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dealing with neighbour intimidation when police have failed

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dealing with neighbour intimidation when police have failed to
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Answered in 33 minutes by:
6/8/2013
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 70,829
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Hi

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

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

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Customer reply replied 4 years ago
Hello Jo,
Thanks for getting back to me. My neighbours on either side were unhappy with their properties and tried to take some of my land as far as the mid point. (It seems my garden is wider at the expense of both of theirs).
I resisted these attempts and have defeated concerted efforts by the police to criminalise me. I am very happy to say that I was acquitted of a breach of the peace on Appeal and also for criminal damage...that action was dismissed after my new Counsel's skillful application. The judge was highly critical of the police and I am entitled to defence costs. I had three Surveys which I could use for enforcement. Two, the first and third, are clear that my neighbours were encroaching, the second (in order of the tasks) was inconclusive.
Yes I could proceed against these ridiculous people but they are so stubborn that the £30 GRAND BILL may be too late to wake them up and certainly won't help neighbour relations. I did not agree with their approach...sneeky on the one side, blazon and resorting to force on the other.
Given that the lower numbered neighbour (the LNN) removed my fence during her 'strike' at my property and destroyed it, instead of making a County Court application as I thought would have been required I decided to follow her example of self help and replace my fence (in view of my supportive survey of which she was made aware when CPS dropped her matter) with a very light touch by just leaning it over her heavy-duty fence and successfully re-installing it inspite of grumbling neighbours looking on. I am staying elsewhere to otherwise avoid confrontation with them all.
I really feel I am up against a gang mentality. I have heard there are actions to be taken in such circumstances but I wish to address my attentions to the conduct of the police. Ofcourse they have rebutted my complaint and I will appeal to the IPCC, by way of practice in formulating my case since I'm still in considerable shock but I need to crystallise the issues and tools at my disposal in some sort of County Court action. Perhaps an application, with costs applied for at the outset given the failure of the police to recognise where fault lies, for a Declaration (as if they don't know) that "the police should not involve themselves in civil issues".
Matters are compounded by my landlord who happily is a friend and appreciates my efforts (tho may have otherwise just let the property be blighted by the expiry of 10 years) having received a letter from the 'safety partnership' basically threatening him to restrain me or to address the boundary himself or else (else what I wonder?). So here is yet another one sided outfit to deal with!
Your thoughts and suggestions would be much appreciated.
I could live with two fences or none for the time being but am not prepared to indicate acquiesence.
What was the criticism of the police?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you very much indeed for the question. I will try to summarise:


 


My criticism of the police is that they have got involved in civil matters ie trying to determine boundaries; that they have displayed a lack of even handedness; and they have ignored clear evidence of wrong doing by my neighbours. There have been custody issues too such as denying me access to a lawyer and degrading treatment in detention.



 


Perhaps specific examples of what I am trying to describe will assist you in understanding what I have been up against and in particular how to effectively address my complaints in order to receive appropriate compensation and how to apply a value to such claims. I am also very concerned about the welfare of others whom this area force deal with and I think there are some serious problems. This was subsequently confirmed by the Manager of the advice body (that I contacted whilst detained). Thus I feel there are issues of public confidence here and not merely my own individual experience.


 


Incident 1/ This was the flaw of taking no action against the offender immediately after my property was destroyed and with the evidence of the destruction before the Officer. One consequence that flowed from this was the message to my neighbour that she was somehow at liberty to continue in this vein. As indeed she has done with a second assault on my property.


 


Incident 2/ On this occasion two officers attended at least one of whom was very anxious to get over to see my neighbour. He made it very clear that my concerns were of no importance to him. He seemed completely uninterested in trying to grasp the situation from my view point and I feel the time has come for someone to ask him why he believes I called the police. Allowing destruction of my property by the neighbours, who were attacking at the time I called for assistance, was the consequence of his dereliction of duty. He dismissed my recording of a threat as being "inaudible" (it was perfectly clear). Further damage to my property occurred as a result of the police taking me away so the neighbour, her relative, as well as a known bully boy and his employee could complete their "work" in my absence...after officers entered my house against my wishes and without my consent and thereafter imprisoned me at home whilst the work they determined to be permissible continued.



