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Along with claims against the Police, Irvings Law also represents clients who have suffered a loss from errors by other public authorities. Recently, I settled a case against the National Probation Service for a Cheshire man called Mr Mark Daniels from Runcorn following an administrative error which resulted in Mr Daniels spending over fifteen hours in a police cell through no fault of his own. The circumstances of the same are as follows:

The Incident

On the 19th October 2018, Mr Daniels attended Widnes Police Station in order to provide a voluntary interview in regards to allegations that had been made against him. During the said interview, Mr Daniels admitted the said allegations. As a result, Mr Daniels was later charged and thereafter appeared before North Cheshire Magistrates Court on the 28rd November 2018 where he formally pleaded guilty to the charge against him. Mr Daniels received a sentence that included unpaid work.

On the 7th December 2018 and the 11th December 2018, Mr Daniels did not attend to complete his required unpaid work hours because he was not well. Mr Daniels submitted his self-certification to his Probation Officer at the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) but despite this, paperwork was submitted to the Court indicating that he had breached the conditions of his sentence that had been imposed upon him.

Understandably, Mr Daniels raised concern about this and on the 31st December 2018, he was informed by his Probation Officer that the said breach proceedings had been withdrawn. To evidence this and on the 4th January 2018 at 08:25hrs, Mr Daniels sent a text message to his Probation Officer which stated as follows:- ‘Hello, I’m not on CS today because everyone in my house has got the flu, and I’m not feeling too good, I have a probation appointment Monday, and I’m supposed to be in Court Tuesday [8th January 2019], do I still have to appear or am I definitely not to appear because I don’t want to not go then a warrant be issued for my arrest. Thanks’.

At 09:30hrs on the same day, the Probation Officer responded to Mr Daniels by text message and said as follows:- ‘You do not need to appear, however you will need some medical evidence for CS today. Thanks’.

Mr Daniels then heard nothing further from his Probation Officer. Due to this and so as to be sure that the Court listing had been removed, Mr Daniels emailed the North Cheshire Magistrates Court on the 8th January 2019 (the day of his [withdrawn] listed hearing) and stated as follows:- ‘Hello, Just an enquiry to whether I’m supposed to be in Court today (08/01/2019). It’s Mark Daniels for breach proceedings. I was told that it had been withdrawn but no official confirmation was received. I haven’t appeared before the Court but was wondering whether I was to appear before the Court today. Can I be notified immediately whether I’m of supposed to of appeared. Thanks’.

Following receipt of this email, a Court Clerk telephoned Mr Daniels to confirm that a Court Warrant had been issued for his arrest as he had failed to attend the said hearing despite him being told by his Probation Officer that he did not need to attend the same. As a result, Mr Daniels called Cheshire Constabulary to confirm where he was and that there was a Court Warrant that had been issued for his arrest. At 19:02hrs, Mr Daniels was then arrested at his mother’s house and then escorted to Runcorn Police Station. Mr Daniels was kept in custody overnight until he was transported to North Cheshire Magistrates Court at 07:53hrs (which would now be the 9th January 2019).

Upon attending Court, Mr Daniels consulted with his Criminal Defence Solicitor and explained the above. Mr Daniels’ Solicitor then discussed the matter with a representative of the CRC. During the said discussion, it was confirmed to Mr Daniels’ Solicitor that there has been an ‘administrative error’ as the ‘breach proceedings have been withdrawn but this had not been relayed to the Court’. Once the position was fully clarified, Mr Daniels was then released after being detained for approximately 15 hours in total.

Action Taken

Upon receipt of instructions and after some initial evidence gathering was completed, I sent a Letter of Claim to the CRC on behalf of Mr Daniels. Sometime later, the Government Legal Department (GLD) responded to the same. It transpired that the CRC had sent an email to the National Probation Service’s representative at the Court to notify that Mr Daniels’ hearing was no longer needed. However, it is apparent that this individual did not then communicate the same with the Court’s Listing team which then resulted in the said Hearing going ahead and then a Warrant being issued against Mr Daniels due to his non-attendance. Thus, the failing which caused the Mr Daniels’ false imprisonment stood with the National Probation Service.

In response to the claim and on the 5th August 2019, the GLD put forward a derogatory offer of £125.00 in satisfaction of Mr Daniels’ claim in full inclusive of legal costs. This offer was rejected without hesitation by Mr Daniels and a counter offer was submitted to the GLD for consideration. On the 9th September 2019, the GLD put forward a revised offer of £3,000.00 (plus legal costs) and following further settlement discussions, the GLD accepted Mr Daniels’ offer to settle at £3,750.00 on the same day.

Author: Matthew McConville