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Discrimination damages

On appeal, a female claimant of mixed race, was awarded damages after being subjected to racial discrimination by police officers during her detention…

Bianca Durrant v Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset Constabulary
Court of Appeal (Sales LJ and Moylan LJ)

Executive summary

On appeal, the claimant, a female of mixed race, was awarded £14,000 in damages after being subjected to racial discrimination by police officers during her detention in police custody following her arrest on suspicion of a public order offence and assault in June 2009.

The claimant was humiliated by a significant delay in allowing her to go to the toilet. This resulted in her urinating on the floor of the holding cell in front of a group of male officers.

The award also included an uplift to take into account the long complaint investigation and litigation process which the claimant had to pursue in order to obtain vindication.


At first instance the judge found that there had been two acts of unlawful discrimination in relation to the claimant. The first finding of discrimination was that the police had focussed on arresting the claimant before arresting two white people in respect of the same incident. The second finding was that, following her arrest, the police had handcuffed her hands behind her back before placing her in a police van. On appeal she contended that further findings of discrimination should have been made and that the damages of £4,950 awarded by the first instance judge were too low.

Since the incident took place, the Equality Act 2010 had come into force. The judge was therefore required to apply the law on race discrimination as set out in the Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended) (“the Act”). Section 57 of the Act covers alleged discrimination by the police in carrying out their functions. Section 1(1)(a) of the Act defines racial discrimination as: “a person discriminates against another in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision of this Act if – (a) on racial grounds he treats that other less favourably than he treats or would treat other persons.”


On appeal, the court found a third act of racial discrimination in relation to the claimant being denied the use of the toilet at the police stationIt was therefore necessary to reconsider the amount of compensation to reflect the changed overall picture of discriminatory conduct.

The three incidents of discrimination all occurred within a few hours of each other and all related to the claimant’s arrest and detention… FULL ARTICLE