Hudgell Solicitors has secured damages for a man after officers arrested him at home having turned up at the wrong address.
The innocent man initially denied officers entry to his home as they would not confirm what their investigation was about, or show him any paperwork.
He eventually opened his door and was immediately apprehended and handcuffed whilst his home was searched.
However, it transpired the police had attended at the wrong address.
“This is a situation we are seeing quite commonly across many police forces so we were glad to receive full admissions from the force involved when representing our client in this particular case,” said Leanne Stephenson, of Hudgell Solicitors’ Civil Liberties department.
“His reluctance to open the door was understandable. His children were asleep and it was 3am, and it was his evidence that officers were not willing to tell him anything other than they had the right to search his home.
“They had a warrant, but that was to search a different address. The mistake was as simple as officers not reading the address correctly.
“It is a basic mistake, but one which can be terrifying for innocent people. Imagine being at home and a number of officers banging your door in the early hours, insisting they be let in, and then handcuffing you.
“It can be a terrifying situation and it should not be happening, but we have represented people in many similar cases.”
Legal case alleged search had been unlawful
As part of the legal representation provided for the man, who is in his 50s, it was alleged officers used unnecessary force despite the fact he had been posing no threat, and that the search had been unlawful.
Mrs Stephenson added: “Our client’s evidence was that he was forcibly pushed in the chest and, when handcuffed, pressed up against a wall as they searched the property.
“No level of force could be considered reasonable nor necessary, especially given the circumstances of being at the completely wrong address.
“Our client said he was trying to ask the officers to look at his identification but they just kept saying that somebody had given them that address. After they had concluded their search the officers left, and left the warrant documentation behind which had a different address written on it.
“He rang the police force having found this and it was confirmed to him that it had been a mistake. The force then admitted they had got the wrong address as part of a legal claim for damages, which has now been concluded.”
Mrs Stephenson says Hudgell Solicitors has also represented a number of people in cases where police forces have wrongfully used the power of entry, despite the alleged crimes not giving them the rights to do so.
“The power of search warrants and power of entry are valuable tools in helping police officers prevent crime and catch offenders, but they must always be used in accordance with the law,” he said.
“We have seen cases where police officers have forced entry to homes relating to investigations into summary offences, which are less serious crimes which would only be considered by magistrates and not a jury. They should not be doing this.
“Policing is all about using reasonable force and measures at all times, and that should not be forgotten as it is that which prevents the liberty of law-abiding members of the public.”