This is a case study of a successful police negligence claim we recently made on behalf of a client we shall refer to as J.
J had been approached by the police to bring charges against a man after suffering sexual abuse at his hands during her youth. She clearly expressed that, to her knowledge, charges had already been brought against those identified in the abuse, whilst also outlining that she feared undergoing a formal interview would have detrimental effects on her mental health.
J made repeated requests to the police officer dealing with the matter to check existing police records for the previous charges, but the police officer assured J that the matter had not already been dealt with or concluded.
As a result of the police officer’s request, J felt pressured into attending an interview. This process was repeated again a few days later. The interviews involved having to describe and recall her experiences of sexual abuse in detail which was extremely distressing and impacted her mental health. Due to the nature of the police’s approach, J believed that there was a realistic prospect of a conviction, further strengthened by the police officer’s numerous assurances of the same. This investigation was then passed from one police officer to another.
J contacted the new police officer overseeing the investigation to inform them of the mental health struggles she had been experiencing as a result of the two interviews. This was partly due to the feeling of devastation at finding out the accused had not been charged in the past as previously thought.
Unfortunately, J was notified by the new police officer that she had retrieved the case file and realised that the accused had already been previously charged, causing unnecessary trauma to J through the two interviews recently held. J asked for the decision to be reviewed but there was no change. Furthermore, J had discovered that her personal property had been left insecure on top of a storage cupboard and police evidence had been neither bagged properly nor marked appropriately.
Lawyer Elizabeth Duncan considered matters and agreed to deal with J’s police negligence claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.
A formal letter of claim was sent to the police contending that they were negligent in failing to follow procedure by not undertaking the appropriate investigations in respect of whether the suspect had previously been charged at the outset. J was also stressed by the disregard given to her sensitive and personal information which was stored inappropriately, amounting to a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The police admitted liability.
Whilst medical evidence from a Clinical Psychologist was obtained to examine the nature and extent of J’s psychological symptoms. Elizabeth also arranged for J to meet a barrister with expertise in this field so that she could feel confident about the processes of the claim.
To avoid court, an out of court settlement of J’s claim was reached.
If you require guidance on making a police negligence claim then contact our free legal helpline.