09 May 2009

How Much?

The Times tells the tale of "Teacher Matthew Wren [who] wins battle to have DNA records deleted". The article explains that the teacher was falsely accused of assault by one of his pupils; during the course of events, the teacher went to the local police station with a solicitor in order to give an interview. Unfortunately, the police decided to arrest him.

The story focuses on how the teacher has now managed to have his DNA details removed from the police database.

But what is of interest to me is the paltry amount of damages that the teacher got for being wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned; namely, £1,000.

Looking at the case law, in Raissi the court reminds us that,

"... in English law every imprisonment is prima facie unlawful and it is for a person directing an imprisonment to justify his act."

Going back to the newspaper article they explain that "... under Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 a police officer can arrest anyone he reasonably suspects of committing an offence but only if it is necessary to do so."

There wasn't any necessary reason to arrest the teacher, a person who had voluntarily gone to the police station to be interviewed. The police could not justify their act and so the arrest was unlawful.

If I unlawfully arrested you, would you be happy to receive £1,000 in damages?

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