If you have been injured as a result of police ill treatment or assault, whether that’s during an arrest or because the police failed to protect you from a criminal’s threats, you could claim personal injury compensation.
As protectors of the public, the police have sweeping powers to fight crime, arrest suspects and conduct the necessary investigations to bring criminals to justice. But while they are absolutely necessary, police powers are not without limit – at least, not in the UK where police abuse or brutality is unacceptable.
We understand the prospect of suing the police is daunting but as in any case of professional negligence, it is right that they are held to account. With the help of legally trained advisors, you have every chance of winning police compensation. They can partner you with specialist police misconduct solicitors who will be able to take on your police claim on a No Win No Fee basis. Call for free advice on 0800 234 6438 or, if you prefer, you can fill in this online contact form and request a call back.
A man who was shot and seriously injured in the leg by an armed police woman when her gun accidentally went off, has won compensation. It happened after police were called when Aaron Humphreys, 32, was spotted in a car holding a fake submachine gun. He later pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm and criminal damage.
Police officers are required to comply with strict laws and follow due process and procedure when carrying out their public duties. In the UK, new officers have to undergo some three years of rigorous training before being ‘let loose’. By the time they begin as newly qualified police officers, they should understand their duties of care towards members of the public and to those they arrest and investigate where a potential crime has been committed.
The majority of police act with integrity, fulfilling their duties to the best of their ability. However, mistakes happen and, in the worst cases, an officer’s conduct falls seriously below what’s acceptable. In circumstances where a breach of duty by an officer leads directly to someone being injured, police injury claims can be made against relevant police forces. Every police officer, whatever their rank, has a duty of care towards those with whom they are in contact in the course of their work.
That said, the obvious reality is that the police do sometimes have to use force in the proper exercise of their public duties, such as preventing crime, defending themselves from attack, protecting others from harm and making lawful arrests.
Even so, any force used must be reasonable in the circumstances. If there is undue force and someone is injured, the injured person could make a police claim – even if that person is the individual who is suspected (or convicted) of committing an offence.
The question is, how is this use of force regulated? Police officers are subject to a range of laws and guidance that they must follow when discharging their public duties. When, for example, arresting and questioning a suspect, officers must comply with:
An arresting officer is entitled to use force but no more than is reasonable and necessary when exercising their lawful power (s117 PACE)
For example, under PACE Code H 2019 on clinical treatment and attention, custody officers ensure a detainee receives appropriate clinical attention as soon as reasonably practicable if the person appears to be ill or injured (unless it’s a minor health issue).
The police also have a legal duty to refer all incidents involving a death or serious injury to an independent body called the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) (this was formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission).
Until recently, it’s traditionally been difficult to bring personal injury actions against the police following police misconduct based purely in common law negligence. This is because while the police owe a general duty of care towards the public at large, they owe no special duty of care towards a particular category of individuals. This is an important principle based on the fact that the public interest requires that the police are protected from negligence claims – otherwise they wouldn’t be able to perform their policing functions effectively.
This means you cannot usually bring a negligence claims against the police at common law where there has been police misconduct. Instead, there are other routes to claiming police compensation if you’ve been injured – the aim of which is to restore innocent victims to the position they were before they suffered injury and harm.
However, the law has been refined by the courts in recent years in favour of those seeking to bring claims against police forces. In 2018, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that where someone is injured as a result of a negligent arrest on the street by a police officer, the police are liable under the ordinary common law principle of negligence where the injury was reasonably foreseeable.
Furthermore, police immunity from negligence claims involving injury does not extend to omissions or failing to act. So, for example, where bystanders have suffered injuries because an officer failed to arrest an individual committing an offence, negligence claims for police compensation payouts could follow.
In practice, these types of claim would normally be in negligence and breach of statutory (and possibly other forms of civil claim, such as misfeasance in public office). However, these principles are reassuring for potential claimants for police misconduct and injury who can feel safe that the law is on their side .
