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Compensation Claims Against the Police

In a recent report by the BBC it has been reported that the police have paid out over £9 million over the last 6 years to settle compensation claims made against them.

The figures, acquired under the freedom of information act, show that the amount paid out by the police to settle compensation claims had stayed consistently between £1 and £2 million over the last 6 years.

One well publicized example of a typical police claim is the one made by Barrister Colin Challenger. In 2009 Mr Challenger was wrongfully arrested outside the high court as police thought he was a protester who was breaking the law. As a result of his arrest he had his insulin taken from him and fell into a diabetic coma whilst in police custody.

After a year and a half Mr Challenger has finally cleared his name and received a public apology from the relevant police force. The most worrying aspect of the compensation claim made by Mr Challenger is how difficult he found the claims procedure. Mr Challenger has an in-depth understanding of the way the law works and has the contacts and finances to make a very strong case. He says that his experience of the police claims process made it difficult, even for him, to make a complaint and claim.

Mr Challenger explained in an interview with the BBC that “[a]n ordinary man in the street would find it very, very, difficult indeed.”

These comments by such a highly qualified legal professional suggest that there is likely to be many more complaints and claims made against the police than these recent figures suggest. If it takes all the patience, experience and resources of a barrister with 40 years experience to make a claim, it’s likely that the vast majority of genuine claimants will simply give up.

Another very worrying statistic is the time it takes the average claimant to receive compensation for a claim against the police. Mr Challenger, with his resources and experience, didn’t receive an apology for over a year and a half!

Though these recent figures have prompted many to call for a reform of the police complaints procedure, there has, so far, been very little indication that it will happen any time soon.