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Actions against Police and State

Civil Actions

Over the years we have helped hundreds of people take civil action against the police and state.

We have a wealth of experience in advising and representing clients in a wide range of complex and multi-claimant actions. We have a proven track record of achieving successful outcomes for our clients and holding the police and state to account.

They are testing the limits of public order and policing in London. Bindmans are punching the edge of the interface with policing and free speech due to their excellent criminal and civil liberties teams. They are a go-to firm for protest litigation.

Chambers and Partners 2019

Our civil action experts are able to help with the following:

Assault and battery

A claim for assault and battery can be brought where police or other state bodies unlawfully use force.

The force might have been unlawful because there was no basis at all for using it. For instance, if your arrest was unlawful then any force used during the arrest was also likely to be unlawful. Alternatively, the force might have been unlawful as a result of being excessive – that is, too much force was used.

Claims for assault and battery can involve any unlawful contact, from unwanted touching to where serious injuries are caused. This can include a range of situations involving police officers, including the following:

  • Striking or hitting
  • Restraining
  • Tasering
  • Preventing someone from walking away
  • Applying handcuffs
  • Taking DNA or fingerprints
  • Strip searching

Our civil actions team has extensive experience of claims for assault and battery including those resulting in the most serious, life-changing injuries.

Wrongful arrest/false imprisonment

A claim for false imprisonment can be brought where you have been unlawfully detained when you should not have been for any period of time.

The police have various powers to arrest and detain individuals. You can bring a claim for false imprisonment where they act outside of those powers in detaining you, such as if you are:

  • Wrongfully arrested
  • Held in custody when you should not have been, or for longer than you should have been
  • Subjected to a stop and search when you should not have been

Other bodies also have the power to detain, including prisons, the Home Office, Court Service, and private security firms. Again, you can claim for false imprisonment where they act outside of those powers, including if you:

  • Are seeking asylum in the UK but have been held in an immigration removal centre when you should not have been
  • Are serving a prison sentence and have been kept in prison for longer than you should have been
  • Have been mistakenly detained in prison due to an administrative error of the court or prison service
Malicious prosecution

Some of the most serious and well-known cases of police misconduct relate to individuals being wrongly prosecuted.

If this has happened to you it may be possible to bring a malicious prosecution claim for compensation.

Two points must be established before bringing malicious prosecution claims. The first is that a prosecution has been brought against you – this is usually straightforward. The second is that the prosecution concluded in your favour – for instance, you were acquitted at court or the case was dropped.

Where these initial hurdles are overcome it will then be necessary to look at what the police did, and why. A number of issues will be relevant here, such as whether officers genuinely believed you were guilty. Another is the motivation of the officers in prosecuting you and whether they acted with malice, or in bad faith.  Malicious prosecution claims are complex, largely because these are often very difficult questions to answer.

However complex your claim, with the benefit of expert guidance you can maximise the chances of establishing the truth. Our team is highly experienced and successful in assisting clients looking to do precisely that.

Misfeasance in public office

The police and other state agencies should only use their powers for the public good. If powers are used for an improper purpose then you may be able to bring a compensation claim for misfeasance in public office.

To bring such a claim two things must be established at the outset. First, the conduct in question was carried out by a ‘public officer’. This will usually include police officers and employees of state agencies, such as prison and immigration officers. Second, the conduct caused you either financial loss, damage to your reputation, or personal injury.

If this is established, it will then be necessary to look at what the officer did, and why.

You must show that the officer intended to cause the damage in question, or did not care this damage was likely to be caused. Essentially, you must be able to demonstrate that the officer acted in bad faith.

However complex your case, the guidance of specialist civil action lawyers will help you establish the truth and maximise your chances of succeeding in your claim. Our team has a wealth of experience in assisting clients with this.

Negligence

If the police or other state agency does something wrong which causes you damage, you may be able to claim compensation from them.

To be successful in a negligence claim for compensation you must be able to demonstrate three things. The first is that you were owed a duty of care. The second, that the duty was breached; and the third, that you suffered reasonably foreseeable damage as a result.

However, it is often more difficult to bring negligence claims against the police than it is against other state agencies. This is especially so if they were investigating or suppressing crime at the time in question. The courts have decided that the police only owe a duty of care in exceptional circumstances.

You might be able to bring a negligence claim against the police if, to name a few examples:

  • You were injured in a road traffic accident caused by the careless driving of a police officer
  • You were injured by an uncontrolled police dog
  • They wrongly issued a firearms licence to someone, or failed to revoke it, and that person then injured you with a firearm

If you can’t bring a claim for negligence, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation under the Human Rights Act, for example if:

  • You were the victim of a serious crime which the police failed to promptly and effectively investigate
  • The police accidentally disclosed your personal information to a third party

In relation to accidental disclosure of personal information, you may also be able to bring a claim for compensation under the Data Protection Act.

Whatever the precise nature of your claim, the benefit of specialist assistance will increase the chances of recovering your losses. Our civil action experts are highly experienced and have a solid track record of successfully assisting clients in these kinds of cases.

Trespass

If the police enter or remain on your property when they should not, you may be able to bring a claim for trespass.

The police are only allowed to enter your property if they have a lawful reason to do so.

The police will act unlawfully if, for example:

  • They wrongfully obtained a search warrant, or the search warrant they used was incorrect
  • The search exceeded the terms of the warrant or they searched more than the warrant allowed
  • They entered your property to arrest you but did not have grounds to arrest you

This may also breach your right to respect for your private and family life. If so, you can bring a claim under the Human Rights Act.

Whatever the precise nature of your claim, our civil action team is highly experienced and has a solid track record of successfully assisting clients in these kinds of cases.

Meet the team

Jules Carey
Partner

Head of Actions against Police and State

Anna Thwaites
Partner

Actions against Police and State

Christina Ashibogu
Solicitor

Actions against Police and State

Joanna Bennett
Solicitor

Actions against Police and State

Emily-Jade Defriend
Solicitor

Actions against Police and State

Rachel Harger
Solicitor

Actions against Police and State

Joseph Morgan
Solicitor

Actions against Police and State

Khariya Ali
Trainee solicitor

Actions against Police and State

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.