Wrongful Arrest/False Imprisonment

Reasonable Suspicion

Officers of a Police Constabulary have the power to arrest an individual if they reasonably suspect that individual of committing a criminal offence. However, that suspicion must be reasonable and mere suspicion or “a hunch” is insufficient. If the Officer cannot demonstrate that he or she has formed a reasonable suspicion then the arrest and subsequent detention is unlawful. In those circumstances, an individual would be entitled to claim compensation for unlawful or false imprisonment.

It is important to be aware that when an arrest is unlawful, any contact, however slight, will amount to a trespass to the person or even an assault. Even when an arrest is deemed to be lawful any prosecution may be unlawful and in such circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for malicious prosecution or misfeasance in public office.

Necessity to Arrest

When an officer has formed a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed, he or she must then consider whether it is necessary to arrest the individual. In many cases, there are alternatives to arrest. For instance, the individual could be invited for a voluntary interview.

If an individual is arrested and it is ultimately held that there were alternatives to arrest then the arrest will be deemed unlawful and the individual will be entitled to compensation for false imprisonment.


When an arrest takes place, the police are only entitled to detain that person for a reasonable period of time and they must justify the detention minute by minute. If there comes a point when it is not reasonable for the person’s detention to continue, either because they ought to be released on bail, released with no further action to be taken or charged with an offence and released, any continued detention thereafter becomes unlawful and that individual would be entitled to compensation for false or unlawful imprisonment for the additional period.

Delay in Release from Prison

If the Court has ordered your release or the date for your release is reached and you are detained for any period after this, then you may be entitled to compensation for false or unlawful imprisonment.

Contact Us

If you feel you have been arrested unlawfully or you have been held too long in custody following your arrest or period of imprisonment then please contact a member of our Police Actions team on 0151 933 3333 or email us at info@jamesmurraylaw.com

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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