The move follows concerns that some officers are using excessive force or dangerous techniques when dealing with suspects. This week the Metropolitan Police was the subject of severe criticism when a hairdresser was awarded a record pounds 220,000 for wrongful arrest. He needed hospital treatment after being held in a necklock and punched in the kidneys.
The investigation - to be carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers - will examine police self-defence techniques, concentrating on the use of headlocks and the practice of handcuffing suspects before lying them face down - both of which have led to deaths and injuries.
The study is also expected to look at "use of force" reports, which officers in some police forces are required to complete following an incident involving self-defence. Only about a quarter of England and Wales's 43 forces now use the reports. Some forces have resisted them because of fears they may be used against officers in any legal action.
n The Metropolitan Police has launched an inquiry into why tens of thousands of blacks and Asians are being stopped and searched in London. Home Office figures released yesterday showed that blacks are proportionately five times more likely than whites to be pulled up and questioned. Yet only one in nine is arrested.
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