Successful compensation claim against the police for a errors made in relation to an abuse investigation
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As a young child our client suffered severe and sustained sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather and brother. Social Services intervened and removed her from the family home for her safety. Her understanding was that the police dealt with her abusers at that time.
As an adult, she found it therapeutic to write about her experiences. She also became involved with the Truth Project to share her experiences and, she hoped, to help others who had suffered abuse.
The Truth Project referred her case to the Police. She told the Police that she believed her abusers had already been dealt with by the criminal justice system while she was still a child. She said she did not want to go through everything with them and open up old wounds if there was no point because it had all been dealt with by the Police decades before. She said she was worried that being interviewed and having to go into detail about what had happened to her would have a detrimental effect on her mental health which was already fragile because of all she had suffered in her childhood.
However, the Police assured her that in fact charges had never been brought against her abusers. She felt extremely upset about this as she had spent her life dealing with the aftermath of the sexual abuse thinking that at least those responsible had faced justice.
She therefore agreed to give two interviews to the Police. This involved her recounting in painful detail the horrific abuse she had suffered as a small child. She also passed the Police a collection of her writing, which included poetry about the effects of the abuse, extracts from her Social Services records and other extremely personal documents.
She wrote to the Police shortly after the interviews to explain how much she had been struggling as the memories of the abuse had been brought to the forefront of her mind. She received a devastating reply. A new officer had taken over the investigation and had reviewed the file. That officer confirmed that our client’s abusers had in fact already been dealt with by the Police decades earlier and therefore the interviews had been entirely pointless.
Our client was appalled. She had put herself through the trauma of the interview process for nothing. As a result she suffered a deterioration in her mental health. She began having nightmares and struggled to leave the house. She could not eat or take proper care of her children.
She felt sure that her suffering would have been entirely avoided if the Police had looked into the matter properly at the outset, so she contacted us about making a compensation claim.
We agreed to deal with her case on a No Win No Fee basis. We sent a formal letter of claim to the Police alleging that they had been negligent in encouraging her to give two interviews when she had specifically asked them to check if the abusers had already been dealt with.
Fortunately the Police were quick to admit responsibility for their failings. We were then able to concentrate on assessing the impact this had on our client’s mental health with the assistance of an independent Clinical Psychologist. The psychologist confirmed that the interviews had caused our client to suffer PTSD and an Adjustment Disorder. Treatment was recommended.
Following a period of negotiation we were able to reach a satisfactory out of court settlement.