Last year I had a light accident that was not my fault and the police was involved. Long story short I was detained and presented with charges that were not true. After clearing everything up I went online and started searching for a solicitor that would be able to help me raise a case for unlawful detainment. Donoghue solicitors stood out and I got in touch via their contact form. I was swiftly contacted by one of their solicitors, Kemmi Alfa. She was brilliant from start to finish. Not only did she explained everything and kept in touch every step of the way but she got and acknowledgement of guilt from them and a higher then usual settlement. I couldn’t praise them enough. Tip top and highly recommended. Thanks for all your help.
Client: Mihai Andrei from Norwich
Claim: Civil actions against the police for:
- breach of section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998
- data protection compensation claim (brought under the Data Protection Act 1998)
- assault/ battery
Defendant: Chief Constable of Norfolk Police
- £5,000 compensation
- legal costs paid
- destruction of biometric data/ DNA/ fingerprints.
Mr Andrei has kindly allowed us to use his details. This account is based on his version of events, some of which is disputed.
Mihai Andrei is a Romanian citizen who lives and works in the UK as a sales agent. He had a clean police record before this incident.
In September 2019 Mr Andrei went to Enterprise to hire a van. He hires vans at least once a week to deliver goods and is well known there.
A small boy rode his bike in front of the van as Mihai was leaving the car park. He could not see the child from his high-up position and knocked the boy off his bike. The child suffered minor injuries but was otherwise unharmed.
Mr Andrei was shaken up by the accident. The police came and put him in a police car to take a statement. Mihai also gave them his driver’s licence so they could run a police national computer (PNC) check. An officer instructed a control centre operator to search the police national database. The operator reported that there was a warrant out for Mr Andrei’s arrest. It said he was wanted for kidnap, blackmail, and assault in Luton. This was shocking news. Mihai told the officers they must be mistaken. He had only ever been to Luton to go to the airport.
Mihai asked the police when the alleged offence took place. They told him that it was in June or July 2019. Mr Andrei told the police that he could prove he was working in Norwich at that time and that they were mistaken.
Despite this, the officers ignored Mr Andrei. They arrested and handcuffed Mihai and took him into custody at Wymondham Police Investigation Centre.
The police booked him in at the station. Mihai again denied the charges to the custody officer. An officer checked the PNC record. He noted that the information held on the police national computer system said the wanted man had tattoos and scars. The police checked Mr Andrei’s arms. He had neither.
And yet, despite:
- Mr Andrei’s clear insistence that he was not the wanted man
- his offer of proof that he had a solid alibi
- visual confirmation that Mr Andrei did not have the tattoos or scars described on the police’s own PNC record
the officers detained Mr Andrei.
The police took his fingerprints, biometrics, and DNA sample, ignoring Mihai’s objections.
Norfolk Police held him for 2 hours 36 minutes. They eventually released Mihai because his “fingerprints and description did not match wanted male”.
Mr Andrei had to pay £15 to get a taxi home, adding to his sense of grievance.
How Donoghue Solicitors Helped Mr Andrei With His PNC Check Error Claim
Mr Andrei was traumatised, upset, and embarrassed by what had happened. He searched the internet for legal advice about bringing police warrant claims. He contacted Donoghue Solicitors and spoke with Kemmi Alfa, Chartered Legal Executive.
Kemmi discussed the case with her colleague, Kevin Donoghue, Solicitor. They agreed to represent Mr Andrei in his civil claim against Norfolk Police on a “no win no fee” basis.
The lawyers obtained the necessary documentation from their client and the police. They sent details of Mr Andrei’s claim to the Chief Constable of Norfolk Police in a Letter Before Claim. In it, they argued that Mr Andrei was entitled to compensation for:
- false imprisonment
- assault/ battery
- breach of Article 5 of the ECHR (s.6 Human Rights Act 1998)
- breach of the Data Protection Act 2018
Mihai’s lawyers demanded compensation for their client’s:
- loss of liberty
- psychological injury
- out of pocket expenses.
Norfolk Police’s Response to the Compensation Claim
As so often happens, the police delayed in responding to the claim. Donoghue Solicitors threatened proceedings against them to progress the case.
Ultimately, they were not required and Norfolk Police admitted liability.
What went wrong with the Police National Computer Check?
In their admission of liability, Norfolk Police explained that the identification error occurred because an inexperienced call handler failed to check the date of birth of the wanted man when they conducted the police national computer check.
If the call-handler had done this simple task they would have found that Mihai and the wanted man had different dates of birth. The only thing both men had in common was their name.
Norfolk Police accepted that Mr Andrei was falsely imprisoned for 2 hours 36 mins and that he was entitled to compensation for his losses.
What Did the Police Do About the Accident?
The police came to the scene because Mihai knocked a child off his bike. They investigated and viewed CCTV footage. The video confirmed that, given the height of Mihai’s vehicle, “he could not possibly have seen the child before pulling out of the car park.”
The investigating officer “took the view that it was a genuine accident and accordingly, no further action was taken”.
- admitted liability for false imprisonment
- admitted that handcuffing Mr Andrei and taking his DNA & fingerprints resulted in assault/ battery
- said they expected Mihai to prove his psychological injury before paying compensation.
But they did not make an offer to settle. This meant that the parties were no closer to resolving the case, despite the admissions.
Kevin and Kemmi discussed matters with Mihai. With his agreement, the lawyers sent a detailed letter proposing settlement at £5,000. The offer was based on detailed research and applied case law as it applied to the facts of Mihai’s case.
Result of this Police National Computer Check Error Claim
The police accepted Mihai’s settlement proposal. With our help, he got:
- a full, written explanation confirming what went wrong and why
- awarded £5,000 compensation plus legal costs
- biometric data, DNA and fingerprints records deleted under ss.63D and 63R of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
- confirmation that the police did not hold him responsible for the accident.
Mihai was thrilled with the result. He left the review above and said:
I will not hesitate to contact you in case I or anybody I know ever needs a solicitor again in the future.