Some time ago I did a post on locks and keys, and it is one of the posts on this blog which regularly attracts new comments, even though it was written quite a while ago.
One of the recent comments is rather worrying. It is from Karen who says
I recently changed the locks on the flat that I rent as the Landlords family were letting themselves in whenever they wanted. Today the Landlord tried to gain access again and as I was in I called the Police. The Police immediately took the Landlords side and the officer himself changed the lock giving a key to the Landlord and telling me that if I changed it back I would be arrested. What can I do?
This of course bears out what Ben has been saying week in week out in his TRO Confidential posts, and which we can also see from the case of Naughton v. Whittle and Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.
In that case, Mr Naughton called the police to help him when his landlord was unlawfully evicting him. However, the Officer took the landlords side, threatened him with arrest for breach of the peace, and physically removed him from the property. Mr Naughton sued, and they settled the claim for a payment of £2,500.
What should you do if, like in Karen’s case, the Police take the landlords side? I think you should do SOMETHING, as if no-one ever challenges the Police, they are not going to change.
Probably in a case like Karen’s, you should write, making a formal complaint. There is quite a bit of information on the Independent Police Complaints Commission website although I note that they don’t make financial awards. If that does not work, try a solicitors letter and threat of a legal claim.
You won’t get all of this, but a possible list of things to ask for includes:
- An apology
- Confirmation that the Officer concerned was in the wrong and will be reprimanded
- Confirmation that if you protect your right to privacy (as set out in the covenant of quiet enjoyment in your tenancy agreement) in future, by changing the locks, the Police will not interfere again
- A letter to this effect for you to show any Officers who may be called by the landlord in future, and
- Financial compensation for the distress and humiliation suffered in circumstances where you were fully in the right
It would also be an idea to refer them to the Naughton case – perhaps provide a copy of the report on this blog and also the report on the Nearly Legal blog – just in case they deny that they are in the wrong. Which may well be their reaction.
Does anyone have experience in dealing with complaints against the Police for matters such as this?