Police abuse and police misconduct refers to a situation where a police officer abuses or neglects their powers by, for example, using excessive force or failing to follow the rules expected of them. Police ‘brutality’ is the even more flagrant disregard for rules of good conduct and is typically the excessive and unwarranted use of force by an officer, for example a criminal assault or battery.
Any improper conduct or abuse of power by an officer that results in physical and/or psychological harm should not go unpunished. This also extends to sexual abuse and assault actions on the part of officers. Members of the public should rightly expect that the police are there to protect and not to harm them or put them at risk of injury. Similarly, criminals and suspects can also rightly expect that police treatment during arrest, questioning and custody is carried out properly, reasonably and in a professional manner.
If you’re the victim of police abuse and your lawyer believes you have a reasonable chance of winning a claim, you should be able to make a claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you will not have to pay out any legal costs if you do not win. Call now for free advice and an initial assessment on 0800 234 6438 or, if you prefer, ask for a call back by using the online contact form.
Police officers are not given carte blanche when using force. Even in circumstances when it is reasonable and necessary to use force, they are restricted in how they apply that force. A use of force ‘incident’ is a situation in which the officer uses any of these tactics in respect of another person (as opposed to public order events):
31 complaints of police abuse of power for sexual gain were under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct in Spring 2022
Police abuse and ill-treatment can take many different forms with many different effects. The most common types of police mistreatment that risk causing injury include:
The most important step you can take if you or a loved one has been injured because of police negligence or assault is to get in touch for early expert legal advice. This will be your best chance of securing the police compensation you deserve.
For more information about how you can make your no win no fee police abuse claim, you can speak to an experienced advisor on 0800 234 6438. There’s no obligation to proceed, but if you decide to go ahead, they’ll put you in touch with specialist lawyers with a proven track record in police misconduct claims who can take you through the claiming process.
Legal aid is unavailable for the vast majority of police compensation claims, however the law recognises that everyone has the right to compensation for injuries caused by another person – even where the police are responsible. No win no fee makes this possible for those who have a reasonable chance of recovering police compensation payouts.
This is particularly important in police abuse injury cases because they are not the easiest types of case to prove (which is why you will only be partnered with specialist police injury lawyers).
No win no fee accident claims are made on the basis of a conditional fee agreement between you and your solicitor. This means you will not be asked to pay out any money to begin your compensation claim, nor will you have to pay any legal fees if you don’t win your case.
You will only pay legal fees when you win your case. This removes the financial risk from claiming compensation and means you won’t be left with a bill you can’t afford. If you win your claim for police injury compensation, you will pay what is known as a solicitors’ ‘success fee’. This is a percentage of how much financial compensation you receive and it will never be more than 25% of the money you receive.
Police solicitors and personal injury law firms are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which is always highly reassuring for individuals bringing actions against the police.
For more information about how to make your no win no fee police injury claim, speak to an experienced advisor on 0800 234 6438. If you decide to proceed with your claim, they’ll be able to put you in touch with a specialist police injuries solicitor who can take you through the next steps.
Police officers often have to use some form of force in the execution of their duties, whether that’s ramming a front door down to gain access to property, using a baton or tackling a knife-wielding individual to the ground and handcuffing them. In some situations, using a fair amount of force will rightly be needed to arrest an individual.
However, when an officer needs to use physical force while carrying out their duties, the level of force they use must be necessary, reasonable and proportionate. If they use excess force and someone is injured as a result, it could amount to breach of duty and assault.
To what extent an officer’s use of force was excessive will be a subjective issue in many cases. In other words, whether the force used by a police officer in a particular situation was excessive depends on the circumstances. For example, there are cases where no force should have used – but it was.
Suppose you were wrongfully arrested and you suffered an injury. There were no reasonable grounds for the police officer to have any suspicion that you had or were about to commit a criminal offence. In this situation, any use of force at all was unlawful – because it was not necessary under PACE. Just because the officer can use force does not mean they must.
