Vantaa police officer fined for unlawful overnight detention in the cells
Man was taken into custody for verbally abusing police
A Vantaa police officer has been fined for unlawful overnight holding in the cells of a verbally abusive man.
The Vantaa District Court found no legal grounds for the apprehension and overnight detention of the man, who verbally abused two police officers. The senior constable who carried out the arrest was fined 40 day-fines, worth slightly more than EUR 1,000.
The officer was convicted of misusing his official position and unlawfully arresting and detaining an individual.
The senior constable, who was on patrol with a younger colleague, noticed a car carrying too many passengers in the summer of 2002. As the officers were fining the driver, one of the "tired and emotional" backseat passengers casually informed the officers "where they could stick it".
The senior constable then told the driver and the verbally abusive man to get into the police car, where he continued writing a ticket to the driver. The drunk passenger continued insulting the officers.
At this point the officer asked the driver to visit the police station at a later date to resolve the matter of the fine. The passenger, on the other hand, was taken into custody and he spent the night in a police cell.
The Vantaa District Court agreed with the prosecution's argument that the police had no legal grounds to detain the man. The court pointed out that the law is very strict as to when a person can be arrested and held in police custody.
The law stipulates that police can detain a person, for example, if the individual's behaviour suggests that he is about to commit a crime, or that he is about to cause considerable disturbance or immediate danger to general public order and safety. The court ruled that the man's mere verbally abusive behaviour did not justify the arrest.
"According to the witnesses heard, the man never physically threatened the police, neither did he cause a disturbance to public order. His behaviour was limited to verbal threats and name-calling", the court emphasised.
He could have been given a fine for reviling an officer in the course of his duty. “This was not even a borderline case for detention, and the senior constable should have had the professional skills to have been aware of that", the court concluded.
The State and the fined senior constable are jointly liable to pay the man a hundred euros in compensation for unlawful detention.