Assault and battery/Trespass to Person

Officers of a Police Constabulary have the power to use reasonable force in effecting a lawful arrest. The extent of the force used depends on each individual set of circumstances. If the force used in effecting an arrest is deemed unnecessary/unreasonable/excessive, then this would amount to an assault and the individual would have a potential action against the Chief Constable of that particular Constabulary for assault and may be entitled to compensation.

If an individual is arrested unlawfully then any force used, however slight, in effecting that arrest will amount to an assault or trespass of that individual.

The police are not entitled to make contact with an individual unless they have the authority to do so. For instance, if a police officer who does not have the authority to arrest an individual or does not intend to arrest an individual takes hold of them then this would amount to an assault in the same way it would if a member of the public took hold of them.

The same applies to prison officers who use force upon an inmate. They can only do so if they have the authority to do so and if the force they use is reasonable and proportionate. If they do not have such authority or the use of force is unnecessary/unreasonable/excessive then this will amount to an assault.

Unlawful Search

The police are only entitled to search an individual if they have the proper authority to do so. If they do not have the appropriate authority, then the search will amount to a trespass to the person and it does not matter whether that person has been injured or not during the search.

If you feel that you have been falsely imprisoned or assaulted or there has been a trespass to your person by the police or a prison officer then please contact a member of our Police Actions team on 0151 933 3333 or email us at

Case Study

We pursued a claim for false imprisonment and assault against Merseyside Police. Our client was arrested in Birkenhead and upon being booked in by the Custody Officer the arresting officer grabbed our client and forced him down on the desk before the Custody Officer, slamming his face on the counter. In order to protect his face, our client tilted his head backwards, and his chin took the full force of the impact with the desk, causing our client’s chin to split and bleed immediately.

Our client immediately indicated that he wished to make a complaint and the Custody Sergeant on duty at the time indicated that there was CCTV recording equipment in operation. We alleged that the arrest was unlawful and that the actions of the officer at the custody desk amounted to an assault. The case settled for the sum of £13,200.

This case was reported in the media and footage of the incident in the custody suite was published online. The article for the Liverpool Echo is linked below:

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