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HNK Solicitors successfully obtain compensation for unlawful stop and search

If you have been the victim of an unlawful stop and search, you can claim compensation. The police do not have the right to stop and search a person without reasonable or genuine suspicion.  HNK have a specialist team of solicitors who are experts in dealing with civil actions against the police. If you have ever been the victim of misconduct by the police our civil actions against the police solicitors can help you to obtain the outcome you desire.

Details of the case

Here is an example of a claim where we successfully obtained compensation for a client after they had been mistreated by the police. In this case, our client had been the victim of an unlawful stop and search. The facts as we discuss them are not agreed with the Defendant. On 7th January 2017, the Claimant was a passenger in J’s vehicle. The vehicle was pulled over by Officers acting under the direction and control of the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police. J exited the vehicle to speak to the three officers in attendence.

Officer A opened D’s passenger door and asked him for his name so he could conduct a Police National Computer (PNC) search to ascertain whether D had a criminal record. Officer A grabbed D by the left arm and dragged him out of the vehicle to the roadside. D was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which proved negative. Despite this, D was escorted to the back of the police van where he was detained for around 20-30 minutes.

Colour image of two British police officers in hi-visibility jacket patrolling in the city

Issues

In January 2017, D approached Higgs Newton Kenyon Solicitors to act on his behalf in the matter. After discussing the case we were happy to accept instructions on a No-Win-No-Fee agreement. This meant that our client did not have to pay legal fees if the case was lost. HNK had concerns that the officers breached their powers of a stop and search because they had no reasonable or genuine suspicion that prohibited substances would be found on D’s person. Once the search had proved negative, D should have been free to leave. However, he was detained in the back of the police van without lawful authority.

Given the officers were not acting in the execution of their duties, the use of force and search performed on D was considered trespass to his person. The power to stop and search is to confirm or allay suspicion. An officer executing a stop and search must back up why they used the power.

It must be executed fairly and not based on ‘stereotypical’ values. A search under the Misuse of Drugs Act must only be carried out if the officer has reasonable and genuine suspicion that the individual is in possession of controlled drugs.

two police officers stood outside car talking to the driver of the car

An unlawful stop and search

In April 2017, the Defendant denied liability on the ground that D was not searched or dragged out of the vehicle. The Defendant alleged that D was allowed to wait in the police van whilst J’s vehicle was searched. In support of their denial, documentation was provided, namely, the summary shift reports from the officers involved and a stop/search form. HNK contested this response.

D’s position was confirmed by J who corroborated that D was searched and detained. Upon reviewing the documents provided, HNK referred the Defendant’s attention to the stop/search report. This indicated D was spoken to and “searched negative result.” An officer cannot stop a person without reasonable grounds, the power must relate to the suspicion that an item will be found rather than a crime being committed.

D was not under a lawful arrest, therefore, the officers had no lawful authority to justify detention. The Claimant must simply prove that they were confined (unable to move freely). Then the onus lies on the Defendant to prove lawful justification. There is no minimum period of detention for a claim to succeed. However, the length of detention has a bearing on the level of compensation awarded.

Upclose picture of a flashing light on top of a police car against the background of blurred city lights

The outcome

In August 2017, the Defendant made an offer of £750.00. This was accepted on behalf of D in full and final settlement of the claim. The sole purpose of a civil action against the police claim is to obtain damages for mistreatment and get an admission of liability.

If you need help with a police claim contact HNK today

Our expert solicitors have specialist knowledge dealing with actions against the police and will be able to assess the best way to progress your case.

If you have been the victim of an unlawful stop and search by the police, contact our actions against the police department today. Call us on 0151 203 1104 or email us at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com.

 

 

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