Incident 3/ The OIC neglected to look at the evidence of an opinion in the form of a Surveyors pin sited in the ground. This siting clearly demonstrated the neighbours fence post to be encroaching on my land. It was a survey outstanding to have been taken 8 years earlier when such had been warranted (ie: the neighbours had failed to produce a Survey at the time of enclosing their open land thus part of mine including 3 easements were effected and simultaneously and knowingly enclosed at that time). In the light of my other neighbours example,and after contacting police to advise of my intentions, I removed - with no damage save to two screws for which I had replacements (had I been allowed to complete the task) - the post which was at least partially, per the neighbours survey but I say, completely, on my land. Removal of the post revealed evidence the neighbours had been trying to hide (which was that the 20 year post in situ previously had been removed and the new post relocated onto my land).

Thanks for all the information but I really need to reduce this into relevant facts.

Could you just please tell me what the judge said about the police ? Just one sentence is fine. Please don't out yourself to detail.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

This was a civil matter. It should never have been brought. Costs to be awarded against the police. I would have access to my reasonable defence costs from the central fund.

Ok. Thats fairly common to be wholly honest.

Are you hoping to claim for malicious prosecution?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Would that be appropriate? What are the options and titles of possible actions that could be applied in my case from what I've described?


One outcome I would really appreciate is that my neighbour is obliged to remove her new fences from my land so I can put mine back where they were for nearly 12 years following the line that pre-existed. Whereafter she could then bring an action in the County Court instead of being rewarded for resorting to force.

I think Im going to need to pass this onto somebody else for you. I wouldn't know anything about the land dispute.

From the criminal point of view, I can tell you that unfortunately the chances of taking any action at all are minimal.

This isn't a malicious prosecution. It might well be one that they shouldn't have brought. There are a large number of instances of CPS not applying the public interest test properly. That doesn't give rise to a malicious prosecution.

To sue for malicious prosecution you have to show that there was bad faith and there wasn't really. They just didn't act robustly.

Many cases should be in the civil courts. That doesn't mean that there isn't a criminal allegation arising. Many issues do give rise to both criminal and civil issues.

You can make a complaint to the IPCC but probably CPS made the decision anyway.

I'm very sorry but thats your position.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you. Before you go.....


I agree I should probably complain to CPS...but can they offer any remedies? Can you possibly give me a link to their Head Office?


The element of malice I felt was on the part of the OIC who was the subject of a prior complaint I had made about deliberate obstruction being caused by my neighbours who had blocked in my car inorder to detain me so the police could give me the benefit of their opinion! That officer was very resentful and had also had dealings with me about my occupation of fields and a barn for 25 years...of which he personally disapproved.


On arrival at my property he had pre-judged the issue and just arrested me. He didn't seem to know what for, he certainly didn't tell me, didn't caution me...but the point was he did not look at the issue which was the subject of complaint. My neighbours fence post was clearly on my side of their own Surveyors marker. I feel he had a duty to consider the material facts and the position the neighbours had put me in since their works sought to avoid making the corrections required of them by their survey - which would have made it very difficult to correct later.


The other problem is on the other side that neighbour continues to attack my property because there have been no consequences to her for completely destroying my fence..(not merely adjusting it as I did with great care and damage only to two screws for which I had replacements....for which I have just been through the mill).


My solic repeatedly asked for copies of photographs taken by the surveyor which would have proved that point at an early stage.


Should i maybe press for some action against my other neighbour?

If I can be wholly honest, this entire line of enquiry is a complete waste of your time.

I do entirely understand why you are aggrieved about it but the fault really lies with the neighbours.

CPS perhaps should have been more vigorous than they were but they regularly do prosecute things that probably aren't in the public interest. That doesn't give rise to a cause of action though. You don't have a contract with CPS and so they cannot be sued for breach.

They do owe a duty of care as everybody does to everybody but prosecuting this is not a breach and anyway you've suffered no personal injury or damage to property.

