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Police misconduct - are the police really becoming more transparent?

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Was my arrest unlawful?

On 12th March 2015, Theresa May announced proposed radical changes to the policing system, through the introduction of The Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (2015 amendments). The focus of the proposals suggested that more transparency and accountability were required.

Of particular note were the introduction of public hearings regarding police misconduct hearing and additionally, the introduction of Police Crime Commissioners. For many, particularly those involved in taking action against the police, this was a positive step towards achieving accountability. However, to what extent has it worked?

Case example

I recently attended a gross misconduct hearing at North Wales Police Headquarters, Colwyn Bay. This involved a serious allegation made by my client that his collar bone had been broken as a result of unlawful force being used against him. You would think that, given the recommendations of Theresa May in 2015, this is precisely the type of case that North Wales Police should be referring themselves to their professional standards department.

Unfortunately not.

My client lodged a complaint to the professional standards department and the complaint was allocated to an officer and investigated. The professional standards department upheld the complaint and agreed that the use of a “full nelson” was an unapproved technique and as such, the officer should face a gross misconduct hearing.

What then happens is that the local officers refer his decision to the appropriate authority, who supervise and regulate lower ranked officers. Surprisingly, the appropriate authority disagreed with their own officer and suggested that the conduct was not so serious to warrant a gross misconduct hearing.

I lodged an appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who agreed with me and the local officer. It was then recommended by the IPCC that a gross misconduct hearing should follow.

The appropriate authority of North Wales Police rejected the IPCC’s recommendations.

As a result of this, I wrote to the IPCC and requested that they utilise the powers consigned to them, to force North Wales Police to undertake a gross misconduct hearing. The IPCC agreed with my response and therefore, forced North Wales Police to act as I had suggested.

The above case is still ongoing.

Thoughts

From my experience, the police are still very much reluctant and opposed to being as transparent as the latest guidance requires. The example referred to above shows a complete resistance by the appropriate authority to allow an independent panel determine the future of one of their officers.

It was only as a result of my client seeking representation that the regulations were adhered to.

It is a difficult task to take on the police. You require robust representation.

Whilst the regulations mentioned above are certainly a step in the right direction and certainly, a good introduction into the area of police misconduct, there is a long way to go. The police are a public body that ought to be accountable to the public.

I have pursued many complaints against the police as well as claims for compensation. I have acted for clients across the country, including Liverpool, Manchester, North and South Wales, Yorkshire, Birmingham, London and the South of England. I have numerous years of experience and can assist you if you are requiring advice in relation to a number of police matters, including;

  • Unlawful arrest/false imprisonment
  • Assault
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Misfeasance in public office
  • Trespass to land
  • Human rights breaches

I have a particular interest in acting for those who are the most vulnerable in our society and therefore, more exposed to police misconduct.

I am part of the Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG), a national group for Claimant Police Action Lawyers. I pursue cases by way of legal aid. If you do not qualify for legal aid then I am able to offer competitive rates.

Some of my notable cases include:

  • Unlawful arrest/false imprisonment, assault, disability discrimination and breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998 (Unlawful strip search) against the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (2017). 
  • Unlawful Arrest/false imprisonment and misfeasance in public office against the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (2016).
  • Unlawful arrest/false imprisonment against the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (2016). .
  • Unlawful arrest/false imprisonment and misfeasance in public office against the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (2015).
  • Unlawful arrest/false imprisonment, trespass to person and malicious prosecution against the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (2014). 

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