T: 01633 262 848

Civil Action Against The Police

When a person is arrested they are understandably upset. Sometimes people are handcuffed and detained in a police cell. On occasions, it is ultimately established that they have committed no offences and this can of course be aggravated if they have never been in trouble with the Police before.

Whilst understandably such conduct goes to the heart of people's human rights in terms of loss of liberty, this by itself does not give rise to a claim for damages against the police. However, subject to consideration of the facts of the claim, it may give rise to causes of action for wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and battery (if handcuffs are used).

Pursuing a Claim for Wrongful Arrest

To pursue a claim for unlawful arrest, the burden is on the Chief Constable of any police authority to justify the arrest.

A constable may arrest without warrant:-

- Anyone who is about to commit an offence - Anyone who is in the act of committing an offence - Anyone who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence - Anyone who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence

If a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed may arrest without warrant anyone who he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of it.

If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without warrant:-

- Anyone who is guilty of the offence - Anyone who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it

Whilst the above criteria is helpful in understanding arrest without warrant conditions the Power of Arrest summary as set out above is only exercisable if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing it is necessary to arrest the person in question.

The necessity reasons are:-

- To enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in a case where the constable does not know and cannot readily ascertain the persons name) or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name - Correspondingly as regards to the persons address - To prevent the person causing physical injury to himself or another; suffering physical injury; causing loss or damage to property; committing an offence against public decency and causing unlawful obstruction of the highway - To protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question - To allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or the conduct of the person - To prevent any prosecution got the offence being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

Such provisions are contained within Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the Code of Practice for the Statutory Power of Arrest by police officers.

Richardson v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police - The Court has established that it may not be considered necessary to arrest a suspect whom is fully co-operative with police investigations, particularly where a suspect would voluntarily attend the Police station for the purpose of being interviewed.

Whilst the above criteria is helpful in establishing whether a prima facie case exists, breach of the code itself will not ordinarily give rise to a claim for damages against the Chief Constable. There are a number of legal principles which apply to arrest which have to be considered when ascertaining whether or not the arrest was lawful.

Taking the above matters into consideration, it is therefore necessary when looking at the general principles of arrest for the court to look at both the officer's reasonable suspicion and whether the arrest itself was necessary.

In this context, the Court must look at the state of mind of the arresting officer to determine whether he/she had the requisite suspicion and determine what material he was relying on to provide "reasonable grounds" for the arrest and whether the arrest was "necessary".

In relation to "reasonable grounds to suspect" there are three questions to be considered:

1. Did the arresting officer suspect that the person who has been arrested was guilty of the offence?

To answer this, it depends entirely on the findings of the fact as to the officers state of mind.

2. Was there reasonable cause for the suspicion?

This is a purely objective requirement to be determined by the Judge and if necessary, on the facts found by a Jury.

If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, then the officer has discretion which entitles him to make an arrest. In relation to the discretion, the question arises as to whether the discretion has been exercised in accordance with the Wednesbury Provisions.

Following a change in the law in January 2006 the necessity condition was an addition to Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Whilst this has not been subject to detailed analysis, it is clear that the same questions will arise both in relation to reasonable grounds to suspect and reasonable grounds for believing the arrest was necessary for any of the reasons stated above.

Reasonable grounds to suspect has both subjective and objective questions:

1. Subjective - The chief constable must prove that the arresting officer did in fact suspect that the arrested person was guilty of the offence for which he was arrested.

2. Objective - The standard of "reasonable cause" or "reasonable grounds" is not a high one. In a number of cases, arrests have been held to have been lawful in situations where there was only a limited amount of evidence against a potential subspect,

Indeed, the arresting officer in form of such grounds may rely upon hearsay evidence from a member of the public and once reasonable grounds are present, the police have no duty to make further investigations as to the strength of the evidence.

False Imprisonment

Even if a Chief Constable is able to show that an arrest was lawful, there are subsequent provisions that have to be complied with to ensure that the continued detention is lawful. Such provisions are set out in part IV of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 as amended.

After a person has been arrested, it is the custody officer who must determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a person for the arrest which he was arrested.

If there is insufficient evidence to charge a person, the custody officer must release him and her on bail, unless the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing the persons detention without charge is necessary to secure and preserve evidence relation to the offence or to obtain evidence through questioning.

If there is sufficient evidence against the person, he must be charged or released and any breach of part IV will mean that any subsequent detention was unlawful.

Arrest

When an arrest takes place a police officer is entitled to use reasonable force to detain the person that he or she is arresting.

The use of handcuffs is prima facie unlawful and can only be justified if the arrest was lawful and the use of handcuffs constituted "reasonable force". It is in this context that the use of handcuffs depends on the circumstances but is often made on an objective basis for believing that a person may escape or use violence.

If none of the above features are present, this may give rise to a claim for damages.

Value of the Claim

Guidance in relation to the value of such claims can be obtained from the leading case of Thompson v The Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis. Following this case it was decided that the first hour of an unlawful arrest and detention is approximately £700, on a reducing scale for a period of 24 hours, up to a maximum of £4,200.

In addition to a claim for general damages there may be an argument that the Claimant is entitled to seek aggravated damages which are awarded in addition to general damages or aggravated features and exemplary damages which are awarded to show disapproval of police conduct.

This practice has dealt with a number of cases of this nature and each case is dealt with on its own facts. However, our specialist department can assist you in establishing whether there may be grounds for a claim.

If you believe you qualify to make a claim, contact us today for us to assess the merits of your case on 01633 262848.

