Police firearm use by country

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The use of firearms by police forces varies widely across the world, in part due to differences in gun use policy, civilian firearm laws, and recording of police activity. Police may require that officers use warning shots before aiming on-target, officers may need to make verbal warnings before using their firearms, and officers may be prohibited from carrying weapons while performing tasks such as highway patrol where gun use is not expected.

Countries with unarmed police officers

Unarmed police forces[edit]

In some countries including Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland excepted), the police do not carry firearms unless the situation is expected to merit it. A survey conducted in Great Britain in 2004 found that 47% of citizens supported arming all police while 48% were opposed to the idea.[1]

Australia[edit]

The Australian police forces is monitored by the Australian Institute of Criminology, which has recorded police shooting deaths since 1989. Police in Australia routinely wear firearms which are personally issued to them. All fatal police shootings are subject to a mandatory coronial inquest.[2] A 2013 review by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that 42% of victims of fatal police shootings had a mental illness.[3] A more recent history of deaths by police shootings is tabulated below.

2000/1 2001/2 2002/3 2003/4 2004/5 2005/6 2006/7 2007/8 2008/9 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
People killed1 3 2 5 7 6 3 3 3 5 3 6 4 1 3 10 5 4
1.^ Data provided by the Australian Institute of Criminology[4]

Austria[edit]

Police in Austria are monitored by the Austrian Interior Ministry. Since 2006 the records of police firearm use have been expanded to show whether or not a round was targeted at people.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Rounds discharged 133 105 172 177 143 121 147 107 120 111 74 81
Rounds targeted at people - - - - - - 9 6 6 7 4 4
Minor injuries 1 1 -1 2 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0
Major injuries 6 3 -1 14 4 3 5 6 5 3 3 1
People killed 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 3 0 1
1.^ 10 injuries, severity not specified.

Data reported on by Heute[5]

Denmark[edit]

Since 1965 all Danish police officers have carried a police pistol when performing their duties. Danish police used Walther PPK 7.65 mm as the standard pistol until 2000, and then the Heckler & Koch USP 9 mm was introduced. In 2008 police began to carry pepper spray in addition to their firearm.

The appropriate use of firearms is described in the Act on Police Activities regulations, section 16 and 17 is translated into English in.[6]

16. (1) The police may use force only if necessary and justified and only by such means and to such extent as are reasonable relative to the interest which the police seek to protect. Any assessment of the justifiability of such force must also take into account whether the use of force involves any risk of bodily harm to third parties.

(2) Force must be used as considerately as possible under the circumstances and so as to minimise any bodily harm.

17. (1) Firearms may only be used: (i) to avert an on-going or imminent dangerous assault on a person; (ii) to avert other imminent danger to the lives of persons or of such persons incurring grievous bodily harm […] (iv) to secure the apprehension of persons who have or are suspected on reasonable grounds of having commenced or committed a dangerous assault on another person unless the risk that such persons will commit another such assault is deemed not to exist;

(2) Before the police fire shots involving a risk of harm to a person, the person must be informed in so far as possible, first by shouted warnings and then by warning shots, that the police intend to fire if police orders are not observed. It must also be ensured, in so far as possible, that the person is able to observe the order.

(3) In case of an obvious risk of hitting third parties, shots may only be fired as a last resort […]

(5) If police shooting has caused harm to a person, the person must immediately be examined by a doctor.

In Denmark the police use of weapons is recorded by the police department. The police department classifies tear gas as the use of a firearm. In 2006 the death of four people by police shootings prompted an investigation into the use of firearms by the Danish police force from 1996 to 2006. The investigation found no significant trends of increased firearms use by the police.[6]

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Cases of firearm use 222 276 196 216 234 242 269 305 269 243 253
Reports of shots fired1 15 18 7 10 11 22 17 10 18 15 20
Reports of shots aimed at civilians2 7 7 4 5 3 12 7 3 4 2 11
People hit 7 3 4 3 3 7 5 3 3 2 11
People wounded 6 3 4 3 3 4 3 2 3 2 7
People killed 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 1 0 0 4
1.^ Includes warning shots and tear gas fired.
2.^ Includes shots aimed at vehicle tyres.