In situations where the use of force was necessary in the exercise of the officer’s lawful duties, the question as to whether the actual use of force was excessive will depend on how the circumstance appeared to that officer. This is known as a ‘subjective’ test and poses a challenge for lawyers because it effectively requires considering what would have been in the officer’s mind at the time.
Officers must account for or justify their use of force based upon their honestly held belief at the time that they used the force. The use of any weapons, such as batons and tear gas, will be taken into account in deciding whether the force used was reasonable in the circumstances.
The officer’s record of the incident will be useful when this point becomes an issue in the course of your claim. The police officer is expected to record:
We’ve seen how any force used by the police must be necessary and reasonable in the circumstances. If the use or application of force is unreasonable, injuries are likely to follow. Typical non-accidental injuries caused by the police use of force include:
In addition, the physical force used could amount to an assault or battery, leading to criminal charges being brought against the officer concerned.
Yes, anyone who has suffered personal or psychological injury at the hands of the police and the injuries were avoidable can claim compensation from the police. However, even in circumstances where an individual has the legal right to sue the police, it can be challenging to prove. For this reason, it is strongly recommended you seek free legal advice from specialist police solicitors from the outset.
In practice, your claim will usually be brought against the police force which employs the officer, rather than the officer themselves. This is under the legal principle of vicarious liability, which means that the force is held legally responsible for the actions or omissions of the police officer in the line of duty. This only applies to civil liability – the officer will be personally liable if criminal proceedings follow.
In some cases, the most sensible course of action may be to bring your compensation claim against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This may be appropriate where:
Importantly, your behaviour will be taken into account if you were to consider making a claim to the CICA. For example, if you were committing a crime or your behaviour at the relevant time was suspicious – before, during or after the incident – you may well not be entitled to compensation.
If you are advised to make a CICA claim, it must be brought as soon as possible – and at the latest, within two years of the incident. You must also make sure you’ve formally reported the incident to the police promptly.
Unlike normal negligence claims following injury, criminal injuries compensation is awarded on a fixed tariff basis and is also typically lower.
In the year to March 2021, there were 562,280 recorded incidents in which a police officer used force. 80% of these took the form of police restraint, such as handcuffing
Anyone who has lost a loved one following suspected police abuse or mistreatment could be legally entitled to claim compensation. It is vital to seek specialist advice as early as possible while events are fresh in your mind, even though it is immensely distressing.
The most common types of fatalities involving the police tend to follow fatal shootings, high speed car chases, and prolonged restraining of suspects leading to heart attacks. These are extremely traumatic incidents for the victim and their families. While compensation cannot wind the clock back, a pay-out can go some way to helping the family – particularly the victim’s dependents – in getting their lives back on track.
In a successful claim, you may also get a police apology which can help to reduce the risk of anyone else suffering a similar trauma. Call to speak with an experienced advisor on 0800 234 6438 who can support you with your claim, or simply complete the online form to request a call back.
If you’re claiming for police assault injury compensation, you may also be able to make a separate claim for being wrongfully arrested and/or breach of the Human Rights Act. When the police make an arrest, the procedures set out in PACE (and related codes) must be followed – and if they are not, the individual arrested may have grounds to claim for breach of duty.
Even if you were lawfully arrested, you may have suffered an injury while being held in custody and / or you might have been detained for longer than the law permits. For instance, the police are not allowed to detain a suspect for more than 24 hours without charging them or releasing them, unless they have permission from magistrates to have an extension of time for further questioning. If the police breach these rules and you suffer harm, you may be able to sue.
Even the misuse or abuse of stop and search power can amount to unlawful imprisonment, and lead to negligence claims and other actions against the police.
Human rights issues may also arise, given that everyone has a number of human rights protected by law. For example, we each have the ‘right to life’ under Article 2 Human Rights Act. In circumstances where, for example, officers have failed to seek medical assistance for a suspect who is being detained and the individual dies as a direct result, a human rights claim may be made.
