Police compensation

Police compensation Image (c) Sri Express

The Sri Lankan Police department is considering compensating the victims of unlawful arrests or those wounded in Police custody. It's good news. But how far can the public afford the mistakes of the Police? There will be a claim every other day.

The United Kingdom is no stranger to the compensating culture. Every year millions of pounds are being awarded to victims of unlawful arrests or Police brutality. The Metropolitan Police has spent £9 million in the past six years to settle complaints over Police actions. Last year alone, the Police have investigated 6,603 complaints against the service.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that in 2010-11, the Met paid £1.1m in 72 settled civil actions; almost £600,000 in 128 settled threatened actions and £48,000 in five court awards. It is almost similar to the figures paid in 2009-10 on settled and civil actions.

A lawyer received £100,000 and an apology from the Police after his wrongful arrest in 2009. He went into a diabetic coma when an officer took his insulin following the arrest in London. The £100,000 compensation was donated to charity. He had been arrested outside the High Court in London after officers mistakenly thought he was a protester who was breaking the law. The compensation scheme is working with difficulties determining the truth with loads of false claims.

Recently, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: "Nothing will change until there is an effective Police complaints system and until officers are ready to give evidence against colleagues who are guilty of misconduct. It is important that people have faith in our investigation process and we would encourage anyone who feels we have fallen below the standards expected of us to make a complaint which will be investigated."

Once named "the best Police force in the world," now have behavioural problems among its officers. Although the Police are there to protect us they are also humans. They also make mistakes. But until you are wrongfully arrested or accused, you will never feel the real pain of an innocent person. Some Police officers misuse their power or use excessive force when dealing with situations.

In England, it is rare to see a Police officer with a baton. But some of them are equipped with Taser guns to make the accused paralysed if he or she is being difficult. Taser guns come in different forms mainly as a gun and a baton. It gives a temporary high-voltage low-current electrical discharge to override the body's muscle-triggering mechanisms. The recipient is immobilised via two metal probes connected via wires to the electroshock device. The recipient feels pain, and can be momentarily paralysed while an electric current is being applied. There were instances where it had been used unnecessarily making the victims suffer an unpleasant electric shock.

Although the London Police officers try to behave decently as much as possible, there are instances of innocent people being shot dead on the spot.

Incidents when a person got shot when he walked with a wooden table leg underneath his overcoat and an immigrant who was shot point blank on an underground train when he tried to runaway when he saw some officers are unforgettable incidents in Police history. The recent London riots ignited as a result of an unarmed black person being killed by the Police suspecting him of carrying firearms. Yes, the Police make mistakes. But the compensation of victims has to be borne by the public. There is no personal loss to the officer unless he is sacked or suspended.

It is good that a Police compensation scheme is to be established in Sri Lanka. In the UK, people are more aware of the social compensation schemes and there are organisations and companies who make it easy for the victims.

However, I doubt how the citizens are going to make use of it. Here I have to mention the motor insurance in Sri Lanka. A majority of Sri Lankan drivers do not properly understand motorcar insurance policies. Most of the time, they try to settle accidents by paying compensation to the affected party from their own pocket. Most of them are not aware that it is the obligation of the insurance company to pay on the driver's behalf even when the accident is fatal. There is no doubt that the motor insurance industry in Sri Lanka is laughing at the motorists who are settling from their own pockets. Therefore, in a situation like that, it is very important to make people knowledgeable on making a claim against the Police department. Before that, the legal professionals should be prepared to advise the victims honestly and correctly. In England, the legal fees of a compensated client is being paid by the authorities. Not the victim. He has the right to keep the full compensation for himself. Therefore, lawyers should make claimants aware of the fee structure before taking up a matter. It is important to note that victims of the Police department are not only the people arrested and harassed wrongfully, but also the people who are affected by criminals not being arrested. 

Courtesy of dailynews.lk/features

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