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Essex man arrested with faulty handcuffs resulting in the fire service having to set him free

In the very late hours of the 20th August 2018, Essex Police Officers were called to attend my client’s address following a disturbance. I refer to my client in this blog as Mr A as he does not wish to be named.

Following arrival of the said Police Officers, Mr A was arrested and subsequently escorted to Chelmsford Police Station. Unfortunately, when Mr A arrived at custody, it was realised by Custody Staff that the handcuffs that he was in were in fact stuck and unable to be opened. As the said handcuffs had become stuck, the only way to set Mr A free was with the assistance of the Essex Fire Service.

Due to the said faulty handcuffs being excruciatingly tight upon Mr A’s wrists from his initial arrest, the Fire Service’s attempts to set Mr A free resulted in him sustaining a laceration upon his wrist which subsequently scarred. It is worth mentioning at this point that Mr A received no further action in relation to the offence that he was originally arrested for due to their being insufficient evidence to prove the said offence.

Although the Fire Service were the ones who caused Mr A his said injury, they would need not have attended if the handcuffs used to arrest Mr A by the arresting Essex Police Officer in the first place were not faulty. It was on this basis that I presented a personal injury claim to Essex Police’s legal department.

In my view as Mr A’s Solicitor, it was clear that this incident was preventable as the arresting Essex Police Officer should have ensured that the said handcuffs were in proper working order before being used on duty that day. Following the case of Robinson v The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2014] EWCA Civ 15, all Police Forces owe a duty to not carelessly cause personal injury and in this case with Mr A; they unfortunately did so.

In response to Mr A’s claim, Essex Police denied liability. Once I made further legal representations to them and also threatened issuing Court proceedings, Essex Police’s legal department then engaged in settlement discussions and the matter was then later settled in the sum of £1,000.00.

At reading this figure of settlement, one may think that the settlement is low for a scarring injury. Thankfully, Mr A’s injury was not serious whereby his cut was not a long or deep one and the said scar was not clearly noticeable as it had healed particularly well. In this regard and in accordance with the Judicial College Guidelines used by the Courts in assessing personal injury claims, the top end of Mr A’s claim would have been around £1,000.00.

Due to my persistence and persuasiveness, I managed to achieve the highest value possible for Mr A plus hourly-rate legal costs.

Author: Matthew McConville