Donoghue Solicitors recovered compensation for Miss B in her breach of the peace claim.
Miss B lives with her mother. A neighbour called the police in the early hours of the morning to complain about an alleged disturbance at their house.
The police arrived, went into her home and, even though there was no evidence of a disturbance, arrested Miss B for a breach of the peace.
They handcuffed Miss B and took her to a local police station where she was ‘booked in’. Her fingerprints and DNA were taken; the police took her clothing; and gave her a ‘safety gown’.
She was formally charged with a breach of the peace and kept in the police station overnight.
About 10 hours later Miss B was taken to the Magistrates Court. She denied breach of the peace and insisted that she would fight the case.
Later the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued the criminal proceedings against her.
Miss B’s criminal solicitors referred her breach of the peace claim to Donoghue Solicitors as we specialise in actions against the police.
Compensation claim after a breach of the peace
Kevin Donoghue, Solicitor Director of Donoghue Solicitors, personally reviewed Miss B’s compensation claims against the police.
He investigated the circumstances with her and found out that, after Miss B had initially been arrested for breach of the peace, the police repeatedly arrested her. Understandably, this made her more determined to deal with matters.
Mr Donoghue considered that the necessary legal elements to prove a breach of the peace in the first arrest did not exist.
The law, as outlined in the case of R v Howell(1982), supported his view.
The police needed to justify the arrest by showing that there were reasonable grounds for believing that a breach of the peace was taking place or was about to happen.
The Court of Appeal has defined a breach of the peace as being an act done or threatened to be done which either actually harms a person or his/ her property or is likely to cause such harm.
As these grounds did not exist in Miss B’s case, Mr Donoghue felt that the arrest, detention, and trespass at her home were unlawful.
Kevin submitted details of Miss B’s breach of the peace claim to the police, alleging:
- false imprisonment;
- police assault; and
- claimed aggravated and exemplary damages to punish the police for their unconstitutional and arbitrary behaviour.
Miss B also filed a complaint against the police. During the course of the complaint investigation a Chief Inspector reviewed the circumstances of the arrest for breach of the peace.
He confirmed Mr. Donoghue’s assessment that the police acted unlawfully when they arrested and detained Miss B.
The police’s representatives responded by denying liability, saying that the arrest for breach of the peace was lawful.
They refused to apologise or pay compensation despite being told the police officers acted unlawfully by both Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor who specialises in compensation claims against the police, and the Chief Inspector who investigated Miss B’s complaint.
Court Proceedings for a breach of the police claim
Because the police refused to settle Miss B’s compensation claim, Donoghue Solicitors, acting as no win no fee police claims lawyers, had no alternative but to issue court proceedings.
The police’s solicitors filed a formal defence at court again arguing that the arrest and detention were lawful.
But with Miss B’s approval, Kevin Donoghue was able to persuade them otherwise and settle her breach of the peace claim.
Miss B received substantial compensation and full legal costs for her claim for false imprisonment, police assault, and trespass due to breach of the peace. She did not need to go to court.
Miss B is satisfied that the compensation Donoghue Solicitors recovered for her will send a message to the police about the consequences of repeating this police misconduct.