Police apologise to woman who was left naked in cell for THREE HOURS
Police apologise to woman who was left naked in cell for THREE HOURS after she was wrongfully arrested for sitting on roof of her car as it was about to be towed away
- Yvonne Farrell, 52, sued Hertfordshire Police for unlawful arrest in August 2018
- She was detained and left naked in a cell for three hours before her release
- Today Hertfordshire Police apologised and Ms Farrell accepted £45k in damages
Police have apologised to a woman who was left naked in a cell for three hours after she was wrongfully arrested for sitting on the roof of her car as it was about to be towed away.
Yvonne Farrell, 52, sued Hertfordshire Constabulary for unlawful arrest after she staged a sit-in on her partner’s car in Stevenage when tow-truck operators arrived to clamp it in August 2018.
Officers detained her for allegedly committing a public order offence and subsequently threatened to remove her clothing by force if she failed to cooperate with them.
When she refused to give her name, Ms Farrell was taken to a ‘camera cell’ and obliged to strip naked ‘to humiliate, distress and embarrass her with a view to forcing her to ‘confess’ her identity’, according to her lawyer.
The Rastafarian was then provided with ‘hot pants and a crop top’ but refused to wear them due to her religious and cultural belief that women should only wear long dresses.
She was thrown a blanket before her clothes were eventually returned to her and she was allowed to redress nearly three hours later, before being released after nearly 11 hours of detention.
Hertfordshire Police Professional Standards Department then rejected Ms Farrell’s complaint before she enlisted the help of solicitor Iain Gould, who specialises in claims against the police.
The lawyer pursued court proceedings claiming ‘basic, special, aggravated and exemplary damages’, and Ms Farrell was offered £45,000 in damages from the force in December – though police did not apologise.’
Today Hertfordshire Constabulary issued a grovelling apology, telling Ms Farrell ‘we got it wrong’ and saying they were ‘extremely sorry for any injuries that you suffered’ as a result of police action.
Yvonne Farrell, 52, sued Hertfordshire Constabulary for unlawful arrest after she staged a sit-in on her partner’s car in Stevenage when tow-truck operators arrived to clamp it in August 2018
Mr Gould said he was ‘delighted with the terms of the settlement’ but said ‘all of this was entirely unnecessary and amounts to a vast waste of public money and the time of everybody involved’.
He also claimed that Hertfordshire Constabulary ‘really doesn’t apologise for the most egregious and distressing thing done to Yvonne, namely her being stripped naked’.
In the letter of apology, Deputy Chief Constable, Michelle Dunn of Hertfordshire Constabulary said: ‘Having investigated the incident, I accept that you should not have been arrested. When you were in custody, the officers were unable to assess whether you were at risk of harming yourself.
‘As a result, your clothes were removed from you and you were given a ‘safety suit’ to wear to preserve your modesty and to ensure that you would not cause yourself any harm with your clothes.
‘For religious reasons you were unable to wear that safety suit and as a result, remained unclothed for a period of time. I accept that the removal of your clothes must have been very upsetting.
‘I am extremely sorry for any injuries that you suffered as a result of the actions of Hertfordshire police. On this occasion, we got it wrong. I apologise unreservedly.’
Ms Farrell had climbed onto the roof of her partner’s car when two men operating a tow truck were attempting to clamp it in August 2018.
The 52-year-old had pleaded with the men to simply allow her to roll the car less than three yards onto private land – but they refused before officers descended and dragged her off the vehicle.
Today Hertfordshire Constabulary issued a grovelling apology, telling Ms Farrell ‘we got it wrong’ and saying they were ‘extremely sorry for any injuries that you suffered’
When she refused to give them her name, Ms Farrell was taken to a ‘camera cell’ and obliged to strip naked ‘to humiliate, distress and embarrass her’, her lawyer claimed
She claimed: ‘All I remember was police cars suddenly arriving outside my home. I kept saying I had not done anything wrong.
‘This was a civil matter and the police should only be here if I have done something criminal. I said in fact you should be taking my side, I am the public, you’re supposed to be here to serve the people.’
Wearing a loose fitting summer dress and flip flops on her feet, Ms Farrell refused the officers’ request to climb down from the car before she was arrested, allegedly for committing a ‘public order offence’.
Officers grabbed hold of her arm and leg and she was dragged from the roof of the car, causing her to land awkwardly on the ground.
Ms Farrell claimed: ‘I was pulled off the car and I went down to the ground. They proceeded to handcuff me really tightly. I was in immense pain, I pleaded with them to loosen the handcuffs but they wouldn’t listen to me.
‘I was crying out in pain. They didn’t tell me where they were taking me and during the journey my dress strap kept dropping down exposing my breast.’
She refused to confirm her identity before she was thrown into a cold ‘camera cell’ and allegedly obliged by officers to remove all of her clothing – including her underwear.
A pair of ‘hot pants and a crop top’ were left in the cell but she refused to wear them due to her beliefs as a Rastafarian.
Nearly three hours later, her clothes were returned and she was allowed to redress, before she was finally released at around midnight – almost 11 hours after her arrest.
Her lawyer Mr Gould claimed: ‘This was nothing less than an act of coercion and humiliation deliberately committed against Yvonne… for the purpose of forcing her to give the Police her personal details’.
‘DCC Dunn however goes out of her way to assert that the decision to strip Yvonne of her clothes was an act of ‘safeguarding’ – and devotes the longest section of her letter to justifying this.
‘In this respect therefore, the letter contains at its heart not an apology but an excuse – suggesting that Yvonne has misunderstood the Police’s ‘good intentions’ – and hence, with that failure to accept blame for the worst abuse of Police power perpetrated against Yvonne, does not go nearly far enough.
‘As I wrote previously, senior officers and force management are often content to put money where their mouth should be; and it is hard to believe that all the right lessons will in fact be learned, when the Police still seek to deny the most serious wrong.’
Hertfordshire Constabulary has been contacted for comment.
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