Essex

Essex arrest error woman gets pay-out from police

Beverly Bennett was wrongly accused of leaving a garage without paying for fuel
Image caption Beverly Bennett was wrongly accused of not paying for fuel

A woman has received compensation from Essex Police after a series of errors led to her being arrested and imprisoned.

Beverly Bennett, 58, was about to drive her mother to a cancer clinic in June 2010 when she was accused of leaving a filling station without paying.

Mrs Bennett, of Grays, was held in a police cell for several hours, during which her unattended car was stolen.

Essex Police apologised and said the mistake was due to human error.

Mrs Bennett was arrested on suspicion of theft on 24 June as she was driving along the A13 in her Honda Accord to collect her mother to take her to King George Hospital in Ilford.

While she was held at Grays police station, officers established her vehicle had been wrongly identified because of a catalogue of errors.

'Immune from prosecution'

CCTV footage seized four weeks earlier had not been viewed and when it was, after Mrs Bennett's arrest, it showed she had paid for her petrol.

Tesco staff at the Chadwell St Mary filling station had also told police the suspect was a man and this was not entered on the crime report.

Mrs Bennett was eventually released and returned to the A13 to collect her car, only to find that it had been stolen.

Police denied liability on the basis that the police are immune from prosecution, even in negligence claims.

However, after negotiation, the force agreed to pay Mrs Bennett undisclosed damages and her legal costs.

Her solicitor, police claims specialist Iain Gould, said: "There was an embarrassing catalogue of errors which led to Mrs Bennett's arrest, and yet the police were able to rely on established case law to deny liability."

Essex Police said: "An investigation has concluded that when crime details were recorded on Essex Police's systems vital detail was missed.

"This was human error and the member of staff concerned has been spoken to."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites