Actions Against the Police
Claims Against Police Compensation Claims
If your civil liberties or human rights have been infringed because of some form of police misconduct, harassment, or abuse of power, then you may be entitled to compensation. It’s worth discussing your situation with a solicitor in confidence to find out whether you can make a claim.
The latest statistics from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) show that there are some 35,000 complaints each year about the police. Many of these complaints concern some form of police misconduct such as wrongful arrest, assault, or discrimination. Get in touch with our expert police compensation solicitors to set up a free, no-obligation consultation and discuss your circumstances, to find out whether you could be entitled to claim compensation.
Specialists in Claims against the Police
Our actions against the police and civil liberties lawyers are part of a department which is nationally recognised as leaders in the field of human rights law and actions against the police. Our solicitors are a members of the Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG) which is a specialist national group for lawyers who handle action against the police claims.
- We offer competitive private funding rates and routinely act for clients who pay privately. We are proud of the service we offer to our clients.
- We are also a practice that has the benefit of a legal aid franchise and as such, are able to act for the most vulnerable clients, at no cost to you.
- Our lawyers are active members of key associations including INQUEST Lawyers Group.
- Award winning team who have been nationally recognised and widely accredited for delivering civil liberties legal services to our clients.
This is a mark of quality awarded by The Law Society to law firms who demonstrate and maintain the highest levels of management and customer care standards. Re-assessment for Lexcel is carried out annually to ensure we continue to meet required standards of excellence in areas such as client care, case management and risk management.
Making a Claim Against the Police
The majority of legal actions against the police for misconduct involve wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment, and assault or injuries resulting from excessive force that has been used during restraint. However, there are many other types of misconduct, including:
- Malicious prosecution – where a prosecution is conducted spitefully and without reasonable or probable cause
- Misconduct in public office – where an officer acts unlawfully, knows that they are acting unlawfully and does so knowing that their actions are likely to cause loss or harm
- Human Rights Act breaches (e.g. not protecting your data or conducting an unlawful strip search)
- Trespass to property or goods (e.g. if police forcefully enter your home without a warrant or damage your property or possessions)
- Discrimination (e.g. racial, sexual, religious etc)
- Unlawful stop and search (often in conjunction with racial discrimination)
- Breaches of the Bail Act 1976
- Breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984
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How much will my claim cost?
Bringing a no win no fee legal action against the police will not cost you a penny up front, and if successful, you will only be expected to pay a contribution to your solicitor’s fees and any insurance (if required) at the conclusion. These costs are usually a percentage of the compensation you are awarded.
Depending on your circumstances, we may also be able to provide legal aid cover. Contact our experienced civil liberties solicitors to find out if you’re eligible. With our ‘no win no fee’ police claims service, it won’t cost you anything to begin the process of getting the justice you deserve:
- Personal insurance cover so there’s no financial risk to you in pursuing a claim.
- Whatever the outcome of your case, you won’t have to pay (if you fully assist us with your claim) other than an agreed percentage of your damages.
- Legal aid assistance is available in some circumstances.
For us to properly assess your claim we recommend that you make a formal complaint to the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct). While many people are keen to start their claim immediately, making a complaint at an early stage can have many benefits, including shortening the length of the claim when it is started.
A complaint should be made as soon as possible and doing so poses no financial risk to you. The police may respond with an admission of fault or an appreciation that a situation could have been handled differently. The complaint response can provide valuable information which we can form the basis of your claim, allowing us to anticipate any key points of dispute that may arise at a later stage.
The IOPC is a public body independent of any individual police force that is responsible for governing and overseeing the system of complaints made against the Police Forces in England and Wales.
While the IOPC is responsible for overseeing the police complaints system, only certain complaints involving death, serious assault, or sexual offences will actually be investigated by them directly.
Everything else will be dealt with by the Professional Standards Department of the relevant police force, who will provide you with a formal written response detailing the outcome of their investigation.
What the IOPC cannot do is order that compensation be paid. If you ask them for this as a remedy, it’s likely they will refuse to investigate your complaint and instead suggest that you contact a lawyer.
