False imprisonment - wrongful arrest claims

A compensation claim for false imprisonment or wrongful arrest can occur if you are detained unlawfully by the police or another public authority.

Our solicitors offer specialist advice and assistance on claims for false imprisonment. If you believe you may have been falsely imprisoned call our legal advisers on 0175 321 5096 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.

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False imprisonment by the police

In law, the police could ‘falsely imprison’ you by merely stopping you on the street without lawful excuse e.g. stop and search.

The police have powers of arrest which allow them to detain a person lawfully in certain conditions. Arrest is a power of last resort and the police should consider whether there is a need to do this rather than consider their own convenience. In such cases it could be wrongful.

In some cases, you might have been arrested and held in the police station for several hours. Even if the police are investigating a criminal offence, if they do not have a lawful excuse then this could amount to false imprisonment.

Alternatively, if it could be shown that you were held for longer than required or that other alternatives had not been considered; then a claim or complaint may be possible.

Other situations where false imprisonment may have occurred include occasions where the police may have stopped you and required you to remain in one place – interfering with your freedom of movement – often referred to as ‘kettling’.

Sometimes, people refer to false imprisonment as wrongful arrest or unlawful arrest, however, these are simply other more common terms for situations leading to false imprisonment. Compensation can be claimed.

False imprisonment by a local authority

If you have been detained by a local authority or an organisation operated and funded by a local authority such a mental health unit but your mental capacity was never in question then you may have been unlawfully detained by the authority. A compensation claim for false imprisonment may be possible.

False imprisonment by the courts/private security companies at court

If a judge orders your release from court (i.e. following an acquittal or successful bail application) but your release is delayed by a private security company then it may be possible to bring a compensation claim against the private security company.  

These companies are contracted by the government to handle security arrangements at court and to transport individuals in custody to and from court for hearings. 

It appears that some private security companies have adopted a process whereby they contact the Prison Service, after the court has ordered a person’s release, in order to check that the person can be released. This is despite the fact that they should already be aware (from the moment that they collect the person from prison and receive his or her paperwork earlier in the day) as to whether or not there are any other orders/warrants requiring that person’s detention to continue.  In some cases, individuals may be detained unlawfully for a period of several hours following the court’s order for their release and may, therefore, be entitled to damages.

Once the court has ordered a person’s release (and if they are not to be legitimately detained in relation to another matter) then that person should be released immediately. If not, then a compensation claim for false imprisonment may be possible. 

Alternatively, if a mistake or failing by the court leads to you being detained for longer than you should or you otherwise suffer loss as a result, then a compensation claim may also be possible in those circumstances.

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