Head of the Actions Against the Police Department at Irvings Law, Mr Matthew McConville, has successfully represented a client (referred to as ‘the Claimant’ as he wishes to remain anonymous for the purposes of this blog) in a claim against Norfolk Constabulary for false imprisonment.
In August 2018, PC Barton and PC Chambers were on mobile patrol due to an earlier stabbing in the local area and the vehicle that the Claimant was driving was then stopped. When asked by PC Chambers to pull over, the Claimant did so without hesitation. When the Claimant pulled over, PC Chambers parked behind the vehicle that the Claimant was driving. PC Barton (in the passenger seat of the marked Police vehicle) then got out of the same and approached the driver’s side of the vehicle that the Claimant was driving. PC Barton then turned on her body worn camera to record events and it showed that the Claimant had turned off the vehicle that he was driving and the keys were not in the ignition.
PC Barton informed the Claimant that the vehicle that he was driving was shown as having no insurance. The Claimant confirmed that the vehicle does have insurance through his friend and he then is seen on the footage to then scroll through his phone to provide evidence of the same. Whilst doing this, PC Barton asked the Claimant for the location of his keys and the Claimant confirmed that they were in the central console. Then, without a valid reason, PC Barton asked the Claimant for the said keys to be handed over to her to which the Claimant challenged. PC Barton then escalated the matter by opening the driver door and grabbing hold of the Claimant before attempting to handcuff him. After this, the Claimant asked PC Barton if he was arrested and she initially said “yes” but when the Claimant repeats his question, PC Barton changed her mind and instead said that the Claimant was being detained for the purposes of a drugs search although no suspicion of drugs was ever mentioned before, during or even after this incident. The Claimant was then pulled out of the vehicle and then formally arrested by PC Barton’s colleague, PC Chambers on suspicion of two counts of obstructing a Police Constable and driving a vehicle without insurance. The Claimant was then escorted in handcuffs to Wymondham Police Station.
Without being interviewed, the Claimant was charged in relation to the offences that he was arrested for and when he was offered a caution, he refused and so the matter was to be dealt with at a Court hearing. At Court, the Claimant pleaded not guilty but before the next Court date came about, all charges against the Claimant were discontinued due to a lack of evidence.
After this, the Claimant then approached specialist Actions Against the Police Solicitor at Irvings Law, Mr Matthew McConville whom without hesitation offered the Claimant no win, no fee terms. Mr McConville then lodged a complaint to Norfolk Constabulary in light of the conduct of PC Barton and that of PC Chambers and a full investigation then took place.
Mr McConville complained on behalf of his client that he was unlawfully arrested, that excessive force was used upon him as well as him also being maliciously prosecuted. In response, the Claimant’s complaint was not upheld on the basis that Norfolk Constabulary tried to insinuate that the Claimant could have evaded if he wanted which put PC Barton and PC Chambers at risk and the Claimant was a point of interest due to his location and proximity to the stabbing incident where there was absolutely no evidential link of him being involved in the same.
Due to their failure to accept fault, Mr McConville had no other option but to advise the Claimant to lodge an appeal to the IOPC. Mr McConville appealed on the basis that it was Norfolk Constabulary whom were attempting to paint the Claimant in a difference light to what actually happened to justify their own unlawful actions and in doing do, used their own prejudicial and racial stereotypes to achieve that. Thankfully, the IOPC upheld the same as they were not satisfied that a proportionate investigation was undertaken by Norfolk Constabulary and were directed to re-investigate the Claimant’s complaint with reference to discrimination and drugs too.
Despite this, Norfolk Constabulary decided to maintain their position although they did concede that it would have been appropriate and beneficial for PC Barton to explain her actions as she only at this stage decided to hold her hands up to the same. Further, although pre-intention of arrest on discriminatory grounds was denied by Norfolk Constabulary learning was taken from this incident and refresher training given to PC Barton. As the complaint process had gone on long enough, rather than the Claimant appealing this further outcome, for the IOPC to then uphold and redirect another investigation by Norfolk Constabulary, the Claimant instead decided not to appeal but to then focus on his civil claim.
As such, Mr McConville presented a Letter of Claim to Norfolk Constabulary which they decided to not respond to in accordance with the rules. Mr McConville then instigated the issue of Court proceedings but before the same were fully lodged, the Claimant accepted an offer to settle his claim in the sum of £10,000.00 plus legal costs.