The Guardian … consumer champions section :
Can you help me get my money back – not from a big company but from the Metropolitan police? In March, they called me because a 90-year-old man I try to help was not answering his doorbell. The police had been called because he hadn’t turned up at his book group. They forced their way in and found the man safe in bed, as I had predicted they would.
The PC who was there then asked me to cover the costs of an emergency response team to make safe his front door. I was told I would be reimbursed and would be sent a claim form. Trying to be helpful, and having checked and double-checked with the constable that I would be reimbursed, I duly made a card payment to the emergency response team for £960.
Two months and many phone calls and letters later, and the Met is refusing to reimburse me. My claim has been repeatedly rejected because there was no negligence on behalf of the Met, which acted according to the law. I am not seeking to prove negligence or claiming their behaviour was unlawful – I just want to be reimbursed as I was promised by the PC whose name I took down.
I feel I have been misled and tricked into making this payment under false pretences. The Met said I should take this up with the constable concerned, which is patently absurd.
This has to be one of the more unusual letters sent to us, and our first reaction was this had to be a mistake. However, the correspondence has borne out your story, and the Met is still refusing to reimburse you.
It’s hard not to agree you have been seriously misled by the PC in question, who clearly didn’t know what she was doing. It seems odd that you would even be asked to cover this cost, given that this type of thing must happen all the time.
The Met declined to talk to us about this, claiming it does not comment on individual cases. It confirmed there is no entitlement to compensation in cases where the entry was “lawful and proportionate”. It has now agreed to again contact you directly.
That leaves you understandably frustrated that you have lost £960 on the say-so of a police officer. You may have to get the man to claim on his home insurance, if he has any, or pay you directly. You have told us he is furious about the incident and will be unlikely to cooperate.
The Met police has an appeals procedure, which may be worth exploring. This is a bizarre case that doesn’t reflect well on London’s police service.