Brighton mother sues police for forcibly stripping her naked after she turned to them for help

Posted On 04 Dec 2016 at 5:31 pm

A Brighton mother is suing Sussex Police for putting her in manacles and forcibly stripping her naked after she had made a 999 call for help.

The 33-year-old woman, who was suffering from post-natal depression and feeling suicidal, repeatedly begged officers to stop.

The ordeal triggered memories of being gang-raped as a teenager, she said, in a report in the Sunday Times today (Sunday 4 December).

And the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) criticised the force for the way that it dealt with people with mental health problems. In another case the IPCC criticised Sussex Police for forcing a “spit hood” on to an 11-year-old girl with a condition similar to autism.

The mother is suing the force for false imprisonment, assault, battery and breaches of human rights and equality acts”.

The Sunday Times said: “Shocking CCTV footage shows female officers from Sussex Police pinning down the 33-year-old while her clothes and jewellery are removed.

“The woman, who spoke to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, is suing the force.

“She said: ‘I remember vividly the feeling of the moment they took off my pants. Being pinned down and stripped naked was like being raped all over again.

“‘Losing control and having to beg people to stop puts you in a position of absolute weakness. It makes you feel guilty and ashamed.’

“In a damning report on the incident, which took place in 2012, the Independent Police Complaints Commission criticised the force for having inadequate training in dealing with people with mental health issues at the time adding, ‘little appears to have changed’.

“The watchdog rejected the findings of two earlier internal reports by Sussex Police which exonerated the officers after the mother of one complained within days of her ordeal.

“The commission said the CCTV at the police station in Brighton undermined officers’ claims that the complainant had become volatile and unco-operative.

“Paul Budgen, the custody sergeant, should have faced disciplinary charges for misconduct but Sussex Police allowed him to retire during the investigation, the (IPCC) report said.”

According to the Sunday Times, the woman called 999 after a failed suicide attempt. But when officers went to her home, trouble erupted only after they tried to prevent her from using the bathroom.

She was arrested and carried out of her flat in handcuffs and leg restraints in front of her husband and placed face down in a police van.

“It felt like I was being kidnapped,” she told the Sunday Times.

She was held – naked – for 11 hours in a police cell in Brighton before being released.

The newspaper said that Sussex Police would be defending the legal claim and said that it “led the way” in its handling of people with mental health problems.

  1. Patricia Stevens Reply

    this has lost my confidence in the police i use to think they were ok but this coming to light has really made me think twice, it’s about time they wised up that poor woman is now scared for the rest of her life, and yes it was like rape for her that was absolutely disgusting behaviour on the forces part, there is a lot more i would like to say but i will go too far, i hope she get’s the compensation she deserves it.

    • Hunt Reply

      Would you allow someone who had attempted to take her life alone in a cell with cloths to make a ligature or jewelry to harm herself with ? Of course they had to take her cloths and items, not to do so would be negligent. I’m afraid that you have no idea the pressure that is imposed on the police service due to an ever failing mental health system. Unless you work in the system then you will have very little understanding of how the world works. I think the real question is why police were having to deal with this incident in the first place. As always the police are to blame and you are being sucked into a clearly motivated piece of trash journalism

  2. S Grainger Reply

    I had a complaint against custody sergeant Paul Budgen upheld after a very long complaints process and only after I had appealed. I was assured that he would undergo training regarding his treatment of detainees but it would seem that he was allowed to slip out of the back door and retire. If I can be of any help to this complainant, please get in touch.

    • Paul Bignell Reply

      Hi S Granger, I wrote the original Sunday Times article, could you possibly contact me via direct message on Twitter – @paul_bignell
      All strictly confidential


  3. Josie. Reply

    You are completely wrong. The sussex police are 100% at fault for treating a mentally ill woman in such a disgraceful way. Of course they should never have removed her clothes. She was suicidal, ill, depressed and what she needed wS not to be forcibly held down and stripped of clothes and dignity, but a policewoman should have stayed with her. That way there would have been no need to remove her clothes and if she had someone to talk to it might have helped her mentally as well.

  4. Flossie Reply

    No excuse for stripping this woman and leaving her naked. Her ability to harm herself could so EASILY have been managed with restraints. The police violence here was not acceptable if we REALLY believe we have a civilised and humane police SERVICE as distinct from a police FORCE. But maybe exasperation overruled compassion if those deployed were not simply power-tripping idiots.

  5. Zelda Davies Reply

    There is no justification for this brutal assault however at least she doesn’t live in Merseyside where the IPCC seem to turn a blind eye to this sort of thing and refuse to investigate even when it involves a child! For those unfamiliar with corrupt police and the police code of silence… stripping is a routine form of humiliation, children with mental health problems are no exception, the monsters cover for their own, shielded by a corrupt judiciary. I have the evidence and footage to back up every word I write!

  6. Stu Reply

    Normal procedure is 136 suite for mental health or trip to A&e under police guard, no room? Police have a procedure called suicide watch, were any person at risk of harm to themselves are watched closely in a half door cell with officer present at the door. So much misconduct here it’s unbelievable, why was the ambulance service not present at time of arrest?

  7. O Day Reply

    I am sure it’s not only my experience but as soon as you engage with the police in a complaint you increase the injustice suffered tenfold. The complaint procedure is governed by statute and the police are expert in exploiting the relevant laws so they can mess up your life for as long as you allow them. For the avoidance of doubt, the whole process is a sham. They will use tricks of the trade like for example record your complaint wrongly so you have no appeal rights, and/or prolong the complaint over several months or even years knowing full well that when they do eventually make a decision it will be a decision not to uphold your complaint.

    They will, if recording the complaint correctly, give you 21 days to submit an appeal which if you do they will deal with internally (i.e., another officer looking after his colleague’s best interest will be allocated the job). After wasting a year or so more of your time you will get the outcome of another sham process. You will then be informed that their decision is final and can only be challenged in the High Court. The impracticalities and the potential to lose your home to pay litigation costs is the deterrent and why they can get away with conducting sham investigations.

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will not intervene if you raise concerns about the force’s abuse of the system, neither will the Police & Crime Commissioner who is paid and elected to represent the public, because they too are sham organisations.

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