For free legal advice on the range of compensation claims and other actions against the police that may be available to you, call 0800 234 6438 or simply complete the online form to request a call back.
You might be able to claim for misfeasance in public office in addition to a negligence or breach of duty claim for your injuries. Misfeasance in public office on the part of the police is essentially where an officer has abused or misused their power in the exercise of their public role; this has caused injury or damage to an individual; and the officer knew their conduct would likely cause harm – including physical injury.
This requires more than a ‘mistake’ and it is necessary to prove ‘bad faith’ – for example, deliberately exercising their powers to injure an individual. That might be, for example wrongful imprisonment or wrongful conviction.
Given that you have six years in which to bring a misfeasance claim, this course of action may be available to an individual who finds themselves ‘out of time’ in bringing a personal injury claim. Your specialist police solicitors will be able to advise you on all the potential grounds for claiming where you have suffered injuries relating to police misconduct or abuse.
If your private property has been damaged by the police because they used excessive force, or they failed to comply with PACE; or if they have entered your home without lawful reason, you may have a claim. If you can show you have been discriminated against on the grounds of your race, religion or gender, for instance, you can make a civil claim. You might also have a claim for malicious prosecution.
If your claim is based on malicious prosecution, you would need to show that the police had no reasonable cause to bring charges against you, and that they had a ‘wrong motive’ in doing so. You would have to successfully defend any charges brought against you, or have the charges dropped or thrown out, if you have any chance of succeeding in a civil claim against the police.
If you have been the victim of police abuse or police misconduct, it is vitally important to take certain practical steps as soon as possible. These type of actions against the police can be particularly complex and challenging, so you’ll need to start obtaining evidence to support your claim.
See a medical professional – If you haven’t already done so, see a doctor for medical advice and treatment. Apart from anything else, the medical records will be important evidence in your claim.
Make a formal police complaint – Make sure you lodge a police complaint with the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The fact of your police complaint and how it is handled and investigated by the relevant police force will be important evidence.
Witnesses’ contact information – Were there any witnesses to the incident? If so, make sure you have their name and contact details so that witness statements can be obtained.
Write everything down – We strongly recommend you write down your recollections of what happened, including the time and date, what actually happened, where it happened and your injuries. Also keep a diary of how your injuries happened and your recovery, including the impact on your mental health (and life in general).
Photos and CCTV – This depends on the nature of what happened, but it may be useful to take photos of where the incident took place and try to find out if there may be any CCTV recordings. Photos of any injuries you may have sustained would be a big help too. If you recall the police officer (and any fellow police officer) wearing a bodycam, let your solicitor know as the evidence may be crucial.
Your solicitor is also likely to look into what, if any, suspension or disciplinary proceedings may have begun in relation to the officer/s concerned; and whether there is any criminal investigation into their conduct. If there are, this could also be important evidence in your support of your claim.
Yes, you will need to have an expert medical assessment carried out by a specialist doctor who will then write a report on your injuries. You don’t need to worry about the cost as your solicitor will arrange this for you when the time comes and the fee will be covered by your no win no fee agreement.
The medical expert will talk to you about the incident and your injuries and discuss any ongoing physical symptoms, and whether they think further treatment will be necessary. They will then write a detailed report which your lawyers will rely to negotiate maximum compensation on your behalf.
To make a successful police misconduct or police abuse compensation claim, your solicitor will need to show on balance that there has been negligence and/or breach of duty and that this directly caused your injuries.
The most important step you should make is to take expert legal advice as early as possible while events are fresh in your mind. Don’t forget to make a formal police complaint if you haven’t already. Once your solicitor has all the information they can gather to support your claim, you can be sure they will work to recover maximum compensation.
For free legal advice about making your police compensation claim, call 0800 234 6438 or simply complete the online form to request a call back.
