Police Abuse Compensation Claims

The police are here to protect the public from crime as well as supporting victims and witnesses of crime.  For the most part, police officers uphold justice and are people we can trust.

However, there are officers who abuse their standing given to them by their job and uniform.  This can be particularly traumatising as often they are there to support the individual they have abused.  Whatever form the abuse takes, it can have lifelong consequences.

Bolt Burdon Kemp have successfully brought claims against the police for abusing people they were supposed to protect.  The abuse may be sexual, physical and/or exchanging indecent images or messages.

We can help you make a claim for compensation if you were abused by an employee of a police force.

Our specialist solicitors at Bolt Burdon Kemp can help you make a claim if you were abused.  Get in touch with our caring team and we will guide you through this difficult process.  We act for most clients on a no-win, no fee basis, and can also advise you about making a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

Reporting the abuse

There is no doubt it can be daunting to report abuse committed by a police officer.  There may be a feeling that the police may try and ‘protect their own’.  Times have, thankfully, moved on.  Forces are rightly appalled and disgusted by rogue officers who have abused those they have a duty to protect.

If you have been abused by a police officer you should report it to the police.  If you are, understandably, finding it difficult to report yourself you can:

  • Tell a family member, friend or colleague
  • Speak to someone who does not know you personally such as your GP
  • Speak to a specialist charity who can assist you with reporting

You can report to the police in various ways.  You can:

  • Telephone 111
  • Visit a police station
    • You can ask to speak to a specialist officer of your preferred gender
    • Ask for a private room to speak about what happened

You don’t have to do this on your own.  You can ask someone else to speak to the police for you in the beginning or ask them to make the appointment on your behalf.  You can also take someone you trust to support you when you speak to the police.  This may be a family member, friend or partner.

The police are trained in these matters and won’t be shocked by rude words or swearing.  You can talk about what happened to you in a way that you feel comfortable with.  The vast majority of our clients say that the officers they spoke to were sensitive and understanding. 

Making a claim against the police

It is possible to make a claim against the individual involved.  However, you can also sue their employer, which would be the police force they work for.  This can often be the better course of action as organisations such as forces and local authorities are insured against claims for abuse. 

What is vicarious liability?

If you make a claim against the police force, it is on the basis that they are responsible for the actions of that officer or staff member.

It is therefore necessary to prove vicarious liability, which is the principle that the person, whether an offcer or other member of staff, was abusing the child in the course of their employment.

We are experienced in proving vicarious liability by obtaining evidence to show how the officer or staff member used their position to commit the abuse.

What if the force knew?

We can also hold the force responsible by proving that they were negligent in allowing the abuse to take place.

By demonstrating that the force knew about the abuse or should have known about the abuse and failed to act, we can hold the force liable for its negligence: for example, if another individual complained about the abuse and the force did not properly investigate or refer it to the IOPC or if the abuser had a criminal record for similar offences before being employed by the force.

Are there any time limitations?

Strictly speaking, you have 3 years from the date of the assault to bring your claim.  If you were a child at the time of the abuse you have until your 21st birthday to bring your claim.

If you have missed this deadline it may not be the end of the road.

The courts appreciate that there are a number of reasons why victims of abuse may not be able to come forward within the above time frames and can extend the time limit for bringing a claim under particular circumstances.

Bolt Burdon Kemp can help support you in this type of case and gather the right information for the courts.

How Bolt Burdon Kemp can help

Our experienced and sympathetic solicitors have helped many individuals who have been abused by the police win their cases.  We understand how hard it can be to talk openly about these subjects, but you can trust in our specialist solicitors to handle your case sensitively.

We are quality approved to undertake legal aid work for child abuse compensation claims by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).  Our expert solicitors also hold memberships with the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL), the Law Society’s specialist Personal Injury Panel and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

We know that money can never truly compensate for abuse at force.  However, it can help to rebuild survivor’s lives, as a claim can be made for the cost of private counselling or loss of earnings if the incident has impacted a career. 

Success stories

  • West Yorkshire Police pay damages for abuse at hands of Police Community Support Officer

West Yorkshire police have paid a five figure sum for image-based sexual abuse. Our client joined Brickhouse Youth Club in Ossett, Wakefield when it first opened. Liam Austerfield was a police community support officer who was involved in the running of the youth club.

Our client met Austerfield through the youth club when she was a young teenager. Soon after, Austerfield would message our client using Facebook. The messaging culminated in Austerfield sending an indecent image to our client which, understandably, caused her significant distress.

The force vigorously defended the claim. Shockingly, they stated that they did not direct their employees to have relationships with members of the youth club so they could not be liable for Austerfield’s actions. This is plainly incorrect.

Following a court hearing the Force agreed to settle our client’s claim for a five-figure sum.

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