Damages for Police Wrongs

AuthorAndy Khan
Published date01 October 1985
Date01 October 1985
Subject MatterArticle
Adult and Continuing Education.
Leeds University L52 9JT.
Whilst false imprisonment is an offence under common law
punishable by fine and imprisonment (although such a prosecution
these days is rare), the major remedies for a restraint amounting
false imprisonment or unlawful arrest in civil law are by way of
damages or habeas corpus. The remedy of habeas corpus is
cumbersome, and many solicitors do not know the proper
procedure for it. However, it is a good way of getting someone
released before the order is ever served - as happened recently in
the gold bullion arrest and the detention of two Kashmiree persons
in Birmingham after a bomb blast at the Indian Consulate. These
two people were never charged.'
Major remedy
By far the major remedy is damages.
will be remembered that
Magna Carta grants personal liberty and immunity from wrongful
detention. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 19842now puts in
statutory language the common law rule that ahalf-way·house of
"helping police with their inquiries"! does not exist.
says that
where, for the purposes of assisting with an investigation, a person
attends voluntarily at a police station or at any other place where a
constable is present or accompanies aconstable to a police station
or any such other place without having been arrested, he shall be
entitled to leave at will unless he is placed under arrest; and if a
decision is made to prevent him leaving at will he has to be
informed at once that he is under
Therefore, it is now made
abundantly clear that aperson can be taken to a police station only
if he goes voluntarily or is under arrest. Of course, the 1984Act now
gives the police powers to detain someone up to 36 hours without
charge,' but this has to be after a lawful arrest has been made.
person is unlawfully arrested, e.g. without reasonable suspicion, or
unlawfully detained, e.g. for more than 24 hours without at least a
superintendent's authorization, (s)he can inter alia sue for damages.
Detentionfor a period longer than justified or authorized by the law
is false imprisonment under common law."
European Convention
may be noted here that the Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms? states
October /985 323

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