Civil Liberties

Damages for man attacked by youths moments after police witnessed them threatening him but still chose to leave scene

6 min read time

Humberside Police has agreed a compensation settlement with a man who was attacked by youths moments after officers – who witnessed them being aggressive towards him and threatening to follow him – left the scene.

In subsequent investigations following the incident, which included reviewing body worn video footage, a sergeant – who was the senior of the two officers at the scene – admitted he ‘lacked confidence in confrontational situations’ and his lack of action had been neglectful.

He chose to leave the scene despite his less senior colleague, a female special constable, questioning the decision not to take any actions against the youths.

The officers had attended a call-out in Hull on a June evening in 2023 after residents had called to report two youths damaging vehicles in the street.

The sergeant and special constable spoke to residents and had returned to their car when they saw two youths and approached them.

It was as the officers were talking to them that the man passed by walking his dog, only for one of the youths to become aggressive towards him, shouting ‘what are you staring at’, approaching him and grabbing him by the collar, pushing him and saying he was going to ‘beat him up.’

After an altercation, fully witnessed by the officers, the man continued on his way, but one of the youths shouted ‘I’m going to go after him’ – a threat caught on one of the officers’ body worn camera – as he walked away.

In statements made to a Humberside Police Professional Standards Investigation, it was detailed how the special constable asked the sergeant if a public order offence had been committed, and if they should follow the youths, to which he replied, “no, we need to get out of the area” and they left.

Moments later the man was attacked from behind by the youths. He was hit on the head from behind and knocked to the ground. Witnesses told how the youths were seen punching, spitting and pushing the man before a woman took him into her home to protect him.

At that point the two youths began kicking at her door and shouting, with the incident lasting around half an hour until other police officers arrived at the scene.

‘It was disgusting – they just left me’

Speaking about the incident, the man who was attacked, said: “I was just walking my dog and saw the police talking to these two youths. My dog started barking at them so I must have laughed or smiled, and then the next thing one of the youths had come over to me and was right in my face and shouting at me.

I told him to calm down and said he must have me confused with somebody else as I’d never met him in my life and so I couldn’t understand why he was being like he was towards me.

As I was walking off I heard some shouting towards me and one of the officers saying ‘leave him alone or I’ll arrest you’.

I walked around the corner when all of a sudden I was hit on the head from behind and I found myself alone in a dark street being attacked by these two lads. I can even remember seeing the police car driving off in the distance, and I can’t repeat what I thought about them.

All of a sudden I thought ‘this isn’t good’ as I was all alone and had nowhere to go. Thankfully a woman who lived nearby was returning from her work shift and she shouted at them to leave me alone, and another resident came out and told me to go into her house, but even then they were kicking and shouting at the door.

I was really annoyed with the police as they could have stopped it from the moment the lad got in my face, but they just sat in the car. Then they just drove off, not making any attempt to make sure nothing escalated. It was disgusting.

I was able to look after myself pretty well and fend them off as they attacked me, but what if it had been somebody elderly. A week or so later, not far from where this happened to me, a man was hit and killed. That’s when I decided to make a complaint.

Legal case led to damages settlement out of court

The man was represented in a legal claim against the force by solicitor Alexandra Eldon, part of a team at Hudgell Solicitors which specialises in legal actions against police forces when they fail to protect the public to standards expected.

She alleged the officers’ failure to protect the man, having witnessed him being subjected to verbal aggression and threats, was a breach of duty.

“The officers failed to take any steps at all to protect my client from these two youths, despite having witnessed him being threatened,” she said.

They chose not to intervene when he had been the subject of verbal aggression. Had they done so, it is likely he would not have been the victim of the physical attack.

When he made a formal complaint and it was reviewed by Humberside Police Professional Standards Department, it was deemed that the service provided by the officers was not acceptable and learnings were identified.

The incident left my client with multiple cuts and bruises and a mild concussion which lasted for a few days. As a result, he had to take a few days off work due to sickness and nausea. It left him feeling very anxious to go out as he was left feeling vulnerable walking the streets.

The Humberside Police Professional Standards Investigation concluded that the Sergeant’s actions would, on the balance of probabilities, be classed as misconduct.

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If you believe that you or a member of your family has been harmed as a result of a civil liberties breach through no fault of their own, then there could be compensation owed.

You can organise a free, no-obligation legal consultation with one of our team to discuss whether or not you have a case, or fill out an online claim form.

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Police Failure to Investigate Claims

When the police fail to effectively investigate allegations or incidents of serious violent crime, and serious threats of violence, they can leave the lives of those they are expected to protect in danger.

Sadly, there are frequent examples of innocent people being seriously harmed, or killed, by those who have been previously been reported to the police, or have been alerted to them as a potentially serious danger to others.

In such situations, it is only right that police forces are questioned over the adequacy of their investigations, held to account for failings, and compensate those who have suffered most as a result.

Read more: Experts in Police Failure to Investigate Claims

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