An East Kilbride mum who claims she was assaulted, threatened and handcuffed by plain-clothed police has received £25,000 in compensation.
The 32-year-old victim has been left suffering from PTSD after the terrifying night-time raid by three male serving officers – one of whom was heavily tattooed – in a case of mistaken identity.
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She and her lawyer have now launched a scathing attack on Police Scotland over the incident, accusing the force of a five-year campaign of “obstruction and chicanery” in a bid to stop the truth coming out.
We can reveal solicitors even had to serve a legal notice on Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone to secure the release of vital documents which were being withheld.
The mum-of-one said: “I was a young woman on my own at night and three men forced their way into my home, assaulted and handcuffed me.
“I didn’t know these men were police officers, I thought my life was in danger.
“You think people who end up in these situations must have done something wrong – but if it can
happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
“It has taken five years to win this compensation and even that has clearly been given through gritted teeth and fear of a very embarrassing court case. They still haven’t accepted any liability.
“I have never received a proper apology for what I went through. To my knowledge, the officers have never been disciplined.
“At every turn they wanted to cover their tracks and senior managers seem to have wanted to protect them rather than protect the public.
“It is terrifying and frankly disgusting – it makes me wonder whether women out there are safe with the police.”
In an official complaint to watchdogs, the victim told how she was twice forcibly knocked to the ground during the incident.
She claims she was taunted as a “f****** nutjob” by an officer who read a sensitive letter about an NHS appointment.
She alleges one of the officers damaged her vulnerable son’s bedroom looking for a criminal she had never heard of, despite not having a search or an arrest warrant.
Watchdog the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) found serious failings in the way the woman’s complaint was handled.
It highlighted how one of the officers involved had given a differing account of the incident.
And it emerged in their report one of the men had previously been accused of manhandling a woman in a separate incident but this wasn’t taken into account.
Senior lawyer Joel Shaw, from Thompson’s Solicitors, handled the victim’s case.
He said: “When our client first came to us, she had been let down at every turn.
“This was a highly complex case and I am extremely pleased our client has been vindicated and compensated for her disgraceful treatment by Police Scotland.
“Throughout this entire debacle, her efforts to clear her name have been hampered at every turn by the obstruction and chicanery of Police Scotland.
“Indeed, the behaviour of the force was so outrageous we had use legal means against the Chief Constable just to obtain documents relating to our client.”
The mum had attended a funeral and returned to her East Kilbride home on the night of the incident in November 2016.
That week she had read a story in her local newspaper highlighting a spate of incidents involving a gang posing as police officers to steal cars. At about 8.30pm she heard a knock at the front door of her three-storey townhouse.
When the men at the door said they were from Police Scotland, she went to an upstairs bedroom and saw three men in tracksuits, one with tattoos on his lower arm.
She said: “It really wasn’t what I expected police to look like, even though they were saying they were the police.
“I was utterly terrified, I thought I was in serious danger. They were swearing, banging on the door and demanding to be let into the house.
“I decided I was going to go out the back and try to get over to the Scotmid shop to safety.
“I started to run, it was dark and it had been snowing. I was in my pyjamas and socks.
“The next thing I knew, I was struck by something on the back of the legs and fell face down on the ground with my arms being twisted up my back, it was agony.
“I remember screaming, ‘Help, phone the police,’ as I was dragged through my back door into the kitchen in handcuffs.
“It felt like a nightmare. I was leaning against the radiator but had my legs swept away by one of them and landed on the floor, then I was pulled up again.
“They kept calling me Chloe and asking me to give up someone. One of them went into my son’s bedroom, who was luckily staying with grandparents.
“One went through my handbag and found a letter from the NHS about a medical appointment for anxiety, which I have suffered from since my son was born prematurely and needed several operations.
“It confirmed my identity and I think that was when they realised something had gone badly wrong.”
The woman went to hospital the next day with injuries to the back of her head and legs.
But a criminal inquiry was dropped when the officers denied the woman’s version of events and an internal standards investigation cleared them. But a PIRC probe found serious failures in the handling of the woman’s complaint.
It was after this, in 2019, the victim contacted Thompson’s Solicitors, who took up her case.
Scottish Conservative shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay said: “Dame Elish Angiolini has already laid bare the reality of Scotland’s broken police complaints system.
“Law-abiding members of the public who suffer wrongdoing often experience a cynical process of legal attrition and bad faith. This only serves to damage public confidence in policing.
“On Thursday the SNP government issued an interim report on Dame Elish’s 111 recommendations which revealed that just 19 has been met.”
A police spokesman said: “We acknowledge more information could have been provided in our initial response and we wrote to the complainer in December 2019 to provide further information and apologise for the distress caused.”
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