More recent figures have been published separately in a different format.[7]

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Cases of firearm use 361 305 277 260 323 315
Rounds discharged 32 39 86 49 58 53
Warning shots 11 6 49 6 12 17

Finland[edit]

Police in Finland have access to weapons including a Glock 17, Heckler & Koch MP5, Taser and pepper spray. The use of firearms is recorded by the Police College and the Finnish ministry of the Interior.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Incidents firearms were used 39 26 36 27 41 44 32 40 34 39 27
Firearm was threatened 31 23 25 20 28 39 30 32 24 33 19
Rounds fired 10 3 11 7 9 5 3 13 48 7 6
Warning shots 10 3 7 4 3 3 2 5 1 0 2
People killed 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
People wounded 0 0 3 3 3 2 1 2 1 1 4

Data reported on by YLE uutiset[8]

France[edit]

In France the police are regularly armed, however, there is no official record of how frequently firearms are used.[9] An independent group A Toutes Les Victimes has tracked the number of deaths and injuries by police which have been published in the media since 2005.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Number of deaths1 6 10 19 11 6 9 10 14
Number of injuries1 3 7 2 7 5 4 0 4
1^ Unofficial data from the A Toutes Les Victimes census[10]

Germany[edit]

German police forces routinely carry weapons. Police firearm statistics dating back to 1996 are available,[11] a summary of recent years is tabulated below.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Rounds discharged for people 106 115 104 100 133 101
Warning shots 59 49 54 41 65 48
Rounds which missed people 10 30 14 17 22 13
Rounds which hit people 37 36 36 42 46 40
Injuries 23 15 20 20 31 22
Deaths 8 6 8 8 7 10

Iceland[edit]

Icelandic police do not regularly carry firearms. In 2013 the first fatal police shooting took place where one man was killed. As of October 2019 this remains the only fatal police shooting since Iceland became an independent republic in 1944.[12]

Ireland[edit]

Jamaica[edit]

The Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) use of lethal force has been monitored by Amnesty International. From 1983 to 2000 the Jamaican police force has been reported to kill between 121 and 355 people each year with an average of 171 deaths.[13] A subsequent report by Amnesty USA shows that from 1998 to 2015 between 101 and 307 people were killed each year with an average of 192 deaths.[14] In 2010, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) was established as an independent oversight body to tackle the frequent use of lethal force by members of the Security Forces. which has made progress towards reducing the problem.[15] A summary of recent years, is tabulated below:

Jamaica's Security Force shooting fatalities 2011-2017
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
210 219 258 115 101 111 168


Japan[edit]

Uniformed officers carry sidearms, typically the New Nambu M60 revolver while on duty only. Security Police and Special Assault Team carry semi-automatic pistols and heavier sub machine guns and rifles depending on the situation.

Netherlands[edit]

Law enforcement in the Netherlands regularly carry firearms, in every incident where a firearm round hits a person there is an investigation conducted to determine if the use of a firearm was justified. The results of the investigations are made publicly available, the cases for each year are tabulated.

Data from firearms use investigations[16]

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Number of incidents 30 33 33 24 30 25 23
People wounded 29 31 31 19 29 24 27
People killed 0 2 2 5 5 3 3

New Zealand[edit]

The New Zealand Police do not routinely carry sidearms. Under normal circumstances, police in New Zealand carry pepper spray, batons, and Tasers, though all are trained with the Glock 17 pistol and Bushmaster M4 semi-automatic rifle. These firearms are carried in all frontline police vehicles and are available for use should a situation require it. There are times when due to a credible threat, New Zealand's 12 district police commanders have the authority to arm all of their frontline officers.[17] After the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings all frontline police officers throughout the country were instructed by the Police Commissioner to carry guns while on duty.[18]

In October 2019, New Zealand's Police Commissioner announced a 6-month trial of Armed Response Teams (ARTs) in three Police districts. The ARTs are specialist armed police personnel who are part of the Armed Offenders Squad. The teams are a minimum of three, in specialised vehicles equipped with tactical options and operate seven days a week.[19]

When force is used (excluding handcuffs) a tactical operations report is filed. Use of tactical options is published by the police force.[20]

A summary of tactical options used in 2010–2014 was published in 2015. In 33,198 events over the four-year period, firearms were drawn 1,422 times, resulting in 5 injuries.[21] Tactical operations resulting in fatalities are not recorded in the database.

Since 1916, New Zealand Police have used lethal force 40 times.

