Police officer sacked and damages recovered for harassment

Judith Thompson  28-03-2023

Samuels Solicitors has recovered damages for a client who was harassed by a serving Devon & Cornwall police officer. 

Our client's friend called the police in 2019 because she was being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. The police officer who attended to investigate took our client's full contact details. The same evening the police officer started sending our client inappropriate and personal text messages. A few days later, when he was out of uniform, he came to our client's home and knocked on the door, but our client was too terrified to answer.

He continued to send her inappropriate messages, and to repeatedly appear at her place of work in a rural village. Our client, who was in a vulnerable position as a victim of stalking by her ex boyfriend, quite understandably felt intimidated and harassed by the actions of this police officer. 

The impact of the harassment was devastating. Our client felt so insecure in her own home, that she sold up and moved to a different town. She also changed her job.

In late 2020, the police officer was sacked for gross misconduct and he was barred from working with the police in future. 

In early 2021, our client decided to bring a claim for damages against Devon & Cornwall Police. There was no doubt that she had been harassed by the police officer, and the police force themselves had already dismissed him because of his actions. Despite this, the police did not treat her claim with any sense of urgency, which added significantly to her distress. 

Requests for documents from the police were met with delay after delay and after waiting a year, when only a fraction of the documents requested had been provided, our client became incredibly frustrated. 

It was only when we told the police we had drafted court proceedings, and were about to start the claim in court, that they took some action. At first, they made a very low and derisory offer, which was rejected. After many further delays, the police finally agreed to apologise to our client, and to pay a five-figure sum for damages and costs. 

Judith Thompson, a partner at Samuels who deals with cases of stalking and harassment, says: "There has been a great deal in the news about appalling behaviour towards women by Metropolitan Police officers, and there is a risk that this could be seen as just a 'London problem'. This is clearly not true, and sadly, in every police force up and down the country, there are likely to be officers abusing their position to take advantage of vulnerable women. This is not the first case of this type that I have dealt with against Devon & Cornwall Police and I doubt whether it will be the last".

If you have been stalked or harassed by a police officer, we can help you through every step of the process to ensure that disciplinary action is taken against the officer, and to recover compensation. 

Contact us today to speak to Judith or one of her team about how we can help. 

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