For more information, please read our guide

Our Services

Civil Action Against The Police

When a person is arrested they are understandably upset. Sometimes people are handcuffed and detained in a police cell. On occasions, it is ultimately established that they have committed no offences and this can of course be aggravated if they have never been in trouble with the Police before.

Whilst understandably such conduct goes to the heart of people's human rights in terms of loss of liberty, this by itself does not give rise to a claim for damages against the police. However, subject to consideration of the facts of the claim, it may give rise to causes of action for wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and battery (if handcuffs are used).

Pursuing a Claim for Wrongful Arrest

To pursue a claim for unlawful arrest, the burden is on the Chief Constable of any police authority to justify the arrest.

A constable may arrest without warrant:-

- Anyone who is about to commit an offence - Anyone who is in the act of committing an offence - Anyone who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence - Anyone who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence

If a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed may arrest without warrant anyone who he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of it.

If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without warrant:-

- Anyone who is guilty of the offence - Anyone who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it

Whilst the above criteria is helpful in understanding arrest without warrant conditions the Power of Arrest summary as set out above is only exercisable if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing it is necessary to arrest the person in question.

The necessity reasons are:-

- To enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in a case where the constable does not know and cannot readily ascertain the persons name) or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name - Correspondingly as regards to the persons address - To prevent the person causing physical injury to himself or another; suffering physical injury; causing loss or damage to property; committing an offence against public decency and causing unlawful obstruction of the highway - To protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question - To allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or the conduct of the person - To prevent any prosecution got the offence being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

Such provisions are contained within Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the Code of Practice for the Statutory Power of Arrest by police officers.

Richardson v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police - The Court has established that it may not be considered necessary to arrest a suspect whom is fully co-operative with police investigations, particularly where a suspect would voluntarily attend the Police station for the purpose of being interviewed.

Whilst the above criteria is helpful in establishing whether a prima facie case exists, breach of the code itself will not ordinarily give rise to a claim for damages against the Chief Constable. There are a number of legal principles which apply to arrest which have to be considered when ascertaining whether or not the arrest was lawful.

Taking the above matters into consideration, it is therefore necessary when looking at the general principles of arrest for the court to look at both the officer's reasonable suspicion and whether the arrest itself was necessary.

In this context, the Court must look at the state of mind of the arresting officer to determine whether he/she had the requisite suspicion and determine what material he was relying on to provide "reasonable grounds" for the arrest and whether the arrest was "necessary".

In relation to "reasonable grounds to suspect" there are three questions to be considered:

1. Did the arresting officer suspect that the person who has been arrested was guilty of the offence?

To answer this, it depends entirely on the findings of the fact as to the officers state of mind.

2. Was there reasonable cause for the suspicion?

This is a purely objective requirement to be determined by the Judge and if necessary, on the facts found by a Jury.

If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, then the officer has discretion which entitles him to make an arrest. In relation to the discretion, the question arises as to whether the discretion has been exercised in accordance with the Wednesbury Provisions.

Following a change in the law in January 2006 the necessity condition was an addition to Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Whilst this has not been subject to detailed analysis, it is clear that the same questions will arise both in relation to reasonable grounds to suspect and reasonable grounds for believing the arrest was necessary for any of the reasons stated above.

Reasonable grounds to suspect has both subjective and objective questions:

1. Subjective - The chief constable must prove that the arresting officer did in fact suspect that the arrested person was guilty of the offence for which he was arrested.

2. Objective - The standard of "reasonable cause" or "reasonable grounds" is not a high one. In a number of cases, arrests have been held to have been lawful in situations where there was only a limited amount of evidence against a potential subspect,

Indeed, the arresting officer in form of such grounds may rely upon hearsay evidence from a member of the public and once reasonable grounds are present, the police have no duty to make further investigations as to the strength of the evidence.

False Imprisonment

Even if a Chief Constable is able to show that an arrest was lawful, there are subsequent provisions that have to be complied with to ensure that the continued detention is lawful. Such provisions are set out in part IV of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 as amended.

After a person has been arrested, it is the custody officer who must determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a person for the arrest which he was arrested.

If there is insufficient evidence to charge a person, the custody officer must release him and her on bail, unless the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing the persons detention without charge is necessary to secure and preserve evidence relation to the offence or to obtain evidence through questioning.

If there is sufficient evidence against the person, he must be charged or released and any breach of part IV will mean that any subsequent detention was unlawful.

Arrest

When an arrest takes place a police officer is entitled to use reasonable force to detain the person that he or she is arresting.

The use of handcuffs is prima facie unlawful and can only be justified if the arrest was lawful and the use of handcuffs constituted "reasonable force". It is in this context that the use of handcuffs depends on the circumstances but is often made on an objective basis for believing that a person may escape or use violence.

If none of the above features are present, this may give rise to a claim for damages.

Value of the Claim

Guidance in relation to the value of such claims can be obtained from the leading case of Thompson v The Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis. Following this case it was decided that the first hour of an unlawful arrest and detention is approximately £700, on a reducing scale for a period of 24 hours, up to a maximum of £4,200.

In addition to a claim for general damages there may be an argument that the Claimant is entitled to seek aggravated damages which are awarded in addition to general damages or aggravated features and exemplary damages which are awarded to show disapproval of police conduct.

This practice has dealt with a number of cases of this nature and each case is dealt with on its own facts. However, our specialist department can assist you in establishing whether there may be grounds for a claim.

If you believe you qualify to make a claim, contact us today for us to assess the merits of your case on 01633 262848.

For more information, please read our guide

At Collingbourne Hennah Law we have a specialist team who deal with the following areas of law:

If you have a case that you would like to discuss in more detail Contact us

Fill in the form below and we'll be in touch..

Name
Phone Number
Email
Subject
Message