What is Wrongful Arrest?
There are three reasons a police officer may lawfully conduct an arrest; a) if a person is wanted on a warrant, b) if the officer has reason to believe that the person has been involved in a crime, or c) if the officer has reasonable belief that the person may be preparing to commit an offence, therefore making their arrest necessary.
Whilst the law distinguishes between arrestable and non-arrestable offences, a person can still be arrested for a non-arrestable offence if the police have good reason to do so, such as if they believe the person suspected of committing a crime is providing them with false information.
When an arrest is made, there are certain procedures that need to be followed. If you have been arrested, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these procedures so that you can be aware if they are not followed, as if they aren’t, you may be able to make a wrongful arrest claim.
What are my rights if I’m arrested?
If you have been arrested, you are entitled to know the reason for your detainment, which should be provided by the police officers handling your arrest.
Whilst this doesn’t have to be done immediately, police officers are required to provide you with a reason for your detainment as soon as they reasonably can, otherwise your arrest could be deemed unlawful.
If you are arrested, the police must also:
- Identify themselves as police officers
- Inform you of your arrest, and tell you the crime you are accused of committing
- Explain their reasons for arresting you, and why your arrest is necessary
- Explain the terms of your arrest (i.e. that you are being detained and cannot leave)
In addition, the following fundamental human rights will also apply:
- The right to be treated humanely
- The right to speak with the custody officer, who is responsible for your welfare whilst detained
- The right to see a written notice which outlines your rights whilst in custody, such as the food and comfort breaks you are entitled to
- The right to notify a family member or friend of the arrest (although you may not be permitted to make the phone call yourself)
- The right to seek reliable legal advice and representation, and to consult with your solicitor in private
- The right to request medical help if you are ill
- The right to an interpreter if you don’t speak or understand English, or if you’re deaf or have other hearing difficulties
How long can I be detained for after arrest?
If you are arrested, the police are only legally allowed to detain you for a maximum of 24 hours. This limit is extended to 36 hours if you are suspected to have committed a more serious arrestable offence.
For this reason, it’s vital that you ensure the time of arrest is written correctly on your custody record.
When does a legal arrest become unlawful?
An arrest that has been conducted lawfully may become unlawful when:
- You are being kept under arrest when there is no longer a valid reason to be
- You aren’t charged with an offence, even though there may be enough evidence against you to do so
- The officers handling your arrest don’t adhere to the rules and procedures outlined in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act
I’m a victim of wrongful arrest. Can I sue the police?
If you believe you may have been subject to an arrest that was unlawfully conducted, such as if you were detained longer than necessary, if you were denied your basic rights whilst in custody, or if you were treated poorly by the authorities handling your arrest, you may be able to make a claim against the police.
Claims against the police may be made for:
- Wrongful arrest
- False imprisonment
- Malicious prosecution
- Accidental disclosure of personal information
It’s important to note that there is a period of expiry on claims brought against the authorities. You will need to begin the claims process within 12 months of the event if you wish to make a claim for a breach of your human rights. This is extended to three years for negligence claims, assault claims and injury claims (including for psychological injuries), whilst claims of false imprisonment, misfeasance or trespass will need to be brought about within six years of the event.
It’s advisable to pursue your claim as early as possible, as your memory and any evidence will still be fresh.
How can I make a wrongful arrest claim?
Enlisting the help of a reliable legal professional should be your first port of call, as a solicitor will be able to evaluate your case and evidence and determine how likely it is that your claim is successful.
At DRN, we recognise that pursuing claims of this nature can be both mentally and emotionally taxing, particularly if you have been subject to violence or abuse at the hands of the police.
Our expert team of solicitors have years of experience in dealing with claims of this nature, and promise to do so with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism.
To make a start on your claim against the police today, please contact our offices on 01282 433241, and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.