I have many misgivings regarding the police complaint system but one criticism that I could level on near enough every complaint I have handled is the deliberate restriction of time to appeal against a police force decision.
Let me expand.
On the basis that a police force has carried out a full investigation, they will forward their final report to the Complainant.
The Complainant then has (a relatively short) 28 days from the date of the letter received from the police to lodge an appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (‘IPCC’).
If the appeal is not lodged within that time period, the IPCC do not have to consider the appeal.
The IPCC say that they “may be able to extend this time period if you have very special circumstances and you can fully explain your reasons for asking for an extension”.
Note that the clock ticks from the date of the letter from the police.
One would assume that a letter would arrive within one or two days of the date of that letter.
With every police force I have dealt with however, it is invariably longer.
I am currently reviewing a case where the letter from Merseyside Police was dated 20th July and yet received at my office on 26th July.
This is, in my opinion, a deliberate tactic to reduce a Complainants “appeal time” and therefore reducing the chances of an appeal being lodged.
As appeals often affect the outcome of civil actions against the police, innocent victims of police misconduct are being denied their legal right to an investigation into their complaint, and may miss out on an apology and/or compensation where wrongdoing has been identified. This unfair practice must stop.
I read with interest about an 82 year man in West London who was tasered by the police.
A taser is the latest weapon in a police officer’s armoury. It is a stun-gun which when applied causes 50,000 volts of electricity to go through a victim’s body, side effects of which include temporary paralysis, nausea, amnesia, loss of bowel/bladder control, vomiting and in extreme cases, the heart can stop, occasionally resulting in death.
The police can use force (and therefore the taser) when affecting an arrest provided it is reasonable and proportionate.
It is in the public interest to establish whether the police have been given proper training and are applying their powers correctly. Can an 82 year old man be said to pose such a threat requiring the use of such excessive force?
I am currently pursuing a similar actions against the police claim for a 50 year old man. The police visited him late at night looking for his son. My client, a heavy set, bald, black man bears no resemblance to his 32 year old mixed race, curly haired son. The police, who had seen a picture and read a description of my client’s son, forced their way into my client’s home and indiscriminately tasered him in the back when he was retreating into his kitchen. At the time, he was entirely defenceless and posed no threat.
As well as the physical evidence in front of them, a simple ID check which they performed minutes later proved that my client was not the person they were looking for. Nevertheless, he was arrested for obstruction and assaulting a constable- this is being cited to justify their over zealous behaviour. I am now working with my client to pursue his claim against the police.
I consider that both cases raise serious questions regarding the deployment of taser guns in arrest circumstances.
The Guardian’s piece on football fans being abused by the police made for chilling reading.
The sad case of Tommy Meyers, an innocent fan who was attacked by a police dog, mirrors that of Mr. B, a client of mine.
He had been on an awayday to watch Everton play Stoke City with friends. He was transported with hundreds of other fans from the ground to Stoke-on-Trent train station. Upon arrival, he went to enter the station to travel home. As he did so, he was confronted by a British Transport Police officer who told him to disperse. Mr B repeated his appeal in a non confrontational manner to enter the station whereupon the officer unleashed his dog upon him so causing Mr B severe injuries.
Mr. B approached me as I am a specialist actions against the police solicitor. Following investigations I was convinced that he was, indeed, the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice and lodged a civil claim on his behalf.
Over 2 months later, Mr B was informed that he was to be prosecuted for using threatening, abusive or insulting words contrary to section 4 of the Public Order Act.
Following representations, those criminal proceedings were withdrawn.
The civil claim was vigorously defended. Relevant CCTV footage of the incident was mysteriously lost. Other non relevant CCTV footage and witness evidence was disclosed seeking to suggest that Mr B was a known football hooligan.
After a 23 day trial, the jury found that the dog had been negligently unleashed, that Mr B had been unlawfully arrested and then the subject of a malicious prosecution. He was awarded in excess of £93,000 in damages plus all his legal costs.
I am saddened that, despite this high profile case, it would appear that lessons have not been learned.
A recent Supreme Court ruling has confirmed that the police’s policy of keeping innocent people’s DNA after they have been investigated and cleared of an offence is unlawful.
The BBC reported that the UK Supreme Court found by a 5-2 majority that the police’s policy was incompatible with a 2008 European Court of Human Rights decision.
The fact that it has taken 3 years to follow on from our European neighbours is shameful. For several years now I have been advising innocent people that the only way to have their fingerprints etc destroyed is via the Association of Chief Police Officers exceptional guidelines route. Unfortunately, this was fraught with uncertainty as it was entirely discretionary with no right of appeal.
As the Supreme Court have now found those guidelines unlawful, which in my opinion is the right decision, innocent people who have been told in the past that their DNA will be kept now have a right to challenge the police’s stance.
I expect that actions against the police solicitors like me will be very busy in the coming months assisting people to have their DNA information removed from the database, and their right to privacy restored.
As this is my first post, I thought you should know a little about me. I’m a solicitor (lawyer) based in Liverpool. My main practice area is actions against the police work, although I also deal with personal injury cases as they often overlap.
I represent people from all walks of life, some of whom have had regular encounters with the Police, others only the once!
All my client’s have a story to tell and some of these stories will shock you!
In this website you will find information about what actions against the police are, why I chose to write about them, case reports, and commentary.
If you want to contact me or discuss the blog, please post a comment or contact me via the online form below or my firm’s website.
I hope you enjoy reading (and commenting) on the blog.