The case of McCarthy v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2016] EWCA Civ 1257 provides an interesting analysis of the tort of battery, trespass ab initio and use of reasonable force relating to use of a taser in a policing context. The Court of Appeal judgments provide clear recognition of the difficulties and realities faced by police officers in the context of fast moving, violent incidents in which fine judgments are difficult and provide important guidance as to the correct factual and legal approach in such cases.

On some legal databases, it appears that paragraphs 19B-D of the Police Reform Act 2002 (PRA) have been repealed and that paragraph 19A has been replaced. The problem with this is (i) that the replacement provides for no severity assessment to be reformed and (ii) contrary to what appears on some legal databases, the paragraphs have not, actually, been repealed or replaced (yet). 

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, D and H) Order 2017 came into effect on 27 February 2017. The Order brought into force three revised codes of practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (“PACE”), which supersede the pre-existing Codes of Practice. The revisions to Code C and Code H implement amendments to PACE made by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (“CJCA”), which defines a “juvenile” for the purpose of detention as a person who is under the age of 18, rather than under the age of 17. This now requires a 17 year-old to be treated as would be a 16 year-old rather than an adult of 18 years or over.

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 heralds significant change to the powers of police staff and volunteers, going beyond those of Police Community Support Officers. 

When the Act comes fully into force, the categories of employees with delegated powers will be streamlined from four to two: “community support officer” and “policing support officer”. The latter will cover the old categories of investigating, detention and escort officers. There are also two categories of volunteers: “community support volunteer” and “policing support volunteer”.

In relation to policing support officers and policing support volunteers, chief officers will be able to confer upon them any policing power, except for defined core powers. In other words, the position under the PRA of designation from a limited menu of powers will largely be reversed and staff could be designated with a wider variety of powers, duties and functions.

Mark Ley Morgan successfully acted for the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police at first instance and on appeal in Frugal v Nottinghamshire Police [2017] EWCA Civ 86 - a civil action concerning arrest and detention.

Many police practitioners will pause on learning that they are instructed in a case involving an arrest for breach of the peace. The reason being - that the law on when an arrest can be made is not always well understood by arresting officers. That is not to be discourteous to the police. Rather, it is a recognition of how complicated this issue can be. The Supreme Court in the case of R (Hicks) v Comr Metropolitan Police [2017] UKSC 9 gives some assistance to the police where they seek to arrest persons in light of an imminent breach of the peace and provides a simpler statement of the law than did the Court of Appeal.

It is not uncommon for police officers to state justify the necessity of an arrest by reference to PACE s24(5)(e) - to allow the prompt and effective investigation of an offence or the conduct of the person in question. The case of R (TL) v Chief Constable of Surrey [2017] EWHC 129 (Admin) considers the extent to which this permits arrest for the purpose of imposing bail conditions and conducting a search.

The value of a Coroner’s inquest in opening up matters to public scrutiny is clearly demonstrated by this highly unusual application by the Chief Executive of the IPCC in R (IPCC) v IPCC [2016] EWHC 2993 (Admin) who, following a searching inquest, brought proceedings against his own organisation to overturn its flawed report into police conduct.

The Police Appeals Tribunal should take care not to go behind clearly expressed statements made by police hearings tribunals. It should also take care as to the order of witnesses where hearsay evidence is being admitted: Squire v (1) The Queen (CC Thames Valley Police) (2) PAT [2016] EWCA Civ 1315.

Senior Coroners still smarting from being described as holding "a relatively lower judicial office” by Mr Justice Singh in the Norfolk Coroner v AAIB case last month have now been dealt a second blow by Cranston J when he made it very clear in Secretary of State for the Home Dept v Senior Coroner for Surrey [2016] EWHC 3001 (Admin) that not only are Senior Coroners, as a category, not among those able to see sensitive material related to issues of national security, but that the Secretary of State can rely upon the assertion of a general policy not to provide Coroners with such material and so does not have to provide any evidence that disclosure to the particular Coroner will in itself result in a real risk of serious harm to national security.