DISABLED pensioner Pamela Boxford-White has received a £9,000 payout and official apology from Wiltshire Police after being illegally locked up for seven hours.
The 72-year-old from Abbey Meads, Swindon, who has never been in trouble with the police before, was arrested and locked up after police were called to her home to deal with a dispute with her neighbour.
Despite numerous health problems which require round-the-clock care from her husband, Duncan, plus a special diet, she was locked in a cell at Swindon Police Station on June 4, 2012 while her husband was interviewed for an alleged assault.
She was unable to eat the food offered due to her diet and was unable to use the phone because it was not adapted for disabled use.
Pamela said she felt humiliated by the experience.
She is registered disabled due to numerous health problems as a result of abdominal surgery and chemotherapy, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, partial function on her left side, impaired hearing and sight, and cardiac problems She said: “I couldn’t get down on the bed because it was so low, I had to stand up to use the toilet because it was so low, and they brought me a chair to sit on where I sat for seven hours.
“I thought if this is how they treat disabled people they should think again.”
The incident happened shortly after Duncan was assaulted by his neighbour as part of a dispute, and the police turned up to arrest him.
Despite Duncan’s visible facial injuries and protests, PC Barry Geering and PC Lloyd Griffiths refused to accept he was the victim, and arrested him.
In her frustration Pamela said: “Oh Duncan, I am fed up with all this, I might as well be dead as living with this misery.”
The officers promptly arrested her for a breach of the peace, allegedly to prevent her from self-harm.
Following her time in the cells Pamela pursued a formal complaint, but when this was rejected by Wiltshire Police, she asked Iain Gould, a solicitor specialising in civil actions against the police, to pursue her case.
He said: “I argued that the arrest was unnecessary, ill-founded, and unlawful.
“I also said that the period of detention was unreasonably and unlawfully prolonged, and demanded compensation for the distress, discomfort and inconvenience, loss of liberty, and damage.”
Following the issue of court proceedings Wiltshire Police admitted false imprisonment but defended the rest of the claim, and Iain negotiated a settlement for compensation and an apology from the Chief Constable.
Iain said: “Happily, I was able to negotiate a settlement in which the Chief Constable formally apologised and paid significant compensation and legal fees.
“If the initial investigation had come to the same conclusion, Wiltshire Police could have saved themselves and the taxpayer a lot of time and expense.”
In a written apology to Pamela, Wiltshire Police said: “It is accepted that your behaviour did not, and could never, constitute a breach of the peace and therefore your arrest was unlawful and should not have occurred.
“I accept the arrest and subsequent detention must have been very distressing.
“I apologise for any adverse effect this incident has had upon you.”
Wiltshire Police were unable to give a statement, saying they do not comment on individual cases.