Brent's police chief calls for public support as video on use of force is released
- Credit: Met Police
"Sometimes using more than one officer is the safest way to resolve a situation for everyone concerned."
So says Chief Superintendent Roy Smith, who has launched a video as he wants to engage with the public about how arrests are carried out.
In the video, Brent's borough commander discusses how and gives advice on how people can give feedback about what they see or experience.
Human rights organisation Liberty has criticised the video, saying rather than emphasising "confrontational" tactics, a new approach is needed "which doesn’t rely on yet more coercive policing".
Ch Supt Smith, who also oversees policing in Harrow and Barnet, said: “Policing by its very nature is unpredictable and fast moving and things aren’t always as clear cut as they seem to those who see the encounter from the outside.
“We know that some encounters between the police and the public look chaotic and at times even distressing.
"But police officers often place themselves in danger to keep our communities safe."
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He said he recently arrived at a scene to a person reported as unconscious. He said when the man had got to his feet he saw him reaching for a "hunting knife" and restrained.
“A crowd had gathered outside, and without the wider context, it appeared to them like I had simply pushed a young man up against a window and was using a level of force which was not necessary," he said.
“People were shouting at me and many were filming on their mobile phones."
After the arrest, Ch Supt Smith said he showed the crowd the knife, "explaining that this weapon could have been used to kill or seriously hurt someone they love".
He said force is always used "as a last resort" but is "sometimes necessary", adding that he hopes the video will help people better understand the police's job.
In response to the video, Rosalind Comyn, policy and campaigns manager for Liberty, said: “The ongoing failure from police and government to address discrimination in the use of police powers, and across the criminal justice system, is causing lasting harm to people’s lives, and entire communities.
"Emphasising aggressive and confrontational policing tactics will only worsen the racist over-policing of people of colour. It’s clear that a new approach is needed to keep communities safe which doesn’t rely on yet more coercive policing.”