Damages for Shropshire family assaulted by armed police officers in their own home
Two of the Arundales were unlawfully arrested when officers armed with Glocks and Tasers turned up at their home.
Two pensioners and their son have won damages after they were ‘assaulted’ by armed officers in their Shropshire home.
West Mercia Police admitted failings in the treatment of Brian and Ghislaine Arundale and their son Ralph during the incident, but no formal action has been taken against the officers involved.
The ordeal came three days after the family, who were living in Coreley, near Ludlow, reported receiving threats from a neighbour in July 2014.
Three officers, two armed with Glock pistols and Tasers, arrived at the house and told the family they had come to seize shotguns legally owned by Mr Arundale.
But shortly after police entered the family home, all three alleged they were assaulted before Mrs Arundale and her son were arrested.
West Mercia Police has now agreed to pay substantial damages to the family, who accused officers of assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, trespass and breaching the family’s human rights in the way they were treated.
But it said it disputed some of the allegations and that the officers involved had been found to have ‘no case to answer’.
The family claim Mrs Arundale was pushed down the stairs and pinned to the floor during the incident after she attempted to follow her husband upstairs when he took an officer to fetch the shotguns.
She was handcuffed and lost feeling in her left hand but paramedics were sent away by the officers. She has since been diagnosed with permanent nerve damage.
They alleged that when son Ralph tried to help his mother officers put him in cuffs and assaulted him. They also complained that one officer pulled out his pistol and threatened to shoot the family dog.
Mrs Arundale, a 67-year-old charity shop volunteer and former neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, said: “From the moment the police came into our home I was uneasy and felt intimidated by them.
“The behaviour of the police on that night was appalling. We invited them in and did everything they wanted but they were just so aggressive.
“It’s a terrible thing to be made to feel unsafe in your own home, particularly by the police.
“Every police officer we dealt with at the police station and later at the hospital was very nice to us and seemed really concerned by our injuries.
“I just don’t know what was wrong with the three officers who came to our home.
“We are obviously relieved that the force has finally admitted liability, but at the same time disappointed that so far they’ve only given us a mealy mouthed apology about the ‘the quality of service’ we received.”
Mrs Arundale and 37-year-old Ralph were taken to Hereford Police Station under arrest for assault on a police officer, but the charges were later dropped.
Mr Arundale, aged 85 and a retired quantity surveyor, said: “To see your wife and son handcuffed and taken away in a police van like criminals was awful.
“I had always thought that we could rely on the police to protect us, so being treated this way by serving police officers really makes you lose faith in the whole system.”
Mr Arundale, a former volunteer with the National Trust, said: “The whole thing was made 10 times worse when West Mercia decided that its officers weren’t guilty of misconduct.
“At the misconduct meeting the officers weren’t asked any of the questions we provided and the police ignored audio recording which clearly undermined their accounts. It just felt like a whitewash.”
West Mercia Police claimed there would be a breach of the peace if the officers did not take Brian’s shotguns away, although an official log from the on duty inspector said there was ‘little justification’ in removing the guns that night.
The force has since accepted there was no imminent risk of a breach of the peace, meaning the officers had no right to be on the Arundales’ property and the force officers used against the family was unlawful, as were the arrests of Ghislaine and Ralph.
The family’s solicitor Gus Silverman, from Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is a truly shocking case of police officers acting well beyond their powers and assaulting a family in their own home. Police officers should never try to seize property unless they are crystal clear that they are acting lawfully.
“The officers in this case seem to have thought they were dealing with a gang of dangerous criminals, rather than two pensioners and their son who had reported being harassed by their neighbours.
“Although the police have admitted legal liability they have notably failed to apologise for assaulting and falsely imprisoning Ghislaine and Ralph, or for trespassing in their home and breaching the Human Rights Act.
“Instead the police have only given my clients a bland apology for the ‘the quality of service’ they received.
“If West Mercia Police is to retain the trust of the public it serves then it must issue a full and unconditional apology without delay.”
West Mercia Police Professional Standards found that the three officers who attended the Arundales’ home had cases to answer for misconduct. However, a misconduct meeting later decided to take no formal disciplinary action against them.
Ch Supt Charles Hill, from West Mercia Police, said: “I can confirm that West Mercia Police has agreed a legal settlement in relation to an incident arising from a neighbour dispute in Coreley.
“We have settled the claim on the basis of technical legal advice and we do not accept all elements of the claimants’ case.
“Three officers involved in the case were subject to a misconduct meeting where it was found there was no case to answer, although the force has taken some learning from this incident.”