Handcuffing: What is the Met's new policy and why has it been introduced?

What is the Metropolitan Police's new handcuffing policy?

What is the Met's new handcuffing policy? This explainer breaks down the new approach - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Met Police has introduced a new handcuffing policy for its officers.

Designed to "further increase the confidence of the public", this new approach follows a review into how handcuffs are used before an arrest is made.

Why did the Met review its handcuffing policy?

The review - commissioned by Met commissioner Cressida Dick in 2019 - was designed to ensure the use of handcuffs is always justified and recorded.

In deciding to use handcuffs, the met has outlined more than 40 questions officers should ask themselves. 

These include "do I need to take action immediately?" and "how probable is the risk of harm?".

The report says all officers and staff "remain accountable for any force they use and they may be called upon to explain their rationale".

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However, it admits: "In a fast-moving incident, the police service recognises that it may not always be possible to segregate thinking or response according to each phase of the model. In such cases, the main priority of decision-makers is to keep in mind their overarching mission to act with integrity to protect and serve the public."

What approach must officers follow when handcuffing?

The A, B, C, D, E approach must be followed:

- Apply the handcuffs

- Be sure to ask if the handcuffs are too tight

- Check the handcuffs for tightness

- Double lock the handcuffs

- Evidence the justifiable use of handcuffs on a person

What must be taken into account when deciding to use handcuffs?

The use of handcuffs constitutes a use of force, and any intentional application of force on another person is an assault.

Therefore, it must be justified through establishing a legal basis and that it is reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

How must handcuffs be locked?

They must be double locked to prevent circulatory inhibition or damage to the wrist or skin.

How long should a person be handcuffed?

Handcuffs should be applied for no longer than is reasonably necessary, and will be removed in custody once safe to do so.

Only in "exceptional circumstances" will their continued use be necessary, such as to undertake further searches or obtain further evidence.

How do officers document decisions to use handcuffs?

A Use of Force form will need to be submitted within 24 hours of an incident.

What training do officers have to undertake?

All officers - up to and including the rank of superintendent - will receive initial safety training and refreshers.


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