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West Mercia Police Admit to ‘Inhuman and Degrading Treatment’ Of Pensioners and Son

Force Admits Liability For Unlawful Actions Of Officers


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A police force has admitted that its officers assaulted a family after unlawfully entering their home following reports of a neighbour dispute.

Three officers, two carrying firearms, called at the home of Brian and Ghislaine Arundale, then aged 82 and 63, and their son Ralph, then aged 33, in July 2014 after the family reported receiving threats from a neighbour. 

Officers told the family that they had come to seize shotguns legally owned by Brian.  Three days beforehand Brian had called the police after a neighbour threatened to give Ghislaine “a good pasting”.

However, shortly after police entered the family home, Ghislaine and Ralph were arrested. Following the incident the family, who were living in Coreley, near Ludlow, Shropshire, instructed specialist civil liberties lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the conduct of the police officers. 

West Mercia Police has now agreed to pay substantial damages to the family and has admitted that its officers:

  • Assaulted Brian, Ghislaine and Ralph  before unlawfully arresting and falsely imprisoning Ghislaine and Ralph
  • Treated the family in a way that was inhumane and degrading, and therefore in breach of their human rights
  • Violated the family’s right to privacy, also in breach of their human rights
  • Trespassed on the family’s property

West Mercia Police accepted that because there was no imminent risk of a breach of the peace, the officers had no right to be on the Arundales' property, meaning the force officers used against the family was unlawful, as were the arrests of Ghislaine and Ralph.  

Expert Opinion
This is a truly shocking case of police officers acting well beyond their powers and assaulting a family in their own home.

“Police officers should never try to seize property unless they are crystal clear that they are acting lawfully. The officers in this case seem to have thought they were dealing with a gang of dangerous criminals, rather than two pensioners and their son who had reported being harassed by their neighbours.

“Although the police have admitted legal liability they have notably failed to apologise for assaulting and falsely imprisoning Ghislaine and Ralph, or for trespassing in their home and breaching the Human Rights Act. Instead the police have only given my clients a bland apology for the ‘the quality of service’ they received.

“If West Mercia Police is to retain the trust of the public it serves then it must issue a full and unconditional apology without delay.”
Gus Silverman, Associate Solicitor

Ghislaine, a charity shop volunteer and former neighbourhood watch coordinator, said “From the moment the police came into our home I was uneasy and felt intimidated by them.

“The behaviour of the police on that night was appalling. We invited them in and did everything they wanted but they were just so aggressive.  It’s a terrible thing to be made to feel unsafe in your own home, particularly by the police.
“Every police officer we dealt with at the police station and later at the hospital was very nice to us and seemed really concerned by our injuries.  I just don’t know what was wrong with the three officers who came to our home and I can’t understand why they’re still in uniform to be honest. 

“We are obviously relieved that the force has finally admitted liability, but at the same time disappointed that so far they’ve only given us a mealy mouthed apology about the ‘the quality of service’ we received.”

Brian, a retired quantity surveyor, said: “To see your wife and son handcuffed and taken away in a police van like criminals was awful.  I had always thought that we could rely on the police to protect us, so being treated this way by serving police officers really makes you lose faith in the whole system.”

Ralph, a former volunteer with the National Trust, said: “The whole thing was made ten times worse when West Mercia decided that its officers weren’t guilty of misconduct. At the misconduct meeting the officers weren’t asked any of the questions we provided and the police ignored audio recording which clearly undermined their accounts.  It just felt like a whitewash.”


West Mercia Police later claimed to believe that there would be a breach of the peace if the officers did not take Brian’s shotguns away, although an official log from the on duty inspector said there was ‘little justification’ in removing the guns that night.

The Arundales agreed to let the police take the shotguns, and Brian went upstairs with an officer to get them from a locked cabinet.  Ghislaine heard Brian cry out and started to climb the stairs to see if her elderly husband, who had recently dislocated his shoulder, was alright. 

The family complained that at this point Ghislaine was pushed down the stairs by a police officer before being pinned to the ground and then either punched or kneed in the back.  They alleged that when Ralph tried to help his mum officers put him in cuffs before punching him twice in the head.  They also complained that one officer pulled out his pistol and threatened to shoot the family dog and shortly afterwards Brian was punched in the shoulder by an officer.

After being pinned to the ground Ghislaine was cuffed and immediately lost the feeling in her left wrist.  She asked the officers to loosen the cuffs but she says they refused.  She has since been diagnosed with permanent nerve damage.

Ghislaine and Ralph were then unlawfully arrested on allegations that they had assaulted a police officer and were taken to Hereford Police Station. Before they left their home a police officer turned away a paramedic, despite Ghislaine having complained about being injured.  Once at the station a custody sergeant sent both Ghislaine and Ralph to Hereford Hospital for treatment. 

Charges against the pair were dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service advised that there was “no anticipated breach of the peace” and therefore the police had no right to try and seize the shotguns. 

West Mercia Police Professional Standards later agreed, and found that the three officers who attended the Arundales home had cases to answer for misconduct.  However, a misconduct meeting later decided to take no formal disciplinary action against them.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling human rights cases.