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.
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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:
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.
The conclusion of the IOPC report has been a long and sometimes frustrating process for the families who are desperate for answers. Following today’s PIR, we welcome having greater clarity on when we will see the report.
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.
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.
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.
Any physical force which has been used during making an arrest must be reasonable and proportionate. The arrest itself must also have been lawful, otherwise it may be considered assault. Any weapons used by the police, such as batons, tear gas, Taser guns, or firearms will be considered when a decision is being made as to whether the force used was reasonable.
If you have not committed an offence and an action is used which causes you to fear for your physical safety (e.g. a police officer raises their truncheon) this action may, without any actual physical contact, constitute assault. If physical contact is also made this may be considered battery.
The power to arrest a citizen should only be used by the police as a last resort. There must be a lawful reason to make an arrest in the first place, otherwise this can be a wrongful arrest.
In making an arrest, a certain procedure must be followed. Amongst other things, the arresting officer must identify themselves, tell you what crime you are suspected of having committed, and explain why an arrest is necessary.
Once you have been arrested, you can only be held in police custody for up to 24 hours – after that, the police must either charge you with a crime or release you. Extensions can be applied for – up to 36 or 96 hours if you’re suspected of a serious crime and 14 days if you’re arrested under the Terrorism Act. If you are held for longer than appropriate, this can constitute unlawful imprisonment.
There are some circumstances under which you may have a claim for false imprisonment by the police even if you were not actually taken into custody. Misuse of stop and search powers and containing crowds without letting individuals leave an area (known as “kettling”) can potentially lead to compensation claims of unlawful imprisonment.
There are also procedures which the police must follow while you are in custody. If these are not followed, then any ongoing detention could be unlawful.
Shocking levels of sexual exploitation carried out by police officers in England and Wales were exposed in a report which described the problem as a “disease” and labelled it the ‘most serious form’ of corruption facing forces across the UK.
The main findings outlined in the report were:
If you have been a victim of any form of exploitation at the hands of a police employee, you can call us in confidence for sympathetic, impartial and free legal advice.
For more information, please watch our police misconduct video:
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:
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