Common examples of misconduct that you may have been subjected to include:
If possible, your complaint should be submitted in writing within 12 months of the alleged misconduct and contain all relevant information (see below) to enable your complaint to be fully investigated.
When you have finished your draft complaint, one of our police claims lawyers can consider the content and provide additional assistance prior to sending the final copy to the IOPC. Email a copy of your complaint to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should include:
We’ll review your complaint and advise you on any amends before you formally submit it to the IOPC.
Once the complaint has been lodged, the IOPC will provide you with an initial acknowledgement. If the decision is made to refer it to the Professional Standards Department you can expect a response within 15 working days as to whether the complaint is to be investigated, together with the reasons for the decision and how it is to be investigated.
If the IOPC decide to refer your complaint to the Professional Standards Department, there is always the chance that once they have reviewed it further, it may become apparent that due to the serious nature of the allegations a referral back to the IOPC is required.
When you are in receipt of a final written response, contact us with a copy for us to review so that we may assess the prospects of a successful civil claim and help you understand whether you’re entitled to compensation.
Should you have any queries in relation to making a complaint, please do not hesitate to contact us where will be more than happy to advise further.
What will be considered when investigating an officer?
An officer under investigation will be tested against the Standards of Professional Behaviour. These include:
Depending on the circumstances of your complaint and whether it’s handled by the IOPC or the Professional Standards Department, the procedure will vary.
If the complaint is dealt with by the IOPC:
The investigation carried out will involve taking witness statements from police officers or members of police staff, analysing CCTV footage, and obtaining other documents and records. They may also wish to take a statement from you as well. If they do, we recommend you send the draft statement to us before signing it so we can consider the contents.
At the end of the investigation, you will be provided with a report that will set out the findings and conclusions. It will also include a clear indication as to whether there is a case to answer for misconduct or poor performance.
If there is a suggestion that a member of the police has committed a criminal offence, the report will also be forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service who are responsible for deciding if a person should be prosecuted.
If your complaint against the police was in relation to a death and an inquest is to be held, the IOPC will also provide their report and evidence to the Coroner to be considered at the inquest.
If the complaint is to be dealt with by the Professional Standards Department:
There are two levels of investigatory procedures that the police force subject to investigation may consider employing, depending on the nature of the allegations and, if proved, the element of redress available to them:
Some complaints do not require IOPC intervention but may, in fact, result in the police force explaining, apologising, or advising on additional training requirements. While this is the simplest way to resolve a complaint, it is not a reason to believe that the misconduct you are complaining about is any less serious.
You cannot appeal against the result of a Local Resolution. However, you must be asked whether you agree to local resolution before it can go ahead and can state whether you disagree with the result.
You cannot be compelled to use this procedure and should not feel under any obligation to do so. If you consider that you are being pressured into this method of redress, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to advise further.
Should you refuse to have your complaint dealt with by way of local resolution, the Professional Standards Department will appoint an officer to investigate your complaint. You will be told how your complaint is to be investigated, what is required from you, how a decision is to be reached, and the eventual action to be taken.
The investigation may conclude that the officers subject to complaint should be dealt with by way of misconduct proceedings. You will be contacted with details of these proceedings and will be offered the chance to appear before a panel chaired by a legally-qualified professional together with the officer subject to the misconduct charge also being in attendance.
If there is a finding of gross misconduct the strictest penalty that may be levied against the officer (subject to complaint) is dismissal from the police force.
You can appeal to the IOPC in the following circumstances:
The letter telling you the outcome of your complaint should include information about how to appeal and the time limits involved. It is important that you lodge any appeal within the time limit provided otherwise your appeal may not be considered.
Before you do so we strongly recommend that you contact us so that we can review the letter and advise as to points that could or should be appealed.
You will be contacted at an early stage of your complaint by the nominated investigating officer. After this you will be updated at least every 28 days via letter or email.
There is currently no limit on the length of time for any investigation regardless of who is nominated to deal with your complaint and how. However, we do expect that once your complaint has been acknowledged and assigned to someone an indication should be given to you as to how long the investigation is likely to take.
If for whatever reason you are dissatisfied during the investigation, please feel free to contact one of our specialist lawyers who may be able to advise further.