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MR C v Chief Constable of Kent Police

Demi Drury – Solicitor- Civil Action Against the Police

Background

On 9th April 2017 the Claimant returned to his home address in Margate to find police officers searching his property. The Claimant approached the officers and asked them what was going on to which an officer replied he was investigating a theft.

The Claimant identified himself as the occupant of the property and he was subsequently arrested but not advised why. The Claimant was detained at the property for around one hour and 30 minutes. The Claimant was then escorted to a nearby police station and detained for around 5 hours before being released with no further action. The Claimant was not interviewed whilst he was in custody.

Issues

Mr C contacted Higgs Newton Kenyon Solicitors who accepted instructions on a no-win no-fee basis. We highlighted the following issues;

Police have numerous powers to enter and search a property, section 18 specifically deals with search of premises after an arrest has been executed of a person who controls or occupies a property. Mr C was not under arrest when the police officer’s entered and began the search of the property this rendered the search unlawful.

Under Section 28 of PACE an individual who is under arrest must be advised why, as soon as practicable if they are not then the period between when they are arrested until when they are told why would be rendered unlawful imprisonment. Mr C was not told why he was under arrest until he attended the police station around 2 hours after his initial arrest. In our professional opinion this was not as soon as practicable which would render the 2 hours unlawful imprisonment.

In very brief terms, a police officer executing an arrest must have reasonable grounds to suspect the individual has committed an offence/committing an offence and secondly the officer must have reasonable grounds for deeming the arrest necessary.

In this particular case an allegation had been made against Mr C which in our professional opinion would satisfy the low threshold test of reasonable suspicion however the arresting officers rationale for executing the arrest was to;

  1. Continue the search
  2. Prevent further theft
  3. Prevent contact with a co-defendant.

In our professional opinion,we deemed these reasons would not suffice in Court given that when Mr C was released he was released without any bail conditions. Further the necessity to continue the search would not be a viable reason given this undermines the use of the search warrant procedure. It was further concerning that our client was not interviewed which raises questions as to why it was so necessary to arrest Mr C.

Demi initiated a complaint to the professional standards department for Kent Police. Kent Police admitted failings in that they had entered Mr C’s property incorrectly and management action was imposed on the officers who dealt with Mr C.

Demi initiated a civil claim against the Chief Constable of Kent Police for;

  1. False arrest/imprisonment
  2. Trespass to property/person
  3. Injury sustained.

Liability was admitted for the trespass to Mr C’s property however all other aspects to the claim were denied. We set out the Claimants case to the Defendant and before the issue of Court proceedings, the parties agreed to a settlement.

Professional Opinion

The police must abide by the law. Provisions are put in place to protect the publics human rights. The Police cannot look at matters in a retrospective light, if the power they are using at the time is incorrect they cannot in hindsight rely on a different power as it would be more suitable/lawful. The Defendants officers used the wrong power to enter the property and that is why they admitted liability.

Although the Defendant didn’t agree to the other aspects of the claim, the Claimant was still compensated.

This area of law is very complex and anyone who thinks they have been mistreated at the hands of the police should seek a professional opinion. Anyone wanting further advice should contact our civil liberties department on 0151 203 1104.

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