If you are intent upon claiming then it really should be against the neighbour in defamation.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

oh i'm not bothered about defamation


and i did get awarded free surveys to assist me so ok


thank you for the benefit of your experience i have really appreciated it.


dealing with the other neighbour for whom there have been no consequences so far by leaning on the police is perhaps the way to go?

I'm sorry it can't be more positive but unfortunately vexatious allegers are still largely out of control in the UK.

Arguably the other neighbour should have been investigated. Destroying your fence does amount to criminal damage potentially.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

vexatious allegers?..... is this a spelling mistake... or something i haven't heard of?!


so i should press a complaint? thinking about it i haven't actually reported all her acts against me. can one write in...or is it nec to phone and obtain an incident no?

No. It means to refer to these people who make repeated false or trivial allegations.

You'll find a very interesting article on the point here

http://www.1itl.com/news/270/
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

interesting article, my neighbour reports everything that moves...!!!!!


i did actually suffer damage to property as a result directly of police arrest. i called them to help - as advised to by the deputy chief superintendent who had been assigned to assist me given my concern that the local inspector had apparently given my neighbour permission to touch my property (as she had a surveyors report, now countered by my own).


when police attended they favoured my neighbour, ignored my recording of a threat, and carted me off inorder to allow my neighbours works to proceed instead of advising that she needed a County Court order. On my return the last of the original fence posts - evidence of the pre-existing fence line since build - had gone, a shrub had been completely removed and destroyed and an ivy arch that I had spent many years growing had been cut off and died...effectively because the police allowed my neighbour to proceed with no prior notice to me or opportunity to oppose her intentions. there was no evidence there had ever been a fence where she wished to install one (ie the mid point between us) and with the situation being contentious and the legitimacy of her action subsequently contradicted by my surveyor. effectively the police acted in the place of a county court judge.....surely not their remitt? and surely grounds for complaint to the IPCC? The first round of my complaint has been rejected hence i may appeal within 28 days. Given the damage, directly as a result of police authorisation, which i had not made clear in my initial representations to ipcc might i have some prospect of success?. cps would also not have been aware of the damage to my property as a result of police action....but the police were as i had put them on notice and asked for their help IN ADVANCE and had been urged to contact police if the neighbour struck.

I'm really sorry but those are not grounds.

The real difficulty here is that you seem to have called them to meditate a civil dispute which is not their remit.

I know that senior officers advise people to report everything but its not always helpful advice. The right thing to do would have been to take civil action.

The police arrested because there was an allegation and they are free to do that.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

That is a fair point. I completely agree and I was always willing to take civil action against my other neighbour because although that other neighbour was, and still is, trying to get away with taking some of my land ...it is a civil matter and can fairly be treated as such. The distinction, I contend, has to do with any materials put on ones property and how the respondent then treats that property.


 


So I ask is a civil response an appropriate reaction to a criminal act?


 


That of completely destroying my fence? (Wherever in law the boundary may ultimately be found to be located).


 


The action by my neighbour in the first instance of using criminal damage to gain what she wanted was the act of deviant behaviour from which all other events have flowed. Her unsanctioned action sent two messages 1/ of condonment of damage to get what you want and 2/ that self help is an acceptable methodology in this district. Your colleague Josh is clear that in his opinion a County Court order is always warranted (tho I would assume if you can put a fence in without damage and without removing the neighbours version of a fenceline then her subsequent removal and confiscation of that same fence ...ie the original version back on the same line and parallel with her new, never previously having operated version... is unreasonable (but maybe not criminal? And entitles me to follow suit and to remove hers?). My motivation here is to avoid any implication of acquiesence (?spelling?) and to maintain the on-going presence of my fence.


 


I do appreciate the consideration you are putting into this answer. Thank you again so much. I really am very grateful for your kind attention. I have struggled with this and in fact you were the first expert from whom i received advice on this site .... so I am now somewhat of a fan!


I was acquitted of all charges in relation to the matters I first raised with you. Inspite of this I now face indirect allegations from the "safety partnership" implying anti-social behaviour. This is through the medium of a threatening letter to my landlord (a friend) requiring him to take over the legal dealings as Freeholder. I believe he proposes to write in reply with my account offering my explanations putting forward counter allegations and asserting my rights as a tenant to take appropriate legal action (I have exclusive occupation) which I am poised to undertake armed as I now am with supportive surveyors reports.


