Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

Private bigotry, public discipline

A group of police officers exchange off-duty, sexist, degrading, racist, antisemitic, homophobic and disability-mocking WhatsApp group chat messages, as well posting crime scene photographs of current investigations. No crime was committed. That’s a private matter, isn’t it? No. It isn’t. So held the Second Division of the Inner House of the Court of Session in BC v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland Livingstone [2020] CSIH 61; [2020] SLT 1021 (Lord Justice Clerk (Lady Dorrian), & Lords Menzies and Malcolm).

€12,000 for failure to investigate acid attack breaching Art 2 – but were all issues considered?

In Tershana v Albania [2020] ECHR 586; (2021) 72 EHRR 13, the authorities’ failure adequately to investigate an acid attack against a woman amounted to a breach of the procedural obligation under Article 2, justifying damages of €12,000. In some ways, however, the judgment seems to be unsatisfying – citing cases that don’t quite fit the propositions stated and not examining potential breaches of Articles 3 and 14.

No interest on general damages in police actions

The Court of Appeal has reiterated, in Rees v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2021] EWCA Civ 49, that since non-pecuniary damages in civil claims against the police. e.g. for loss of liberty, or distress and inconvenience, are generally assessed by reference to all matters leading up to the judgment, there will usually be no need for an additional award of interest. A substantial award of exemplary damages – £150,000, split between three claimants, was upheld on the basis that the case had involved an egregious prosecution set in motion by an officer of very senior rank (a Detective Chief Superintendent).

Radicalisation and retention: how long can the police hold data about a person allegedly vulnerable to radicalisation?

If concerns are raised that a person might be vulnerable to radicalisation, how long can a police force hold data about that person? This was the question facing the High Court in the case of R (II) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2020] EWHC 2528 (Admin), which held that the police’s continued retention of data a sixteen year old was contrary to the Data Protection Act 2018 and Article 8. In finding this, the court held that a force’s retention of data must be proportionate, what is proportionate in any given situation is fact-specific and that when the police cease to be able to identify a policing purpose for continued retention of personal data, it should be deleted.

New Lockdown: No New Rules Yet

No new Regulations have as yet been laid before Parliament setting out the detailed wording of the new lockdown measures. The Government website states:

When you can leave home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

The Government have confirmed that the current instructions “will be put in law”. However, the circumstances in which the FPNs will now be triggered are not yet specified. Watch this space.