4 May, 16

Actions Against The Police

The various Police Forces in the UK have a wide range of powers to detain and investigate members of the public. Problems arise when police officers abuse their powers.

Police misconduct is often sudden, unexpected and life-changing for those on the receiving end. Many people are bewildered and then shocked at the extent by which the Police are then prepared to protect their own interests against those they are sworn to protect. However, many people still do not realise that it is possible to formally complain against the Police. It is also possible to take legal action to sue the Police and obtain damages if the Police have been found to have acted unlawfully. In some cases legal action can also lead to other remedies, such as an apology and / or removal of fingerprints and DNA from the police database.

What we can offer

We offer sympathetic supportive advice to those who believe they have been wrongfully arrested, falsely imprisoned, assaulted and maliciously prosecuted by the Police and / or discriminated against for a reason such as their ethnic origin or a disability.

We also help prisoners assaulted by staff or who have been detained unlawfully. We are also able to advise in claims against the UK Border Agency for unlawful immigration detention and / or searches at airports.

We offer expert advice to those arrested for “public order” offences. The legal right to demonstrate and to protest peacefully is one specific area where police have in practice sought to “push the boundaries “ of lawful behaviour. The nature and extent of the force used against non-violent protesters is an obvious example but there are more insidious policy decisions that need concern all those pursuing the right to protest. The use of undercover officers as agents provocateurs in peaceful and law-abiding protest organisations is a notorious example, but the use of “kettling” to confine crowds in a manner that effectively brands all participants as “a problem” and therefore somehow deserving of such measures is another obvious example of more immediate and concerning developments. As the reach of information technology operated by the police relating to the control of protest grows ever more sophisticated and extensive, so the need grows for effective legal remedies to hold the police accountable.

We offer supportive advice and where possible, representation to bereaved families who are trying to get answers to the questions that always arise over the standard of the care offered to their loved ones by the authorities. .Inquest hearings are fact-finding Court investigations presided over by a Coroner, into a sudden and / or suspicious death. Many of these hearings occur when the deceased has come into contact with the authorities-perhaps detained in a police station or prison. The families and loved ones of the deceased are faced with a double blow-not only having to cope with the trauma caused by the death itself but also having to cope with a legal procedure that was none of their making and where the Authorities involved use their unlimited resources to obtain expert legal representation in front of the Coroner, often to put their actions in the best possible light.

The team is able to advise on judicial review challenges against a range of public bodies including the police, Crown Prosecution Service and Independent Police Complaints Commission. Judicial review is a means of challenging the decisions of public bodies when these are irrational, unfair or cause a breach of human rights. For example, we may be able to assist in challenging cautions administered by the police.

We would say this… but

We offer proactive and dynamic representation where proceeding to trial and winning is always our primary goal but is also the way in which your claim can achieve a settlement out of Court that truly reflects the seriousness of the case.

What we have done for others

  • Proceedings issued against Essex Police for an assault involving a young woman taking place in her own home and in front of her 8 year old daughter, with her 2 year old son sleeping upstairs. In the course of the assault she was molested, punched in the face and sustained head injuries, a broken hand and a broken wrist. The claim settled with an agreement for the Essex police to pay our client £20,000 plus her legal costs.
  • Our client, a 23 year old mixed race male, had mild learning difficulties, was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and had a history of mental illness. At the time of the incident he was resident in supported accommodation provided by Social Services. Police attended at 5.30 am at the client’s hostel in order to execute an arrest for breach of a bail condition. Despite our client exhibiting a willingness to comply with police, what ought to have been a straight-forward arrest very quickly and needlessly escalated into the deployment of physical force and the use of riot equipment. Our client was charged with common assault (and notably, not charged with the specific offence of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty). GT Stewart represented him in those proceedings. Our clients case was before the court on a total of 7 occasions before the matter was finally discontinued by the CPS on the basis of a lack of public interest. Our client then sued for assault, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and disability discrimination. His claim settled with the Metropolitan Police agreeing to pay damages of £10,000.
  • £22,000 obtained for a man tasered by police and not charged with any offence
  • £6,000 for a man accused of driving round a traffic roundabout twice and then arrested when he remonstrated and detained for 11 hours
  • £2000 for a man detained for 3 hours on an invalid arrest Warrant
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