Actions Against the Police – What is Police Misconduct?
Police misconduct is any action, which is undertaken by a law enforcement officer, which could be seen to be unethical, against established employment guidelines, unconstitutional or criminal.
Depending on the severity of the misconduct, punishment could result in suspension, demotion, termination of employment or a prison sentence.
There are numerous different examples of police misconduct including:
- Types of misconduct include
- Coerced false confession
- False arrest
- False imprisonment
- Falsification of evidence
- Spoliation of evidence
- Police perjury
- Witness tampering
- Police brutality
- Police corruption
- Racial profiling
- Unwarranted surveillance
- Unwarranted searches
- Unwarranted seizure of property
- Selective enforcement/racial discrimination
- Sexual misconduct
- Off-duty misconduct
- Alcohol or drugs while on duty
The police force has to abide by certain rules of conduct when dealing with the public at their level of authority. Because of this, accusations of misconduct are taken very seriously and, in a guilty verdict, the penalties are severe.
Famous examples of police misconduct
While this type of carries on in different guises, there have been some very high profile cases of police misconduct. The Stephen Lawrence case was beset by accusations of police misconduct over claims of institutionalised racism and withholding evidence. Allegations in a BBC investigation that the Detective Sergeant John Davidson was receiving large amounts of money from one of the suspect’s father to obstruct the case went largely unfounded in an inquiry and subsequent review of the case. Regardless, the fall out of the whole affair led to a breakdown in the trust between minority ethnic communities with the police.
Hillsborough is another example of police misconduct, namely the eventual admittance from the South Yorkshire police chief superintendent David Duckenfield that he had covered up police failings in the handling of crowds at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in April 1989. His lies formed the smear campaign against Liverpool fans, and gave the rise to the belief that it was yobbish behaviour and drunkenness in the stands that led to the deaths of the 96 fans.
It took well over two decades before the Independent Police Complaints Commission Investigation found the police guilty of compromising crowd safety, altering records and providing false evidence. On April 2016, a jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in respect of all 96 fans.
What happens if you feel you’ve been a victim of police misconduct?
If you feel you have been a victim of police misconduct, it is recommended that you seek legal advice straightaway. A lawyer will be able to help you understand what exactly constitutes police misconduct, list your options for reporting it, amass evidence and help you understand you understand your goals.
Your allegations against the police isn’t a David and Goliath situation. There are services and a public body set up to deal with these types of allegations. Police misconduct is treated very seriously.
DPP Law solicitors are available whenever you need to speak to someone about police misconduct. Contact us today to see how we can help you form a case.