Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

The investigative duty and ‘historic’ allegations – when is the duty engaged?

In the same week that Dominic Raab unveiled his proposals for a new Bill of Rights, Parliament’s intent when it enacted the existing human rights framework has also been the subject of scrutiny by the Supreme Court. In the matter of an application by Margaret McQuillan for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) (Nos 1, 2 and 3) [2021] UKSC 55, the Court has provided guidance on three key matters: the extent to which the investigative duty under articles 2/3 of the European Convention of Human Rights is engaged in pre-commencement deaths (the ‘Temporal Scope Issue’); when new evidence revives the investigative obligation (the ‘Brecknell Issue’); and how courts assess the independence of investigations (the ‘Independence Issue’).

When complaints must be referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct

In R (Rose) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [2021] EWHC 875 (Admin), a businessman successfully challenged a decision not to refer his complaint to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) under the mandatory referral criteria. The High Court concluded that the chief constable  had failed to review the conduct alleged and consider whether, if substantiated, it would constitute serious corruption as defined in the (then) Independent Complaints Commission (IPCC) Statutory Guidance on the handling of complaints. Instead, he had performed an assessment of the merits which had rendered the decision not to refer the complaint unlawful. The case makes clear that complaints engaging the mandatory criteria, especially that of “serious corruption”, must be referred to the IOPC.

Sharing data with crime reduction partnerships

R (on the application of M) v Chief Constable of Sussex [2021] EWCA Civ 42 is an important decision from the Court of Appeal regarding an information sharing agreement (“ISA”) between a police force and a local business crime reduction partnership (“BCRP”). The ISA was held not to breach the Data Protection Act 2018 (“DPA”) and the sharing of information that revealed a vulnerability to child sexual exploitation (“CSE”) was held not to be in breach of data protection rights. The case indicates the approach that the courts may take when asked to scrutinise information sharing agreements and policy documents where the police seek to share data with other organisations for the purpose of reducing crime and disorder.

Discriminatory behaviour, misconduct charges and police misconduct hearings

The question of how misconduct proceedings should address allegations of discrimination or harassment has now been the subject of a handful of High Court decisions. What falls from them is the importance of the misconduct allegations setting out the specific heads of discriminatory behaviour said to have been committed, whether such conduct is deliberate or accidental, and the effect of such behaviour. This blog post reviews those cases and their relevance to how future misconduct proceedings are presented, defended and determined.

Article 2 inquest not required where police failures had already been fully investigated

In R (Grice) v HM Senior Coroner of Brighton and Hove [2020] EWHC 3581, the High Court has summarised the scope of the requirements under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) for an effective investigation into alleged failures of the police to protect life. The question arose where a coroner had refused to re-open the inquest into the murder of a woman by her former partner after the police had mishandled her complaints of stalking. While the criminal trial by itself had not satisfied the Article 2 investigative obligation, it had been met by the combination of the criminal trial and the four subsequent investigations of police conduct.