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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Am I able to sue the police for unlawful arrest? An allegation

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Am I able to sue the police for unlawful arrest? An allegation was made against me in December that I had assaulted a child - it was never proven, however I was arrested and the arrest will show on my CRB report. I was asked to attend the police station for questioning which I did voluntarily, however when I arrived I was arrested.

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

In order to give you answer tailored to your circumstances I will need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Why did they arrest you? What was their account?

Are you a teacher?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I was arrested on suspicion of a sexual assault on my goddaughter. I was questioned, released on bail and then 6 days later it was dropped. I was never charged. I am a teacher although the incident was unrelated to my job/place of work.


But why did they arrest you rather than treat you as a volunteer? Did you refuse to comply with something?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX with everything. I was telephoned by the police asking me to attend the police station to answer some questions regarding an allegation made against me but when I arrived I was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.


I just need 10 mins to type out an answer.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It's been 20 mins, I'm waiting for an answer.

Thanks for the information.

You raise a very interesting question actually. I have to say that I am amazed that it hasn’t come up more often that it has.

Obviously an allegation was made against you and the police are under a duty to investigate. You probably realise that already. There are lots of human rights authorities that require them to consider every complaint.

The question here though is reducible to this. Was there a need to arrest you? Clearly it was in their interests to do that. Their game will have been to take your prints and DNA which they cannot do if you are there as a volunteer unless you agree to an evidential sample and then it has to be destroyed at the end of the case. In fairness, I’m sure the individual officers were not being sinister but they tend to follow force policy.

The law comes from S24 PACE. PACE provides by Section 24:

(3)If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without a warrant—
(b)anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it.

(4)But the power of summary arrest conferred by subsection (1), (2) or (3) is exercisable only if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in subsection (5) it is necessary to arrest the person in question.

They have the power under S29 PACE to deal with a suspect voluntarily at the police station.

There has been a very useful case on this point called Richardson v Chief Constable of West Midlands which you will find here

In a nutshell, this was a case brought by the National Union of Teachers. One of their members was arrested despite attending as a volunteer and being fully compliant. At point 71 in the Judgment, the Court accepted that the arrest was unlawful.

You do, in principle, have a claim against them in money compensation. If I read your question correctly though you are not really interested in the money but the prints and DNA and entry upon your CRB.

In Richardson the Court didn’t make an order about the destruction of prints and DNA. You will find that at point 76. In fairness, that was essentially because the respondent was saying that it would consider such destruction anyway if the decision went against them.

In any event though, it is unlikely that a higher court would order the removal of this from your CRB. Even if you had been there as a volunteer they would have been entitled to enter the fact of the arrest upon your PNC which would show on your enhanced level CRB check. That isn’t really a consequence of the wrongful act here. The prints and DNA may be subject to destruction but they, in principle, will not be a big issue for you long term although I can see why you would not want them upon the database because of this false allegation.

You do need to bear in mind that your union might not fund all of this as well as it does not arise from your employment.

Another option, which is much cheaper, is to appeal to the DNAFRP.

Under the ACPO retention guidelines there is an exceptional case procedure for the removal of DNA, prints and PNC records. They are rare in fairness but since its free to do I would consider that first.

You need to write to your local police force asking for deletion of the record. Also ask for their policy upon deletion and examples of what they would consider exception.

They will refuse on the basis that the record is held lawfully. They will invite you to state why you think your case is exceptional.

You should write back, outlining the reasons why you believe it should be deleted. The truth is that this is a very difficult problem. Your case is not exceptional. You are one of the thousands of men who are falsely accused every year. Your complaint is that it is unfair that a false allegation should damage your future and most of the public would support you but, unfortunately, it doesn’t really amount to ‘exceptional’.

The Chief Officer should consider your response and either reply directly refusing your request, or refer the case papers to the DNAFRP to ensure a consistent national approach. If referring to the DNAFRP, the Chief Officer will receive an informed response, and will then be able to respond to you directly with notification of their decision.

If you do need to go to tribunal at the DNAFRP or before the high court under judicial review then you can talk to this counsel

I know she does a lot of this type of work and the website suggests she is public access registered which will be a fraction of the price of the normal route through a solicitor.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Jo C. and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you very much indeed Jo, this is very useful to me. Just one other question if you don't mind. I have taken the decision to leave the teaching profession in view of all the stress this incident had caused me. I am now looking to pursue an alternative career in financial services (my previous career before teaching) and have been in contact with my previous employer to ask what sort of reference I am likely to expect from him. He has stated that his reference will be "factual comments" based on the job I did at his school, however he mentions that he is "required to mention that an allegation of a child protection nature was made" (even though the allegation had nothing to do with my teaching job). My question Jo is this: Is he required to mention the allegation on a reference when the job I am applying for has nothing to do with working with children? I can totally understand that this disclosure would have to be made if I was applying for another teaching job but I am not and I have made him aware that I have now left the teaching profession. It just seems unfair that he will be mentioning this on a reference which will ultimately affect my chances of getting the job I want. Thanks.

I'm not an employment lawyer Im afraid. I wouldn't know anything about that. I'm a criminal hack.

On the face of it, it does seem unreasonable but its an entirely different area of law. I can ask one of my employment colleagues to look at it though. I'm sure they will get to it soon.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes if you could that would be much appreciated. Thanks for your help.

I'll let you know when he comes back. He's offline right now though but I'm sure he'll be on today.

An employment specialist has come back.

He makes these comments. An employer is under a duty of care to provide a reference that is true, accurate and fair and does not present facts so as to give a misleading impression overall. Actually a reference does not have to relate specifically to the job applied for and if the employer believes that a piece of info is relevant they can still include it as long as it is factually correct unfortunately.