Whilst compensation is the primary outcome of successful injury actions against the police, you could also be entitled to further remedies in the case of police misconduct. These could include a police apology, destruction of DNA records held by the police, and removal of your personal details from the police national computer.
In some legal actions against the police, the officer themselves may face disciplinary proceedings. And in the most serious cases, the office could face criminal prosecution as a result of their actions.
Experienced police claims solicitors will seek the maximum range of remedies for you, and not simply compensation.
Your police abuse compensation claim or malicious prosecution claim could include amounts for:
How much compensation individuals could recover in ‘general’ damages when bringing actions against the police will reflect the nature and extent of your injury and the impact on your life. Your solicitor will gather all the information available before calculating how much compensation should be entitled to.
Each case is different and it’s difficult early on to estimate how much you might receive. However, there are official guidelines – the Judicial College Guidelines (2022 edition) – which personal injury specialists refer to when calculating compensation amounts. For example:
You can also try our online compensation calculator for a rough, initial estimate of how much your police abuse injury compensation claim may be worth – but bear in mind it should only be treated as a guide. Your specialist personal injury solicitors will discuss this with you in more detail.
Suffering needlessly at the hands of the police is extremely distressing and can cause long-lasting psychological damage, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whether it’s the result of sexual assault, injury or malicious prosecution. You may be suffering panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety; you may be fearful of leaving your house.
Thankfully, your solicitor will be able to claim compensation for your psychological trauma so it’s really important you are as open as you can about the mental and emotional impact on you. To help support your claim, you will need to have a psychologist or psychiatrist assessment carried out so that they can write a report on the impact of the police abuse and your injuries on you.
However, you don’t need to be concerned about the cost – as with the specialist medical assessment, the cost of your psychological report will be covered by your no win no fee agreement. Be assured that your police abuse solicitors will be familiar with the impact on victims and will take the necessary steps to secure the full compensation you deserve.
Your special damages are intended to compensate you both for your financial losses so far and the losses and expenses you expect to suffer in future. For example:
To help you recover as much as possible, make sure you keep proof of any expenses you have already paid out for as a direct result of the incident, as well as lost earnings. Gather together your receipts and invoices, care costs and pay slips, etc and hand them over to your solicitor.
Whatever the harm or loss you have suffered at the hands of the police, it is important to take action as soon as possible because of strict time limits. In the case of personal injuries, you normally have three years from the date of injury to start legal proceedings. After three years, you could be ‘time-barred’ from making a claim.
If you’re claiming on someone else’s behalf (usually if they are a child / lack mental capacity) the three years starts to run from the age of 18 or the date on which the injured person regains their capacity.
Importantly, by starting your claim early on, you will have the benefit of remembering clearly what happened and being able to contact any witnesses as soon as you can. It will also give your police claims solicitor the opportunity to review the full circumstances of what happened and advise you on the full range of legal remedies you could be entitled to.
Another key thing to note is that while there is no time limit in which a formal complaint about the police should be made, the sooner it is made the better. The police watchdog makes clear that after 12 months, you will have to explain the reason for delay – and there is no guarantee your police complaint will be investigated by the police force.
For a misfeasance, wrongful arrest or false imprisonment claim, you have 6 years to start a claim, but the sooner you start your claim the better. For early help and advice about making your no win no fee police mistreatment claim, speak to a solicitor for free on 0800 234 6438. If you prefer, you can request a call back using the online claim form to discuss the claims process.
A blind man won £3,500 in compensation from the police after he sued for false imprisonment. Shah Miah was traumatised after being arrested and held in custody at the police station for six hours and released without charge
It’s best to start personal injury claims as soon as possible while events are fresh in your mind and you can benefit from free legal advice early on.
To find out about the claims process, get in touch with specialist advisors on 0800 234 6438, or use the contact form and ask for a call back. You’ll be partnered with specialist injury lawyers for a free initial consultation. Solicitors are heavily regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – giving much needed peace of mind.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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