Civil Actions against Police

We are an approved specialist provider in police claims and hold a Legal Aid Franchise to provide advice. This category is fairly wide ranging and not only includes claims and complaints against the Police but also claims against other public authorities including the Crown Prosecution Service, the Prison Service (The Home Office), the Magistrates’ Court Service, the Probation Service and private security firms.

Additional information

  1. Assault
  2. False Imprisonment
  3. Malicious Prosecution
  4. Other areas
  5. Alternative to Civil Claims for Damages
  6. Funding
  7. Case studies

1. Assault

To succeed in a claim for assault it will be necessary for you to prove that the police, in detaining you, used an unreasonable level of force. The police are entitled by law to use a reasonable degree of force appropriate to the circumstances they are in. They are not entitled to use excessive force and if they do so they are open to be criticised that they have assaulted you. An Assault can also include being bitten by police dog. Each case must be looked at on its individual basis to assess whether the use of force was appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances. We can provide that assessment for you.

2. False Imprisonment

To establish a claim for False Imprisonment it will be necessary to prove that the police had no reasonable information to suspect you of having committed an offence and to detain you in relation to that offence. It is not for the police to decide whether you are guilty or not. It is for them to decide whether there is a criminal case that should be put before the court to decide whether you are guilty or not.

If there was no reasonable information then the arrest can be challenged as unlawful and if successfully challenged you will be awarded damages based on the time spent in custody i.e. from the point of arrest to the point of release.

It does not follow automatically that if you are found not guilty at trial or a case against you is dropped that you will have a claim for false imprisonment or indeed malicious prosecution.

3. Malicious Prosecution

In order to succeed in your claim for malicious prosecution, it is necessary for you to establish a number of factors. Most notably, you must establish that the police had no reasonable evidence to suspect you of the offence with which you were charged and prosecuted and further that the police’s primary motive in pursuing the prosecution against you was something other than the interests of justice. In short, you must prove the police had a wrongful or malicious motive in prosecuting you. It is also critical that the prosecution had a favourable termination for you and you were not convicted of a criminal offence.

4. How to pursue a claim for damages

A civil claim for damages against a police force or other public authority will be brought in either the High Court or the County Court. If the case does not settle before a trial then the case will be heard before a judge (or in the case of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution a judge and jury) to determine whether the police are liable to you for damages.

In order to succeed in a civil claim and be awarded damages for the assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, it will be necessary for you to prove the claims on the balance of probabilities against the officers of the police i.e. is it more likely than not.

Should you succeed in your assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution claims, then you would be entitled to an award of damages to compensate for your injuries and time detained.

Assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution claims are not limited to merely the police. It is entirely possible to pursue such claims against the other public authorities (and indeed private individuals) should it be established that they, rather than the police, were the cause of your complaint.

4. Other Claims

We can also assist in claims against the police for trespass, damage caused to goods, the confiscation of property including motor vehicles, negligence claims, deaths in custody or other misconduct issues in a public office. Each type of claim may be successfully concluded.

5. Complaints

These complaints will be processed by the Complaints Department of the Police Force in question. In the event that a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint, there is an entitlement to appeal the complaint decision to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

If the Independent Police Complaints Commission upholds your complaint it can recommend that the police officers involved face disciplinary charges in a hearing before the Chief Constable of the force. This is different to the civil claims for damages where it is the police force itself that is liable and has to pay damages in a successful claim.

6. Funding

Legal aid is available to pursue complaints and claims against the police and other public authorities for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution along with other possible claims for damages. Subject to financial qualification, initial advice is provided free of charge under the Legal Services Legal Help Scheme. We are a specialist provider of such advice under that scheme.

If court proceedings are required to issue your claim, it will be necessary to obtain a public funding certificate. To obtain a funding certificate for court proceedings there is a two fold test. The first part is an income based test to see whether your income qualifies you for funding. The second part of the test is a merit test to assess whether your claim is strong enough to warrant use of the public fund. It is for us as a firm to advise the Legal Services Commission on this element.

Pursuing these difficult cases is always preferable with the benefit of Legal Aid to cover your costs liability however should you not qualify for Legal Aid whether financially or because the Legal Services Commission are not persuaded of the merits of your claim then we will consider other funding options with you including “No win no fee” agreements.

7. Case Studies

Mr S was awarded £20,000 after being punched in the face by a police officer and then subsequently arrested and prosecuted on false allegations that he had assaulted the said police officer.  The prosecution failed at trial when Mr S was found not guilty of all charges.

Mr B was awarded £22,000 after being manhandled by a serving police officer before being arrested and prosecuted for alleged offences against that officer.  The prosecution proceeded to the day of the trial before being dropped and our client acquitted.

Fees (Police Claims)

Upon your contacting our offices we will be happy to discuss which funding options outlined above are available to you when making a complaint or claim against the police.  You will not be charged for this funding assessment and after talking to us you are under no obligation to engage our services.


Ring freephone 0800 975 5454 or landline 0161 445 3678. Ask to speak to Mark Lees for further advice.

736-740 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury
Manchester M20 2DW

Tel: 0800 975 5454
Tel: 0161 445 3678
Fax: 0161 445 3657

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