 


(If I have questions about how to proceed with a rebuttal ... ie: to the view - as if fact - of the safety partnership. ... such as "can legal aid be used to put forward my perspective" for the purposes of an appeal against the registration (and its unjustified implications) which the letter states have happened (fait a complis) who would be the best and most competant and thorough expert to assist and to guide me through please?)


 


In relation to your points I certainly did approach the local inspector to ask if he would come out and observe the remaining evidence (ie: the last remaining post!) with a view to protection of property and evidence NOT to ask him to mediate ..no...I don't think he would have the competance!


 


The above request from me came after my neighbour had DESTROYED my pre-existing fence (put up at her insistence in 1999)....leaving, however, ONE, of the three earlier posts, (which was clearly aged and either original ...or older than 12 years). Her action, very remotely, followed a letter vaguely suggesting a threat to relocate the fence, she had used to replace mine (which I had stated I was accepting as a replacement of mine by way of a without prejudice offer, subject to me changing the fence to one of my choosing in materials of my preferance - given this is a south facing boundary and her solid fence is affecting my lawn), still further onto my land. The Inspector came out but with another agenda however and I could not get his attention. Therefore I escalated my concern through the hierarchy and the deputy chief superintendent was assigned to assist me. He kindly offered to come out and meet me but it was conditional. He wanted me to meet with the Inspector simultaneously ...this introduced too many agendas. What I sought was for my neighbour to be advised in no uncertain terms (ie for example under threat of arrest) that if she carried out her threat to move her fence resulting in damage to my property she would be arrested.


This meeting did not happen, however as my other neighbour was clearly encroaching and had just moved her fence further onto my land (both stating that as I was just a tenant I could do nothing about it) I drew a conclusion that it was legitimate to ask my other neighbour to take her fence off my land, or I would do so, as she didn't, following my letter copied to the police, i removed her fence and was proved correct by her own surveyor. A subsequent removal of the post caused me difficullty since the OIC did not even look at the ground markers showing their post was on my side....I was arrested and since acquitted on appeal.


 


Thats the history. I am agreeable to proceeding against the higher numbered neighbour through the courts. Although they encroached in 2003.... I agree there has been some delay on my part simply because I did believe we could negotiate but now accept that this will not be possible according to counsel's advice so yes i will initiate legal action against my higher neighbour.


With respect to my lower neighbour I believe I can have the reasonable expectation that the police will arrest this woman for the damage she caused to my fence whereafter it would be a matter for CPS to decide whether or not to prosecute...but I would be prepared to withdraw my complaint...since from my perspective if she puts my fence back where it was and takes hers away (and undertakes in writing, via the medium of her solicitor, not to simply put her solid fences on the south side of my semi-open weave fencing) she would then be free to take civil action against me if she still wishes too...but, from the correct starting point, and not having taken advantage of the use of violence. Do you follow me please?

Yes, if you have an allegation of criminal damage then they should act upon it.

Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Satisfied Customers: 70,829
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Would you possibly be so kind as to ask customer services if they would email me our dialogue please and many thanks indeed for bearing with me on this rather excruciating thread! Hope it wasn't too painful to read. Its been painful to go through but I find patience is ultimately rewarding...I am so grateful to the judge for the gift of those surveys....can't really believe I have been so lucky! I must have been a very good person in a previous life!!!! Thank you again for your kind and informative help Jomo, very much indeed.

No problem at all and I will ask customer services to look at this for you.

All the best.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Many thanks.


 


Please would you be kind enough to give me the link to CPS head office. I do think a complaint is warranted since there was photographic evidence of a determination by the neighbours own Surveyor of their encroachment onto my land which was overlooked by the OIC who pre-judged the matter. This evidence was never produced inspite of repeated requests for the evidence from my Solicitor...and I still wish to be furnished with it as there is an on-going dispute.

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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

is this an avenue that could lead to some compensation? Or some mechanism whereby the real offenders in the situation could be brought to justice? At mo we are wondering how to press the police to take action on our behalves...any suggestions?

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