THAMES Valley police officers used force less often last year than they did before the pandemic.

The figures come as a human rights charity says the police ‘should not be handed new powers’, as it claims current ones put the public at risk of harm.

However, Home Office figures show the number of incidents in which Thames Valley Police used force fell 30 per cent to 11,751 in the year to March, from 16,674 in 2019-2020 – the year before the coronavirus pandemic.

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Of the incidents last year, 888 resulted in the subject being injured.

Gavin Hales, a senior associate fellow at the Police Foundation think tank said last year involved ‘something of a return to normal crime levels’ after a drop in crime over successive lockdowns.

He added that the rise could in part be due to the recruitment of new officers, and improved recording of incidents by police forces.

Across the country, 79 per cent of incidents involved restraining the subject – such and handcuffing or forcing them to the ground – with restraint tactics being used 13,155 times in Thames Valley.

Police forces can use multiple tactics in one incident, so this figure may be higher than the total number of incidents where restraint was used.

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Men aged 18 to 34 are by far the most likely to be subject to police force nationally – 5,516 (47 per cent of) incidents in Thames Valley involved people who fell into this category.

Emmanuelle Andrews, policy and campaigns manager at civil rights campaign group Liberty, said: “We all want to feel safe in our communities, but the Home Office report shows that this is often not true for black people.”

Across England and Wales, black people are 3.5 times more likely to be subject to use of force tactics.

Ms Andrews added: “Dehumanising police tactics, especially those involving use of force, don’t keep us safe but instead subject people to traumatic and distressing experiences, leaving a lasting impact on both individuals and communities.”

Nationally, black men aged 18 to 34 account for 7 per cent of all use of force incidents, despite comprising just 0.5 per cent of the overall population.

Liberty have cautioned against calls to extend police powers.

“We must have meaningful discussions about how we can better keep communities safe, and prioritise solutions which have human rights and social justice at their heart,” Ms Andrews added.

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A Home Office spokesperson said that sometimes force can be a ‘vital tool’ in policing.

“We are clear that nobody should experience force because of their race,” they added.