Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

Courts reluctant to strike-out negligence actions against the police

In Tindall v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police [2020] EWHC 837 (QB) — available on Westlaw but not yet Bailii or the ICLR, the courts have again demonstrated a reluctance to strike-out a police negligence claim. This shows the difficulty of trying to show whether the police have positively created a danger/made it worse or merely refrained from protecting someone. A claim against the police for negligence will usually arise in the first instance but not, subject to exceptions, the second.

Misconduct panel’s decision to impose a final written warning for racist remarks quashed by the High Court

The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police has successfully challenged a misconduct hearing panel’s decision to impose a Final Written Warning (FWW), after an officer made racist remarks about a fellow officer: R (Chief Constable of West Midlands Police) v Panel Chair, Police Misconduct Panel [2020] EWHC 1400 (Admin). The decision confirms that the High Court will be prepared to intervene where panels fail to follow the College of Policing’s Guidance on Outcomes, and that misconduct involving discrimination will be treated especially seriously.

One Kingdom but four nations emerging from lockdown at four different rates under four different laws

Laws which criminalise what would otherwise be normal daily life and which the police must enforce must be clear, unambiguous, fair and fairly applied, logical and proportionate to the public health imperative. The purpose of this blog post is to illustrate the difficulties with the amended legislation, the inconsistencies between the laws of the four nations of the UK, as well as the problems of enforcement by the police. Whatever the problems with the legislation, whatever the high profile breaches, people must socially distance and must wear masks when unable to do so. The coronavirus is not going away soon, or perhaps ever. It may be joined by other novel viruses and human life may have to change.

With greatly improving weather, and recent news of high profile breaches of the rules, the British public have decided for themselves to begin to emerge from lockdown and to start enjoy the weather. The four nations of the UK have responded to this by relaxing the lockdown regulations applicable to each of them, albeit in distinct ways, to different extents and at slightly different points in time.

Reducing restrictions, increasing inconsistency? Impact of the Lockdown Amendment Regulations on the Police’s Enforcement Ability

The ‘lockdown’ has been slightly relaxed in England but much less so in the other three nations. In England, this relaxation was announced by the Prime Minister in a nationally televised address at 7pm on a Sunday. By 7am the next day, there was considerable uncertainty as to what he meant and from when he meant things to change. The First Secretary of State, no less, had to be subsequently ‘corrected’ by his own Government after a Radio 4 interview. The more draconian the legal restrictions are, the more important it is to ensure that they are readily understood by the population, which must obey them, and by the police, who must enforce them. Otherwise, they lose much of their utility in the protection of public health. That is as true of restrictions that are relaxed as it is of the original restrictions.

Avoid frame-by-frame analysis of fast moving events and discussion of evidence in front of officers

In Goodenough v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police [2020] EWHC 695 (QB) , the High Court, Turner J, considered a claim for damages brought by Robin Goodenough’s mother and sister. The claims arose out of Mr Goodenough’s death on 27 September 2003 following a short car chase and traffic stop. The Claimants asserted that police officers had assaulted Mr Goodenough and that thereafter had been breaches of Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The case provides useful insights into the approach to be taken when conducting a judicial analysis of incidents such as this and may be relied upon by those arguing that an Art 2 inquest is required in order to meet investigative short comings.