Lincolnshire Police have to pay £4,000 to a man who taunted the force online after officers damaged his caravan during a search for him — while he was in police custody already.
A warrant was issued by Lincoln Magistrates Court on December 21, 2018 for the arrest of Philip Carter, who was wanted for a breach of a court order that day.
Lincolnshire Police officers searched his residential caravan in Gayton le Marsh, Alford, looking for him in relation to the warrant almost 10 months later on October 10, 2019.
But Mr Carter was not at the caravan at the time and had presented himself to police’s custody suite the day before at 8.45pm.
Police said he was arrested and had been wanted after his release from prison for failing to comply with a supervision requirement.
After police published a wanted appeal to help locate him, Carter shared it on his own Facebook page.
He even taunted the force on a post about a missing boy by saying: “Hope you are better at finding him than you are me otherwise I suggest his parents hire private detectives”.
After his release from custody, he got back to his caravan and found it had been severely damaged and left insecure.
His neighbour told him the damage was done by police officers and had been captured on CCTV whilst Carter was in custody.
Carter lodged a complaint with Lincolnshire Police, which was investigated by the force in relation to four allegations. Irvings Law, a national specialist actions against the police and data protection law firm, took on his case.
The allegations were entering the premises with no legal power, causing significant damage, searching his drawers with no legal power and leaving his property insecure.
Management action was taken against two officers as a result. Although disappointed by this outcome, Mr Carter chose not to appeal and to instead focus on his compensation claim.
He did some temporary repairs to the caravan to make it liveable until his claim was concluded. The settlement was later achieved after he accepted Lincolnshire Police’s offer of £4,000 plus his legal costs.
It is understood the investigating officer told the complainant that the officers involved should have checked the Police National Computer, which would have shown that he was in custody and not at his address.
The officers should also have left documents to show that they had forced entry prior to leaving, and for this the investigator offered his apologies to Mr Carter.
Detective Superintendent Suzanne Davies of Lincolnshire Police said: “A complaint was received from Mr Carter which was investigated by the Professional Standards Department and two officers were given management action.
“This involved a debrief of the incident with a senior officer to review the circumstances of their attendance at the scene and their actions to ensure both officers learn from this complaint to prevent it happening again.
“I would like to offer Mr Carter my apologies for the upset caused.”
Matthew McConville, of Irvings Law, represented Mr Carter in the claim against Lincolnshire Police.
He said: “It goes without saying that Mr Carter (and the public in general) have the right to expect integrity in the police service and should have confidence in police officers to act in a professional manner.
“Unfortunately, there has been a definite shortfall in the service that Mr Carter has received from Lincolnshire Constabulary in this incident and there are grave concerns over how it has been dealt with as a whole.
“Further to this, although this should never have occurred in the first place, I welcome Lincolnshire Constabulary’s decision to give management advice to the police officers involved and thereafter swiftly accept liability for infringing Mr Carter’s human rights and unlawfully trespassing upon his property to prevent an unnecessary waste of significant legal costs at the public’s expense.”