I acted for a motorist who took a stand against a police speed trap operation was awarded £6,000 compensation for his unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and police assault.
Paul Price, 55, was driving his van on Column Road, West Kirkby, Wirral when he was stopped by Merseyside Police traffic officers who had hidden behind a plain council van in which they had mounted a speed camera. Column Road had recently been changed from a 40mph road to a 30mph road, but the road signs to show this change had recently been removed. Mr. Price, who believed the old speed limit was still in force, was caught driving at 42mph. When stopped, the police officers attempted to issue him with a speeding ticket. Mr. Price was angry at what he considered an unfair trap and got in the council van saying that he was going to ‘make a stand’ against the police’s underhand tactics.
In response the officers repeatedly assaulted Mr. Price as they arrested him. The four officers dragged him from the council van, forced him to the ground and sprayed him directly in the eyes with CS gas.
Paul Price was taken to Birkenhead Police Station where he was told that he had been arrested not just for speeding but also for a s.5 Public Order Act offence (‘using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour’) and assaulting the four officers. He was examined by a police doctor who confirmed that he had sustained multiple injuries to the face, ribs, chest, shoulders, knees and wrists. He was detained for over 10 hours before being released.
Mr. Price was acquitted of all charges at his trial in Birkenhead Magistrates Court. The Magistrates dismissed the speeding charge on the basis that the prosecution failed to show that Column Road was a restricted road, where a 30mph speed limit should be expected. They did not agree that Mr. Price was guilty of the Public Order Act offence and were critical of the police’s handling of the arrest and detention.
Mr. Price instructed me to pursue an actions against the police compensation claim. Following an admission of unlawful arrest and assault Merseyside Police settled his claim for £6,000 plus legal costs.
We can all sympathise with Paul Price’s situation. He was angry at what he considered a waste of taxpayer’s money and wanted to take a stand. What he did not bargain for was an unlawful arrest and vicious assault by police officers who are expected to uphold the law, not break it.