Claiming compensation from the police: Where do you stand?
We regularly receive enquiries from people asking whether compensation can be claimed from the police if they are injured while in custody. The short answer is, ‘yes’, if it can be shown that the police failed to act correctly.
Our team are experienced in claiming compensation from the police and dealing with police misconduct claims. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured while in custody, then we can help you seek justice and recover the compensation you deserve.
Police conduct is currently in the spotlight following a policy introduced by Scotland Yard which requires Met officers to ask themselves 44 questions before restraining a suspect. To assist them with this they have been provided with an ‘easy-to-read’ alphabet guide. A separate handcuffing guide has been implemented too, with officers now required to continuously check upon a suspect’s condition. If you suspect this guidance hasn’t been followed, then we may be able to assist you in claiming compensation from the police.
These procedural reforms come after an onslaught of complaints reporting disproportionate targeting towards ethnic minorities. In 2019/20, there was just a 13% conversion rate from stop searches to arrests, suggesting a high volume of potentially ill-advised restraints.
This has resulted in compensation claims being made against the police. In one such case the family of a man who died while under restraint received £450,000. An inquest found the restraint did not allow for adequate oxygen intake, with the manner, duration and monitoring of the restraint also criticised. The bulk of the settlement was apportioned to the surviving spouse, which replaced the income of the victim as well as funding childcare without the hassle and stress of applying to court. The barrister chambers which dealt with this claim is one that has been used by us at Slee Blackwell Solicitors.
In one of our own cases, a client had been taken into custody after being arrested to prevent a breach of the peace. The individual had taken a legal high which made him paranoid and scared. On arriving at the station he was agitated and insensitive to pain. The handcuffing had also caused his hands to bleed and bruise. He quickly became distressed, struggled to free himself and was banging his head on the floor. He was showing all but one symptom of ‘Excited Delirium’, which carries a risk of collapse or death. Police officers are specifically warned of the dangers of this condition in the National Policing Improvement Agency guidelines.
Our client should therefore have been treated as a medical emergency and taken to hospital for immediate treatment, but this didn’t happen. A nurse was eventually called but she failed to recommend emergency medical treatment. It was not until hours later that the police called an ambulance. Our client ultimately had to undergo surgery for the injuries to his wrists caused by the handcuffs.
It’s important not to delay in getting specialist legal advice on claiming compensation. If you are making a claim for either wrongful arrest or false imprisonment, you have six years from the date of the incident to bring a claim. For all other personal injury claims, there is a limitation of period of three years. However, it is advisable to act quickly, before memories fade and evidence is lost.
Compensation can be awarded for both physical and psychological injuries, as well as any financial losses you incur, such as lost earnings or the cost of medical treatment.
We can work on a No Win, No Fee basis, which means there is no need to worry about funding your legal costs.
If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of the police failing to act correctly and would like a free case assessment, you can contact our legal helpline.
Where serious injury has not occurred we would recommend that you have the matter investigated by the IOPC. You can find out how to make a complaint by following this link: https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/complaints-reviews-and-appeals/make-complaint
If once your complaint has been investigated you wish to pursue a compensation claim then you can send the report to us for assessment.