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HNK Solicitors secure £84,734 in unlawful arrest claim

At HNK Solicitors, we have an experienced and dedicated action against the police department. We are highly experienced in helping clients to claim compensation after they have suffered mistreatment or misconduct by the police.

We recently accepted instruction on an unlawful arrest claim on a no-win, no-fee basis. Demi Drury, Senior Associate and Head of the action against the police department handled the case. The client, who will be referred to as M, came to HNK Solicitors after she was unlawfully arrested by Northamptonshire Police Officers. We managed to successfully obtain £84,734.80 in compensation for her unlawful arrest.

Background of the case

On 31st March 2017, Northamptonshire Police Officers came to M’s home address to conduct a welfare check. This was following an anonymous report to the NSPCC that she had been neglecting her two young children.

Two officers attended the property. They believed it was in a poor state of repair and messy, with 22 domestic animals living inside the property. However, the children were well and happy.

The claimant was arrested on suspicion of child neglect and her children were taken into police protection. M was searched whilst in custody, and her biometric data was taken.

M was detained for around 18 hours in police custody before being released with no further action.

An image of a womans hands handcuffed behind her back

The Law

To conduct a lawful arrest, the two limbs of section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (“PACE”), must be met. A police officer may arrest a person without a warrant if he has reasonable grounds to suspect that person of being guilty of an offence. This power of arrest is only exercisable if the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to arrest the person in question.

The unlawful arrest claim

In 2017, M approached HNK Solicitors and instructed us to act on her behalf in this matter. We accepted instruction on a no-win, no-fee basis. We then claimed damages on her behalf for false arrest and imprisonment and trespass to her person.

Why this was an unlawful arrest

An image of a solicitor sat at a wooden desk reading a document whilst holding a pen. In the foreground is a pair of scales - legal concept.

A letter of claim was served and the Defendant denied liability. Our expert action against the police solicitors reviewed the documents, including the body-worn video footage of the incident provided by the Defendant, and put forward the following submissions:

  • Officers A and B did not have the required reasonable grounds to suspect M committed an offence of child neglect. Officers A and B noted that although M’s house was in a poor state of repair, the children were well and happy. During Officers’ A and B’s discussion, they stated, “I don’t think she needs prosecuting, she just needs help”;it’s not a neglect aspect”, “I don’t think she is neglecting the children” and “I don’t think she needs us locking her up and taking her to custody”.
  • M’s arrest was not necessary for a prompt and effective investigation to obtain evidence by way of questioning. M was cooperative with the officers and is a woman of good character. Therefore, they could have invited her to the police station for a voluntary interview.
  • M’s arrest was not necessary for a prompt and effective investigation to secure and preserve the state of the property. The officers had obtained extensive body-worn video footage and photographs of the property. The Defendant could have conducted a more thorough search of the property or made enquiries as to whether she could stay elsewhere, without arresting her.
  • M’s arrest was not necessary to protect her children. The decision to take M’s children into protective custody had been made prior to her arrest.

The Defendant refused to accept any of M’s settlement offers and/or put forward any offers of settlement. Court proceedings were therefore issued on her behalf.

The outcome

Following a 4-day trial at Cardiff County Court, it was found that the arresting officer lacked reasonable grounds to suspect M was guilty of any offence.

Recorder Treverton-Jones QC concluded that whilst the threshold for establishing reasonable grounds is a very low one, “it is not non-existent” and the Defendant had failed to show the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe M committed an offence.

Recorder Treverton-Jones QC found in favour of M. He held that M’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment was unlawful. The court awarded M £84,734.80 in damages and legal costs.

Black and white image of a persons handcuffed hands with intertwined fingers

HNK Solicitors can help if you have suffered unlawful arrest

If you believe you have been unlawfully arrested and imprisoned, contact our actions against the police department. We can help with your unlawful arrest claim. Call us on 0151 203 1104 or email us at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com to see if we can assist you with obtaining compensation on your behalf.

 

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