London police allegedly used force in more than half the arrests of pregnant women.
ITV News published disturbing statistics about the use of force in UK arrests for potentially pregnant women.
In two-and-a half years, the Metropolitan Police Service had records of 2,556 similar occasions. These records included more than half of the 4,117 arrests in which the women taken into custody claimed she was, or could be, pregnant.
This revelation is made as New Scotland Yard comes under increasing scrutiny following a report that found bullying, racism and misogyny within its ranks. Met Commissioner Cressida Dick announced her resignation this week, citing London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s lack of confidence in her ability to lead the force.
ITV News cited Friday’s numbers through Freedom of Information Act requests received from police forces across Britain. These statistics are for the period January 2018 to June 2021.
The definition of force ranges from “compliant handcuffing and the drawing of a baton, to the use of dogs, irritant spray, body restraints, spit hoods and use of a Taser,” the report said.
The Met records don’t show whether women told officers they were or could be pregnant before force was applied to them, including in cases where the more serious methods were used.
On potentially pregnant women, spit hoods were 302 times used. They are devices designed to prevent officers being spit on or bit by the arrestedee. Critics claim that such devices are difficult to spot if an officer has respiratory problems. Three times, Tasers were used to shoot at female officers.
One 12-year old girl was held in custody by the Met for being pregnant. She was detained with force on May 13, 2020. There are similar records of arrested girls – one at age 13 in 2018 and another at 14 the following year.
ITV News reported that officers in West Yorkshire have the same tendency to use force against females as their counterparts in London. It is the fourth-largest police station in England and Wales. In West Yorkshire, 757 women were arrested for stating that they were pregnant. In around 470 cases, force was used.
Used officers “hard physical control”When arresting pregnant women in West Yorkshire, they used 70 different techniques. Six times they used incapacitant Spray, twice using spit Hoods.
ITV News gathered data from 15 additional forces and found at least 3 818 arrests of female officers who were told they were pregnant. According to records, force or restraint were used in 275 instances.
The news outlet asked charities for feedback on the statistics. They expressed concern about police using pepper spray and Tasers against pregnant women.
“Those methods must be a last resort across the board. There has to be a very strong justification for them to be used because of the risks involved,”Naomi Delap, director of Birth Companions.
“Most women in trouble should not be arrested at all,”Andrew Neilson, the Howard League for Penal Reform Director of Campaigns, said, “an arrest can be a damaging and traumatic event.”
ITV News was told by police that officers have been trained to evaluate a situation, and to use force to protect themselves as well as other persons involved in the case.
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