To most people, False Imprisonment conjures images of famous miscarriages of justice where innocent people have spent years in jail. But these cases are the extreme end of the spectrum and in reality actions from Unlawful detention more commonly arise from police arrest – and increasingly against other bodies acting with police-like powers.
Although most claims for a False Imprisonment charge arise from interactions with police, there are many other circumstances where Unlawful Imprisonment may be an issue:
- Imprisonment in Hospitals – including Mental Health Hospitals.
- In cases of Domestic Violence and Coercion.
- Inappropriate Behaviour from private security guards, such as store detectives.
- In Prison.
We can act for people who feel they have been a victim of Unlawful arrest or detention and help them claim compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment.
You must be able to prove that you were detained. This means physically unable to leave a place or felt you were unable to leave. You do not have to be handcuffed, locked up in a Police cell or anywhere else to be detained and it could be on the street or in your own home. A False Imprisonment case could also arise from an incident in a shop or place of business.
Importantly once it has been proved that you were detained, the burden then lies on the Police (or whoever else detained you) to prove that there was a lawful reason for doing so.
Sometimes people are detained without being arrested for instance if they are ‘Sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act or a court orders their detention for contempt of court or non-payment of a fine.
However, the most common circumstances of detention involve the Police and arise from an Unlawful arrest. Unlawful Arrest, also known as False Arrest or Wrongful Arrest, can arise either when an arrest warrant is wrongly issued – possibly on mistaken information – or it can even arise from an incident such as being stopped on the street.
A Wrongful Arrest and detention might arise:
- As a result of a stop and search.
- When taken for questioning.
- In prison, whether that is on remand or following trial.
Even a brief detention could justify a claim but the length of any Unlawful detention will influence the level of any compensation awarded following a successful claim.
The Police must obey rules for an arrest to be lawful. The arresting officer has to have reasonable grounds to believe that you are actually committing, have committed or are about to commit an offence.
The arrest must also fulfil some or all of what is known as the ‘necessity criteria’. Failing to properly inform you of your Rights promptly can also affect whether a False Arrest was made.
If you are taken to a Police station then the grounds for arrest should be reviewed by the custody officer and he or she will consider whether there is sufficient evidence for a charge to be made against you. If there is not sufficient evidence at that time, then detention should only be authorised if it is needed to gather evidence about a Crime or to protect evidence. The other reason for detention will be to hold for questioning.
If detention is authorised it should amount to no more than 24 hours unless a senior Police officer extends the period for up to 36 hours on the basis that it is a serious offence, for further questioning or the need to gather evidence. With the permission of a magistrate then detention can be permitted for up to 96 hours from arrest. In terrorism cases, detention can be for up to 28 days. The Police must be able to show they had lawful justification for every minute of your detention.
If you think you have been detained when you shouldn’t have been then contact us today.