Claims against the Police are brought on the basis of the law of tort which deals specifically with civil wrongs. In Police claims, Tort law is used in order to put you back in the position that you were before the said civil wrong happened. This is the best that civil law can do in order to ‘try and put right’ Police misconduct as no one can undo what has already been done.
The main awards applicable to you in a successful Police claim include:
- Police liability finding
- Financial compensation
- Legal costs.
A Police liability finding (either by admission by the Police or finding by the Court) means that you have won you case. The usual award to follow a Police liability finding is financial compensation and legal costs. By agreeing (or imposing by the Court) financial compensation, the Police acknowledge the harm they have caused you as a result of their wrongdoing. In turn, legal costs (most but sometimes not all) follow the payment of financial compensation.
As well as the above, other awards can be agreed with the Police which the Court cannot impose such as:
- A written apology,
- Agreed Police training,
- The deletion of records from national police systems, or
- An amendment of local police databases to show that the arrest was subject to successful litigation.
For many, a written apology is worth more than financial compensation and legal costs. Although ‘manners cost nothing’, it is rare that the Police agree to provide a written apology. Many also would like to know that ‘the same thing does not happen again to anyone else’ so a Police training programme could be agreed although, like above with an apology, it is rare that the Police agree to the same.
When a person is arrested/detained, their records (such as DNA, fingerprints, custody photograph, personal details and information about the said arrest/detention) are added to the Police National Computer, the National Fingerprint Database, the National DNA Database and the local police databases and kept. For many, having records deleted from the same is an effective award particularly when the same have been taken arising from a Police liability finding. Local police databases are completely separate from the national police computers so having an entry added to show that the arrest/detention was subject to successful litigation is also an effective award for many of my clients.
Author: Matthew McConville