Norway[edit]

The Norwegian Police Service only carry firearms in response to specific situations. Police officers keep their Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns and Heckler & Koch P30 pistols locked in the patrol cars. The use of firearms is recorded by the police department which publishes detailed statistics on the annual use of firearms. The information presented in the 2014 report is detailed in the table below.[22] The police carry

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Firearm use threatened 70 72 67 52 75 65 55 58 75 66 58 58 42
Rounds discharged 1 1 5 3 3 0 2 3 6 1 3 3 2
Total 71 73 72 55 78 65 57 61 81 67 61 61 44
People killed 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
People wounded 1 - 5 1 1 0 1 2 4 1 0 2 0
Incidents of armed police - - - 2666 - - 2170 2358 - 2711 - - 2954

South Africa[edit]

The South African Police Service is monitored by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) which releases an annual report on the performance indicators of police activity. The IPID publishes deaths as a results of police action and deaths in police custody. Use of firearms forms the majority of the killings by police; shootings by police are all classified under deaths as a result of police action.

2012/13[23] 2013/14[24] 2014/15[25] 2015/16[26]
Firearm related incidents of death1 342 317 322 299
Firearm related deaths1 - 336 - -
Total incidents of death as a result of police action 431 390 396 366
Total deaths as a result of police action 485 409 423 400
1^ Includes all categories of deaths as a result of police action with labels "Shot with service firearm", "Shot with police firearm" and "Negligent handling of a firearm leading to death". Excludes suicides.

Sweden[edit]

The Swedish Police Authority always carry firearms when on public duty. The standard weapon issued to officers is the SIG Sauer P226. The police authority report that normally police will threaten to use their weapon but do not discharge it, this happens about 200 times per year. In a typical year the police shoot 20 warning shots aimed at people or vehicles.[27] An investigation reviewing the use of weapons by police details the firearm use from 2003 to 2014.[28]

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Incidents involving shots for effect 11 16 9 8 10 20 11 13 29 17 13 25
Incidents involving warning shots 9 15 9 3 12 16 11 8 32 14 16 14

Only the most serious use of violence is counted, if an incident involves both warning shots and shots for effect it is only counted in the shots for effect section.

United Kingdom[edit]

Police forces in the United Kingdom are managed by different bodies and thus have different standards for firearms usage. Police in Northern Ireland regularly carry firearms whereas the police in Great Britain do not.

England and Wales[edit]

The police force in England and Wales do not routinely carry firearms, a 2006 poll of 47,328 members of the Police Federation of England and Wales found that 82% do not want officers to be routinely armed while on duty.[1] The UK home office reports annual statistics on the use of firearms by police forces. The use of firearms is recorded by the police department which publishes detailed statistics on the annual use of firearms dating back to 2003. One report published figures for 2003-2013,[29] later years are published individually.[30] While the Home Office monitors the use of police equipment the Independent Police Complaints Commission monitors the fatalities of people due to police contact.

2003/4 2004/5 2005/6 2006/7 2007/8 2008/9 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
Operations involving armed police1 16,657 15,981 18,891 18,005 19,595 16,456 14,218 13,496 12,550 10,996 14,939 14,685 14,753
Operations involving armed response vehicles1 13,218 13,137 14,355 14,527 14,972 19,928 17,068 16,774 14,261 13,116 12,135 12,287 12,471
Authorised firearms officers1 6,096 6,243 6,584 6,728 6,780 6,906 6,979 6,653 6,756 6,091 5,864 5,647 5,639
Incidents where firearms were discharged1 4 5 9 3 7 5 6 4 5 3 4 6 7
Incidents of fatalities2 - 3 5 1 4 3 2 2 2 0 0 1 3
People killed2 - 3 5 1 5 3 2 2 2 0 0 1 3
1.^ Data provided by the UK Home Office.
2.^ Data provided by the Independent Police Complaints Commission[31]

Northern Ireland[edit]

The Police Service of Northern Ireland publish an annual report on the police use of force which lists the frequency that firearms were drawn and fired. However, this report does not list the injuries or deaths resulting from firearms use.

2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
Firearm drawn or pointed 302 360 364 419 265 358
Firearm discharged 3 0 1 0 0 1

Data published by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.[32]

United States[edit]

There is no consistent recording of firearms use across all states, some bodies such as the New York Police Department (NYPD) report on firearms discharge. In 2015 NYPD reported a record low of eight deaths as well as fifteen injuries caused by police firearms discharge.[33]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation publish the number of justified homicides by law enforcement.

