False Imprisonment (also known as wrongful/unlawful/false arrest) is when your freedom is limited without ‘lawful cause’. It is for the Police to justify that they had ‘reasonable suspicion’ and ‘necessity’ to limit your freedom; an unsuccessful charge does not automatically mean that you will be successful in a False Imprisonment claim against the Police. Instead, the test is whether the Police reasonably suspected you and if so, was it your freedom limited necessary in the circumstances. If the Police fail on either one of these, your claim for False Imprisonment would be successful but such a claim needs to be brought within six years of your freedom being limited. Even if you arrest was lawful, the Police must follow certain rules in custody because if they do not, it may sometimes mean that your imprisonment then becomes unlawful such as not reviewing your detention when required or detaining you for longer than necessary.


If there was no reasonable suspicion or necessity to limit your freedom, any application of force (such as handcuffing for example) would also be unlawful. If the Police had reasonable suspicion or necessity to limit your freedom, they are allowed by law to use ‘no more than reasonable and necessary force’ and if considered ‘excessive in the circumstances’, you will be successful in an Assault claim against the Police if such a claim is brought within three years of you sustaining injury. However, if you were later convicted of an offence arising from when such force was used upon you, the threshold required to win increases to whether the force used was ‘grossly disproportionate’ or not.

Malicious Prosecution:

If a charge against you is unsuccessful, you may be able to claim for a Malicious Prosecution but in order to do so, you must be able to show that your charge lacked probable cause and the Police were motivated by malice which is often very difficult to evidence. However, a successful False Imprisonment and/or Assault claim where such a prosecution resulted will help in this respect. Any claim brought in this respect must be so done within six years of your prosecution ending in your favour.

Abuse of Power

This is usually referred to as ‘Misfeasance in Public Office’ and in order to succeed with a claim of this type, you must be able to show that the Police acted in ‘bad faith’ towards you knowing that their act would probably cause the damage you have suffered. ‘Bad faith’ needs to be more than a simple mistake though and if you can show it was more than this, you have six years from the date of damage ending to bring such a claim.

Breach of Human Rights

Human Rights are set out clearly in UK law but there are incidences when the Police breach these. For example, you have the protection from inhumane or degrading treatment and your privacy. If there has been custody malpractice such as failure to provide prescribed medication whilst detained, this could give rise to a Human Rights claim as could an unlawful strip search and trespass to property whilst you are in custody too. In addition to this, if you were the victim of a sexual assault, there is a positive duty imposed on the Police to investigate such a crime properly without committing ‘serious or egregious errors’ and if they do so, you could bring such a Human Rights Claim. In bringing a claim of this nature, you must do so within one year of the alleged Human Rights Breach by the Police.