Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

A higher test of necessity for arrest?

In Rashid v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2020] EWHC 2522 (QB) the High Court (Lavender J) has allowed an appeal against a Recorder’s decision to dismiss a general practitioner’s claim for wrongful arrest, on the basis that the officers involved lacked reasonable grounds for believing the arrest was necessary. It follows recent cases in articulating a higher bar for the police to show reasonable grounds for necessity to arrest than perhaps had been thought to apply. It also raises interesting arguments about whether any other defences, such as the “Lumba/Parker” issue or ex turpi causa (the defence of illegality) might be available where an arrest has been unlawful.

If an Englishman’s home is his castle, his clothes are his suit of armour

Pile v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2020] EWHC 2472 (QB) concerned what many might consider to be the tail end of just another good night out. The claimant got into a taxi on 22 April 2017, in an advanced state of intoxication, and the taxi driver rang 999 to report that she had started abusing him and ‘kicking off’. She vomited all over herself and over the back of the taxi. Officers responding to this unfortunate misunderstanding found her covered in vomit, including in her hair. They arrested her for the offence of being drunk and disorderly. At the police station, Ms Pile was flailing her arms with the intention of striking the officers accompanying her. She later accepted a £60 fixed penalty notice as an alternative to being prosecuted. For many, the story would have ended there…

Minimum requirements under article 3 for rape investigation; €7,000 awarded for breach

In Y v Bulgaria [2020] ECHR 163, the European Court of Human Rights set out the minimum requirements for criminal investigations where a person has been subjected to ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 and held that those principles were properly derived from cases involving breaches of Article 2, despite their different content and rationale. Here, the court found a breach of Article 3 in respect of the authorities’ failure to pursue an obvious line of enquiry in a rape investigation and awarded €7,000. It is an example how an investigation can be satisfactory in several respects but still fail to comply with the minimum requirements of Article 3. It is also worth comparing with the bands of damages that English cases have suggested.

An insight into the relevance of insight in misconduct outcomes

If a police officer facing professional disciplinary proceedings disputes the misconduct allegations and continues to do so even after a finding of gross misconduct, can the misconduct hearing conclude that that the officer lacks insight and remorse – and impose a higher disciplinary sanction? The case of General Medical Council v Awan [2020] EWHC 1553 (Admin) from the medical regulatory tribunals suggest that such a conclusion should not be reached automatically, although a continued denial of the findings may well be a relevant consideration.

Whilst professional disciplinary proceedings brought by the General Medical Council (‘the GMC’) against doctors are based on a different regulatory regime, the general principles underpinning those proceedings are equally applicable to police misconduct hearings.

Let’s face it: use of automated facial recognition technology by the police

The case of R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police & Information Commissioner [2020] EWCA Civ 1058 (handed down on 11 August 2020) was an appeal from what is said to have been the first claim brought before a court anywhere on planet earth concerning the use by police of automated facial recognition (“AFR”) technology. There could be nothing wrong with posting scores of police officers with eidetic memories to look out for up to a 800 wanted persons at public gatherings. So why not use a powerful computer, capable of matching 50 faces a second with a database of (under) 800 suspects, to do this job much more cheaply and instantaneously, flagging any matches to a human operator for final assessment? According to the Court of Appeal in Bridges, this system constitutes an interference with Article 8 rights which is not such as is in accordance with the law, but which (critically) would be proportionate if a sufficiently narrow local policy were framed.

The system in use in South Wales will require a more rigorous local policy to be put in place which reduces the breadth of discretion available to individual officers as to who and (connectedly) where may be targeted for the use of AFR, as well as sufficient impact assessments, pursuant to the Equality Act 2010 and DPA 2018, and a sufficient DPA 2018 policy statement.