The use of force by Northland police officers in difficult situations decreased last year, with pepperspray and handcuffs the most used options.

The national Police Tactical Options Report has been released and showed Northland police used tactical options 331 times last year, compared with 366 the year before.

That rate is at the lower end of the scale alongside Tasman, who used 284 options, Southern, 316, and Eastern, 377.

Northland's total is less than half of that of Counties Manukau, where tactical options were used 799 times, Auckland (750) and Wellington (733).


Pepperspray was the most commonly used option in Northland, 117 times, followed by handcuffs or restraints, 70, and empty hand tactics, 63. A Taser was shown or discharged 47 times, dogs were used 19 times, firearms 13 times and a baton once.

The latest Northland statistics show the figures for each of the options were down or the same as the year before, except for pepperspray which rose from 95 to 117.

Northland police operations manager Inspector Marty Ruth said the reason for the drop in numbers was because staff were becoming better trained in communication and open hand tactics.

He said staff were going to the tactical options only "as a kind of last resort".

"Pepperspray might be up because we have a new, improved product which is working well."

He said staff on the ground have said the pepperspray, which was about six times stronger, worked well to defuse a violent situation.

Ruth said that compared with other districts Northland was well down on its use and discharge of high-end tactical options.

"The less we have to use those tactical options the better."


The use of Tasers in Northland was the lowest rate in the country. The total of 47 times is made up of 43 Taser shows and four discharges.

Bay of Plenty, where a Taser was used 169 times, Central, 141 times, and Wellington, 132 times, were the top three regions.

"It shows we are using our other tactical options, the guys are using their communication to talk to people, to talk them down," Ruth said.

There were no injuries reported to the subjects of Northland Taser discharges, but three staff members received minor injuries.

The armed offenders squad was used 28 times, made up of 10 emergency callouts and 18 pre-planned deployments. That was well below the 47 deployments in 2016.

Ruth said it was good to see that number coming down.


"It's a good statistic for this district, that these guys aren't required as much as the previous year, may it continue that way."

There were 21 complaints from Northland to the Independent Police Complaints Authority over the use of force last year.