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Actions Against The Police FAQs

Read the most frequently asked questions regarding police complaints and suing the police.

Police officers are people of authority who are expected to not only uphold the law, but also abide by it. They should protect the people they serve, and keep their community safe. If they behave unethically and unprofessionally, they should be held accountable for their misconduct.  

If you are thinking of filing a police complaint or a civil lawsuit for misconduct or unethical, unprofessional acts by a police officer, our panel can help you. Our panel of expert solicitors are trained and experienced in taking action against the police. Below, in our actions against the police FAQs, we detail all of the necessary information you should need. If there are any questions we have not answered in relation to police complaints or suing the police, please get in touch.


What is a police complaint?

A police complaint is when an individual expresses dissatisfaction with how they were treated or with the service provided to them by the police force or officer. The complaint is based on professional behaviour standards and is related to internal discipline.

A successful complaint results in sanctions against the concerned police officer/s or force, which can include professional advice, warnings, restricted duties, suspension, additional training, and in some cases, dismissal.

Every police complaint procedure is controlled by the Independent Office for Police Conduct or IOPC-issued statutory guidance.

Police complaints are completely free to make, and you do not need a solicitor to file one.


What are examples of police misconduct? 

Some common examples of police misconduct that our panel of solicitors regularly see include:

  • Unlawful arrest
  • Police abuse
  • False imprisonment
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Human rights violations
  • Wrongly carrying out a police warrant
  • Physical assault or excessive force (such as when using a Taser gun)
  • Discrimination
  • Charged with a lack of evidence
  • Police dog bites
  • Police data breaches
  • Mistaken identity


What is taking civil action against the police?

When someone takes civil action against the police, that person or entity files a claim for compensation via the judicial system. It allows any member of the public who has been abused or mistreated by the police to use UK law and take legal action against the police. This is much more serious than a police complaint. 

Taking civil action against the police is not the same as filing a complaint against the police. A complaint is intended for encouraging the concerned police officer/s to adhere to disciplinary action/s. Civil action involves the law and the judicial system.  

Taking legal action against the police involves compensation being awarded to the victim. This is intended to compensate for the pain and suffering that occurred as a result of the police misconduct.  This may be as a result of injury, time spent away from work, physiological trauma, or to replace damaged belongings. 


Can I make a complaint against the police without a solicitor?

Yes, you can. You have two options if you want to make a formal complaint against the police. These are:


  1. The first option is to take your complaint straight to the police station where the concerned police officer(s) is assigned. You can do this by:
    • Writing a letter to the police and personally bringing it to the police station
    • Visit the police force website (that you are filing the complaint against) and find the complaint form


  1. Secondly, if you live in England or Wales, you can also file your complaint via the IOPC. Go to their website and look for the police force you are complaining against and fill out the complaints form. The IOPC has an online complaint form that you are free to use.


Are there time limits for taking action against the police?

Yes, there are time limits for taking action against the police. In England and Wales, these are called limitation periods, wherein court proceedings must be issued accordingly or else it would be difficult to claim for compensation. Depending on the type of police misconduct, these time limits can differ.

If you believe that you have a claim, act on it right away. If you have not yet filed a claim but still have time, make that claim now. 

The following are the specific limitation periods for taking action against the police:

  • Unlawful arrests and False Imprisonment – Six years
  • False imprisonment – Six years
  • Assault/personal injury/battery – Three years
  • Human rights violation – One year
  • Wrongful stop and search – Six years
  • Discrimination (Equality Act) – Six months
  • Malicious prosecution – Six years
  • Negligence leading to personal injury or death – Three years
  • Negligence without personal injury – Six years

There are exceptions to limitation periods for claimants under 18, who are protected parties, and for cases where the concerned police force knowingly hid relevant facts.

We advise getting in touch right away if you believe you have been a victim of police misconduct, so to avoid being time-barred. 


Will I need evidence to bring forward a police complaint?

Yes, it will assist your case if you take photos of any injuries you sustained or keep receipts of damaged property. You should also visit a doctor to get a full assessment of any physical or mental injuries. All messages to and from the police force should also be kept. All of this evidence will be used to build your case. 


How much can my civil claim against the police be worth?

The compensation you will receive after a successful action against the police claim depends on the type of misconduct you have been a victim of. Compensation amounts range from several hundred or thousands of pounds to £500,000+ for severe cases or more. For example, if the police misconduct resulted in PTSD, the payouts can be anywhere from £56,000 to £94,000.  Our panel of police solicitors will be able to tell you how much you may look to recover.


How is police misconduct compensation calculated?

Police misconduct compensation is calculated according to the circumstances of your case. There are three types of damages that the court will potentially award to a successful claimant. These are:

  • Basic damages – compensation for injuries and damages inflicted during the act of misconduct
  • Aggravated damages – awarded in exceptional cases where the police have deliberately acted to cause harm
  • Exemplary damages – very rare, meant to punish the police for outrageous conduct rather than only compensate the claimant no financial compensation 

Every police misconduct case is different, and our panel will be able to explain exactly what damages you will look to recover should you decide to move ahead with suing the police.


Need More Advice Regarding Suing The Police?

If you believe you have been a victim of police misconduct or negligence, let our panel of expert actions against the police solicitors help. Our panel offer a completely free, no-obligation review of your case and tell you whether you are eligible to claim.

Simply fill out our Actions Against The Police enquiry form, and our panel will be right back in touch.  

Ready To Get Started? provides a free educational service to the public, and connects potential claimants with pre-vetted legal firms operating on our panel. 

Our panel of legal firms all:

  • Operate on a No-Win, No Fee Basis
  • Require No Upfront Fees
  • Are Regulated by either the FCA or SRA

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