Police officers have broad powers to carry out their duties. But laws, regulations and guidance place limits on how far they can go.

If you have been treated unlawfully by the police, making a complaint is an important first step. The process can be complex, so legal advice and representation will be useful at an early stage to ensure your case is properly dealt with.

Complaints against the police should be investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) or the department concerned (depending upon the seriousness of the issue).

Your complaint may fall into one of the following categories:

  • False or wrongful imprisonment
  • Arrested without reasonable grounds
  • Excessive use of force.
  • Detention for longer than is legal
  • Wrongful arrest
  • Malicious prosecution or harassment
  • Negligence
  • Misfeasance in public office
  • Human rights abuses

It is important to take legal action early as there are time limits on bringing a case. Cases based purely on discrimination claims (e.g. race, sex) must be issued at court within six months. Complaints based around the Human Rights Act must be issued within one year. If you have been assaulted, the time limit is three years from when you were assaulted. In most other cases, the time limit is six years.