How to Sue the Police and Win (Without Ever Having To Go To Court)

…I want to shout it from the mountain tops. We won! This is a massive thing for me. I have never had a good outcome like this.
Mr. D. Primus

About 6 months ago I published an article on an unlawful stop and search. It was based on a Youtube video of someone being stopped on the street by a West Yorkshire police officer.
The man who videoed it (D. Primus) had simply gone to the house of a friend that morning and knocked on the door. When there was no reply he walked away. At that point a police van whizzed past with P.C. Andrew 3390 at the wheel and a clueless PCSO in the passenger seat.
For no discernible reason, P.C. Andrew took an immediate dislike to Mr. Primus, so he pulled over and questioned him.

Suspecting that he was about to be subjected to a bit of police high handedness, Mr. Primus wisely took out his phone and began recording the incident. What he captured was 7 minutes of typical police arrogance.  The ‘guilty until proven innocent’ routine that police officers subject innocent people to, maybe because that person gave them a sour look or made an offhand comment.

After seeing the video, I contacted Mr. Primus and told him that I would be interested in pursuing this on his behalf. It turned out that Mr. Primus had already made a complaint and the police, true to form, had rejected it with their characteristic whitewash. He sent me the 3 page excuse letter. I read it and then drafted an appeal on his behalf.

In the appeal letter I pointed out a few important points of law in relation to the facts and explained how the entire incident constituted false imprisonment. P.C Andrew’s threat by gripping his C.S gas canister while making his demands constituted an assault. No intentions to sue were made at that point. That would come later. 

A few months later the PSD completed their appeal investigation and wrote back. Another whitewash of course, albeit a little more cautious than the last. I expected this. My aim was to use the complaints process to establish the police’s defence, should a civil claim be brought. The more they tried to excuse the officers wrongdoings, lie about the facts and manipulate the law, the worse they were making it for themselves. And the easier they were making it to sue them.

Next, I sent them a Letter Before Claim, specifying the claimant’s intention to take them to court. The letter sought £500 for the unlawful imprisonment. And another £500 for the assault.

The next response we was very different to everything that came before it. No more from the lie department. Now it was being handled by police solicitors. Slowly of course – it took months – but the only letter I had to send after that was a short missive setting out a time limit.

A few days ago Mr. Primus received a letter from West Yorkshire Police agreeing to a settlement of £500. Not a huge sum, and in my view he deserved much more. But the claim wasn’t about money. It was about endorsing Mr.Primus’s view as the correct one and holding the police to account.

You don’t have to go to court to settle a claim. And the police complaints process is not the end of the road. The complaints process should be treated as nothing else but a necessary first step of bringing a civil action. You can then take your complaint out of the hands of the police and put it into the hands of the court. Where, in most cases, the police are too cowardly to fight it out. Especially when they know that their entire defence is a three page novella of lies designed to save one of their mates from a fall from grace.