In response to the lack of published data, the organization Campaign Zero launched Mapping Police Violence to collect comprehensive data on people killed by police in the United States. Similarly, the British newspaper The Guardian launched "The Counted" - a program to record the number of fatal police shootings throughout the United States. The Guardian reports that 1,146 people were killed in 2015 and 1,093 people in 2016.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Justifiable homicide1 396 401 423 467 451 458 438 423 -
Number of deaths2 - - - - - 1,146 1,093 - -
Number of deaths3 - - - - - 995 963 987 998
Number of deaths4 - - - 1,079 1,131 1,187 1,129 1,146 1,165
1.^ Justifiable homicides recorded by the FBI[34][35][36]
2.^ Mapping Police Violence. Unofficial figures based on media reports[37]
3.^ The Counted. Unofficial figures based on media reports[38]
4.^ Fatal Force. Unofficial figures based on media reports[39][40][41][42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Why British police don't have guns". BBC. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  2. ^ Victoria. Parliament. Law Reform Committee (2006-09-06). Coroners Act 1985: Final report (PDF) (Report). p. 233. ISBN 0-9757984-1-3. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  3. ^ "Research in Practice: Police shootings of people with a mental illness" (PDF). Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Police custody and custody-related operations". Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Polizei gab im Vorjahr 81 Schüsse ab - nur 4 trafen". Heute. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b "THE USE OF POLICE FIREARMS IN DENMARK" (PDF). Politiet. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Politiets brug af magtmidler i 2014" (PDF). Politiet. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Poliisin aseenkäyttö johtaa harvoin kuolemaan". YLE uutiset. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  9. ^ "En France, le grand flou des violences policières En savoir plus sur". Le Monde. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Recensement de personnes tuées par la police ou à cause de son action : 2005-2016". A Toutes Les Victimes. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Statistiken zum polizeilichen Schusswaffengebrauch in Deutschland" (PDF). Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Iceland grieves after police shoot and kill a man for the first time in its history". Amnesty International. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  13. ^ "JAMAICA: KILLINGS AND VIOLENCE BY POLICE: HOW MANY MORE VICTIMS". Amnesty International. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  14. ^ "WAITING IN VAIN; JAMAICA: UNLAWFUL POLICE KILLINGS AND RELATIVES' LONG STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE" (PDF). Amnesty International. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Jamaica police commit 'hundreds of unlawful killings' yearly, Amnesty says". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Politie schiet drie keer deze week, wat zijn de richtlijnen?". NOS. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  17. ^ "How often are New Zealand police routinely armed?". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Police officers in every part of New Zealand will continue to carry guns". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Police to pilot Armed Response Teams". New Zealand Police. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  20. ^ "Tactical Options Research Reports". New Zealand Police Response and Operations: Research and Evaluation. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
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  24. ^ "Independent Police Investigative Directorate Annual Report 2013-2014" (PDF). Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
  25. ^ "Independent Police Investigative Directorate Annual Report 2014-2015" (PDF). Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
  26. ^ "Independent Police Investigative Directorate Annual Report 2015/2016 Financial Year" (PDF). Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
  27. ^ "Hur ofta använder polisen skjutvapen?". Polisen. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  28. ^ "Polisens användning av skjutvapen och eventuella behov av åtgärder" (PDF). Polismyndigheten. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Statistics on police use of firearms in England and Wales 2012-13" (PDF). UK Home Office. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  30. ^ "Police use of firearms statistics". UK Home Office. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  31. ^ "Deaths during or following police contact". Independent Police Complaints Commission. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  32. ^ "Statistics on Police Use of Force". Police Service of Northern Ireland. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Annual firearms discharge report" (PDF). New York Police Department. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  34. ^ "Expanded Homicide Data Table 14 Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, Law Enforcement, 2010-2014". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  35. ^ "Expanded Homicide Data Table 14 Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, Law Enforcement, 2011-2015". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  36. ^ "Expanded Homicide Data Table 14 Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, Law Enforcement, 2013-2017". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  37. ^ "Mapping Police Violence". Campaign Zero. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  38. ^ "The Counted: People killed by police in the US". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  39. ^ "Police shootings 2015". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  40. ^ "Police shootings 2016". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  41. ^ "Police shootings 2017". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  42. ^ "Police shootings 2018". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 March 2019.