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Actions Against The Police

False Imprisonment & Wrongful Arrest Compensation

Being arrested or detained by the police can be a very frightening experience. When this is done unlawfully or using unnecessary aggression it can be even more intimidating. If you have been the victim of wrongful arrest or false imprisonment, our expert lawyers could help you claim compensation from the police.

We could help if you’ve been:

  • Arrested without reasonable grounds
  • Held in custody without explanation
  • Assaulted

The police have considerable power and this means we place a lot of trust in them to make the right decisions and act responsibly. They can only arrest someone if they have reasonable grounds to believe they have committed a crime. Examples of this might include:

  • Reliable information about a person’s involvement in criminal activity
  • Evidence that a person was at the place where a crime happened

'Reasonable grounds' mean that if someone else was presented with the same information, they would also come to the same conclusions. At all times, the police should account for their actions so that you understand what is happening and what you are being detained for.

When making an arrest, the police must:

  • Identify themselves as the police
  • Tell you that you’re being arrested
  • Tell you what crime they think you’ve committed

Even someone suspected of a crime has a right to fair treatment, and it is very important that the police do not infringe on this right by using their power to intimidate or hurt someone.

Standing up to an authority like the police can seem daunting, but we’re here to help. Our expert lawyers have experience bringing claims against almost every major police force in the country and will work hard to get you the justice you deserve.

If you would like to talk to one of the team about a wrongful arrest, false imprisonment or assault, please call us free on 0800 028 1943 – or fill out an enquiry form online.

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False Imprisonment & Wrongful Arrest - More Information
    • Who Can Make A Claim?
    • Anyone who believes they have been subjected to police misconduct may be able to bring legal action against the police. You can also bring a claim on someone else’s behalf if they are unable to – for example if they:

      • Are a child
      • Lack mental capacity to instruct solicitors

      You can also bring a claim on behalf of a loved one who has died if an inquest finds that the police or other authority was responsible for their death. For more information on how we can represent you at inquest, please visit our Inquests page.

    • How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim?
    • There are strict time limits in place when bringing a claim, so we always recommend getting in touch with our experts sooner rather than later.

      You have 6 years to make a claim for wrongful arrest or false imprisonment. However, you only have 3 years if you are making a personal injury claim.

      If you are making a complaint against the police, you only have one year.

      There are some exceptions that may apply, for example:

      • If you are claiming on behalf of a child
      • If you are bringing a claim on behalf of someone without the mental capacity to bring their own claim

      If you are thinking about making a claim against the police or another authority, we urge you to get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can advise you on the best action.

    • What’s The Process For Making A Claim?
    • First of all you’ll speak to one of our friendly team on the phone. You can talk to us about your situation and we’ll assess whether or not we can help you.

      If we’re able to take your claim forward, we’ll get started right away. Our expert team will look into your case in detail, compiling evidence to make sure your case is as strong as possible. Where appropriate – for example in the case of personal injury – we’ll obtain expert medical opinion to support your claim and show the impact on your life.

      Bringing a claim against the police may involve first filing a police complaint. If this is the case, we’ll be able to advise you through the process. You can find out more about how these complaints are dealt with on our Police Complaints Procedure page.

      Once we have everything we need, we’ll attempt to settle your claim. Most cases settle out of court and that is always our preferred option, but if this isn’t possible, we will support you through the trial and help you with any court appearance.

    • What Is The IPCC?
    • The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is an independent body set up to deal with complaints against the police. Anyone can make a complaint to the IPCC but they tend to only investigate the most serious claims – usually those involving severe injury or death.

      Complaints not dealt with by the IPCC should be referred to the Professional Standards Department within the relevant police force so that the conduct of the police officer/s involved can be properly investigated. However, this is often not the case, and we often find examples of both the IPCC and the Professional Standards Department not properly applying the police complaints procedure.

      This means although the correct structures are in place for people to file a complaint against the police, this doesn’t guarantee every complaint the attention it deserves.

      For this reason we advise having the experts on your side. 

      Read more about our expertise in handling the Police Complaints Procedure.

    • What funding is available?
    • When we first take on your case will discuss funding options with you. Legal aid is available to bring claims against the police, provided you meet the financial eligibility criteria. This may involve a conditional fee agreement (No Win No Fee*), fixed fee, or other funding arrangement.

    • Meet the Team
    • We’ve helped clients to claim against almost every major police force in the country. Our specialist lawyers have the experience and expertise to make sure your case gets the attention it deserves.

      We have a proven track record of success in high profile cases and frequently challenge police policy and activities. Fiona McGhie on our team worked with Cerebra to update their guidelines on the arrest and detention of disabled children. We also work closely with the charity INQUEST to push for more transparency around deaths in police custody and other state detention.

      We are listed as a leading firm in the area of Actions Against the Police by the premier legal guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. As well as our own specialist knowledge, as a full-service law firm we can draw on the expertise of colleagues from all areas of law where appropriate to ensure your case is dealt with as comprehensively as possible.

      We promise to keep you informed throughout your case, avoiding legal jargon and explaining everything to you in plain English. However your case progresses, we’ll do everything we can to protect your best interests and take the determined action required to achieve a positive resolution for you and your family.

      Meet the team

I feel like I've taken on the world and beaten it, not just for me but for everyone else."

Mrs R, Client
Client Quote

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Wrongful Arrest And False Imprisonment?

In order to make an arrest, the police must have reasonable grounds to believe that you may have committed a crime. It must also be the case that someone else – i.e. not a police officer – would also believe this if presented with the evidence.

There also needs to be a valid reason for arresting a suspect at the time – if for example they might flee otherwise. If it is not necessary to bring someone into custody, the arrest could be unlawful.

If you have been subject to a wrongful arrest this could also result in a claim for false imprisonment for the time spent in police custody. The false imprisonment starts from the time of the arrest, so also includes the time it takes to get to the police station.

We could help you make a police complaint to make sure you get the answers and apology you deserve. We could also help you claim compensation for:

  • Physical injury and psychological trauma
  • Lost earnings
  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation for any injuries

We’ll listen to you and take the time to understand the full impact this experience has had on your life, working hard to make sure your claim reflects this.

Call today on 0800 028 1943 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.


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Are The Police Allowed To Use Force?

There are strict rules in place for when and how the police are allowed to use force. Any force used must not be excessive and should be appropriate to the level of threat they are faced with. If they act outside what is necessary, you could make a claim for:

  • Assault – the fear that someone will use force against you
  • Battery – the use of force against you

The police need to have justification for using any force or physical contact. If they are attempting to arrest you unlawfully, or they have not made clear what they are arresting you for, any contact made could amount to battery. This is also the case if you are trying to defend yourself from an unlawful arrest.

Some police officers also carry Taser guns. There are clear rules about the use of Tasers, but nevertheless they have sometimes been used unnecessarily. Read more about how we can help you make a Taser gun claim.

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How Can Irwin Mitchell Help Me?

We have experience bringing claims against almost every major police force in the country across a wide range of issues. In particular we have expertise helping:

  • Protesters – such as animal welfare and environmental campaigners
  • Representing families at Inquest whose loved ones have died in police custody or similar
  • People with disabilities who have been unfairly treated

We are listed as a leading firm by the respected legal guides Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 for our work in bringing claims against the police.

We are actively involved in many charities dealing with the criminal justice system and routinely work to challenge police guidelines and ensure better practice for the future.

Our Public Law and Human Rights team is passionate about achieving justice for you and your family. If you choose Irwin Mitchell to help you bring a claim for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, or assault, you can be sure you are in the most experienced and expert hands.

Call us today on 0800 028 1943 – or use our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you.

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Awards & Accreditations

We're always proud to be recognised for the work we do for our clients and have been named as a leading firm in the latest legal guides - which provide information and recommendations about lawyers and law firms in the UK.


We're very pleased to be an approved Head Injury Solicitor for Headway, the brain injury association. UK Chambers & Partners Leading Firm 2018 Leading Firm - Legal 500 2017 Private Client Team of the Year - Legal Business Awards 2018

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