Woman wins ten-year legal battle after being knocked over by ‘negligent’ officers

West Yorkshire Police has been deemed liable for damages over an incident in which an elderly woman was knocked to the floor during a drug arrest.

Feb 8, 2018

West Yorkshire Police has been deemed liable for damages over an incident in which an elderly woman was knocked to the floor during a drug arrest. Elizabeth Robinson claimed officers breached their duty of care to her when they knocked her over while arresting a suspected drug dealer in Huddersfield in 2008. Mrs Robinson, who was 76 at the time, was trapped underneath the two officers and the suspect, causing her to be injured. The Supreme Court has now found officers acted negligently and ruled West Yorkshire Police is liable to pay her compensation. The force has acknowledged the court’s decision. Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said: “We regret that an innocent member of the public was caught up in this incident, for which we apologise. “Officers have to make difficult split-second decisions every day and public safety is their primary consideration.” Mrs Robinson, now aged 86, was walking on Huddersfield’s Kirkgate street when the “sturdily built” officers and suspect collided with her. The officers were trying to arrest a suspected drug dealer, who backed into Mrs Robinson, causing them to fall on top of her. Huddersfield County Court initially found West Yorkshire Police had acted negligently but dismissed the claim. In 2014, London’s Court of Appeal ruled Mrs Robinson had no right to compensation as a victory for her could lead to “defensive policing”. Mrs Robinson was granted permission to appeal the verdict and brought the case to the Supreme Court. The court agreed police had a duty of care to Mrs Robinson but their failure to safeguard her amounted to a breach of this.

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