London force, new Metropolitan Police data has revealed.
Officers in Brent used their batons 25 times from April to November last year, almost double the figure for any other police force, despite the fact Brent has lower levels of violent crime than 14 other boroughs.
Lambeth and Southwark had the second highest use of batons, with 14 incidents each.
Use of weapons such as batons, Tasers, dogs and irritant sprays in Brent was also the third highest in the capital. Tasers were fired 16 times and police dogs have bitten people on two occasions.
Inspector Rob Webb, of Brent Police, described the figures as “very low” given the number of incidents police attend where violence is used by the suspect.
“I am in no way concerned by the figures for either baton or Taser use.
“None of the figures appear disproportionate,” he said.
“In Brent we have a culture of openness and transparency. We have nothing to hide,” he added.
The police use of force data has been published as part of new scheme introduced by the Home Office in April last year to provide “unprecedented transparency” of the way officers detain suspects.
It records the use of more common tactics like handcuffing and physical restraint, and more forceful tactics such as use of batons, Tasers, irritant spray and deployment of police dogs.
Kelly Oyebola, ex-probation officer and founder of Potential Mentoring, an organisation that works with young people at risk of offending in Brent, said he was concerned by the figures.
“A number of our young people often cite how brutal the police have been when either stopping or arresting them,” he said. “They have also commented that they have been branded as always being in a gang, even if they are not.”
Robert Quaye, formerly involved in Brent Independent Advisory Group, responsible for appraising police actions on behalf of residents, echoed the concern saying the use of force was “totally disproportionate”, adding: “Their harsh tactics are not conducive to building a strong community.”
Inspector Webb said: “Given the historical legacy of community scepticism regarding police tactics, it is understandable that certain sections of Brent’s youth may feel that police are robust in the use of stop and search or arrest tactics.”
He continued: “However from the published data, nothing leads me to believe that police officers in Brent are behaving in a disproportionately forceful way.”