Why hundreds of Avon and Somerset Police officers could be stopped from using handcuffs

285 response officers requiring safety training on using handcuffs  285 response officers requiring safety training on using handcuffs
285 response officers requiring safety training on using handcuffs
‘There is a risk that these police officers may still be deployed into public-facing roles’

Nearly 300 response officers in Avon and Somerset Police could be prevented from using their handcuffs or Taser – because their safety training has lapsed.

More than 700 warranted staff have not completed an annual refresher course on use of force, first aid and dealing with conflict, meaning they are considered “non-deployable to public-facing roles”.

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The force has been warned it risks severe legal, financial and reputational harm if an officer injures or kills a suspect while their training is out of date.

However, crews can still be deployed if their supervisors complete a risk assessment.

A report to the police joint audit committee’s meeting in October said: “Where PST [personal safety training] lapses, police officers are considered non-deployable to public-facing roles and do not have the authority to carry a Taser, PAVA [an incapacitant spray similar to pepper spray], batons, handcuffs etc.

“There is a risk that these police officers may still be deployed into public-facing roles.

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“Where a police officer with expired PST deploys use of force tactics that subsequently injures or kills a suspect, this could result in severe legal, financial and reputational harm for the force.”

The report says the force wants to ensure that no emergency response driver or Taser carrier will be allowed to perform their skill if their personal safety training, fitness test or first aid training has expired.

Around half of the 700 officers whose training had lapsed were in desk-based roles, while some 300 individuals were off sick or absent and unable to complete the course.

Mike Carter, the head of training at the force, said: “There is often a lapse between PST end date and scheduling. Many forces actually have a 15-month window in order to requalify, but we strictly adhere to the 12 months for record keeping and strive to meet this wherever possible.

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“We currently have 285 response officers out of accreditation, but these are all scheduled training dates and will be within the 15-month window.

“We do not prevent officers from being deployed without their PST accreditation, as long as the supervisor has completed a risk assessment.

“The main aspect being, is it within three months of their accreditation lapsing and have they been scheduled a training date?

“With the challenge of accrediting 3,000 officers and around 500 police staff every year, there will always be some time delay between scheduling versus officer shifts and maintaining minimum staffing levels to meet the daily demand.”

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By the end of March 1,000 officers will be sent on a new two-day training piloted with the College of Policing to teach improved safety skills and de-escalation techniques that has already been provided to 300 frontline officers.

A one-day course is also offered to investigators.

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