Civil Law and Actions against the Police FAQs

What are actions against the Police?

There is allowance in the Law which allows you to claim compensation from the police if they have abused their powers and you have suffered as a result of this abuse. You have the ability to claim against any of the police forces in England and Wales. This includes the British Transport Police or those acting with police like powers. Examples of such situations include, public transport guards, security staff and immigration officials.

 

The legal basis of these claims will be Tort Law, which is a wrongful act or infringement of a right which will give rise to a legal liability.

What can I claim for?

Actions against the Police, covered by Tort Law, include violations of the body and home:

  • False Imprisonment – if the Police detain you without having a lawful reason
  • Assault – If, for example, excessive force or unlawful force has been used against you when arresting or restraining you or you were injured during the course of an unlawful arrest.
  • Trespass to property or goods – if the Police forcefully enter your home without a warrant or damage your property or possessions.

 

There is also remedy available where Police have abused their public powers, and claims can be made for:

  • Malicious Prosecution and Misfeasance in Public Office where you have endured suffering as a result of the deliberate misuse of power by the Police. If there is evidence the Police did not have enough evidence to charge you in the first place and therefore they did not have honest belief in your guilt, you may have a claim for malicious prosecution.

 

If a Police officer knowingly or recklessly abuses their power or commits an act intended to injure you then you may have a claim for Misfeasance. An example may be where a Police officer discloses information to a third party with the intention of causing someone damage.

 

These claims will be fact dependant, there may also be ability to claim for the above and/or:

  • Breach of Human Rights Legislation – A claim may arise where your right to a private and family life (Article 8) or your right to freedom of expression (Article 10) has been breached.
  • Breach of the Data Protection Act – If your information is inaccurate or wrongly released to third parties or information is released to the wrong people.
  • Police Negligence and failure to investigate
  • Discrimination – Whether this is discrimination based on, age, disability, gender-reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. If you do believe the police has been discriminatory against you for one of the above characteristics this may give rise to a claim.
  • Breach of PACE, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

But what are examples of misconduct?

  • Being wrongfully arrested and detained in custody
  • Being assaulted by a member of the police
  • A failure by the police to properly investigate allegations against an individual which results in either yourself or your family suffering harm.
  • Feeling you may have been detained in custody longer than was necessary for the Police or CPS to charge, bail or release you.

Who can make a claim?

A claim can be made by anyone who believes they may have been subjected to Police misconduct. You can also make a claim on someone else’s behalf if they are unable to do so themselves, this can include situations of lack of mental capacity to instruct solicitors or where the person in question is a minor. There is also the possibility to bring a claim for a loved one who has died if the inquest finds that the Police or other authority were responsible for their death.

Are there time limits in making a claim?

Absolutely – there are very stringent time limits when bringing a claim. It is best to get in touch with experts as soon as possible. There is a limit of six years when bringing a claim for wrongful arrest or false imprisonment. However, if the claim is personal injury based, this limit is only three years.

If you are making a complaint against the Police or another body of authority this limit is reduced again to one year.

 

There are minimal exceptions to this rule, these include where you are bringing the claim on behalf of a child or someone who does not have the mental capacity to bring their own claim.

What would the process be in bringing my claim?

Initially, a phone call to one of our team. You can book in a free 20-minute appointment where we can discuss your situation and evaluate the potential for a claim.

From here, should you have a claim and instruct us, we will look into your case in detail. We will ensure we compile relevant evidence to make your claim as strong as possible.

In some cases, the first step in such claims is launching a complaint against the Police. Should this be the case, we can advise you through the process.

Is there any evidence of misconduct I will need?

If you want to make a complaint or take legal action against the police then it will be useful to have the names of any witnesses and to have a written record for yourself of any relevant events, times and dates. If you are injured or if your property is damaged then photographs of these injuries or damages should be taken as soon as possible. Injuries should also be medically examined.

If I wish to make a complaint, what information will I need?

You will need:

  • Your details, full name, address and contact information
  • The name of the Police Force you wish to be investigated
  • Details of the allegations and complaints you wish to submit and details of the outcome you are seeking E.G Disciplinary proceedings for particular officers.
  • Details of why you feel the police may have acted inappropriately or outside of their powers and how they could have acted differently.
  • A list of any specific questions you would like answers for.

Who are the IPCC?

IPCC stands for the Independent Police Complaints Commission. In short, a body set up, to take complaints against the Police. It is possible for anyone to make a claim to the IPCC; however, it is usually only the most serious claims such as those which result in serious injury or death which are investigated.

This does not mean other claims will not be investigated, just that these other claims are referred to the Professional Standards Department at the relevant Police Force and ensures that the conduct of the Police Officers involved is fully investigated.

However, although this structure is in place it does not mean that every claim gets the attention it should. As a result of this, we advise having the correct experts on your side to fully support your claim.

Is there funding available?

At our initial meeting, we can discuss funding options with you. There is Legal Aid available for bringing claims against the Police, provided that you meet the financial criteria to be eligible.

If you feel you have been mistreated by the Police in any way, please get in touch with our office on 01865 246991 or fill in an enquiry form online. We offer an initial free 20-minute appointment to assess the potential for a claim and give advice. Our hardworking team always acts with integrity and puts the client first.