Two recent cases have required the High Court and Court of Appeal to consider in detail the use by local authorities of different powers contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“ASBCPA”) to limit or prevent protests that have contained a strong religious or moral element. To what extent are the courts prepared to sanction the use of these powers in relation to types of activities that perhaps would not immediately spring to mind when the words ‘anti-social behaviour’ are heard? The answer, in two words, is ‘very prepared’, judging by the decisions in the cases of Dulgerhiu v London Borough of Ealing  EWCA Civ 1490 and Birmingham City Council v Asfar  EWHC 3217 (QB).
The first case concerned a challenge to the imposition by the London Borough of Ealing of a Public Spaces Protection Order. In the second the High Court granted a final anti-social behaviour injunction, sought by Birmingham City Council under section 1 of the 2014 Act. While the cases raise real issues as to the balancing of the Human Rights Act 1998 articles 9, 10 and 11 rights of the ‘protestor’ against those affected by the protests, as will be seen the Courts have had little hesitation in approving or taking action where there was evidence of real harm being caused.
In R (AB) v Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary  EWHC 3461 (Admin), the Divisional Court considered a claim on behalf of a boy with severe learning and communication disabilities, that police had failed properly to investigate what appeared to be a disclosure by him of a sexual assault during a stay at in respite care. He argued that they had wrongly proceeded to interview him despite no witness intermediary being available and had subsequently failed to re-interview him with an intermediary. He argued that this was a breach of Article 3, and unlawful disability discrimination. The Court dismissed the claim, also giving important procedural guidance.
Last year, I wrote a post on this blog discussing a High Court judgment which held that qualified one-way costs shifting (‘QOCS’) protection does not apply automatically in proceedings where a claimant is advancing both a claim for damages for personal injury and a claim other than a claim for damages for personal injury (a ‘mixed claim’). The claimant’s appeal in in Brown v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWCA Civ 1724 has now been unanimously dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
The case of Fullick v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 1941 (QB) concerned an appeal of a Deputy Master’s order that the MET Commissioner pay the claimants’ costs in the sum of £88,356.22, following the settlement of a contemplated civil claim for damages for breach of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, negligence and misfeasance in public office. Slade J held that the Deputy Master had not erred in awarding the claimants their costs relating to the inquest because the steps taken for the purposes of it were relevant to the civil claim.
In Volodina v Russia (Application No 41261/17);  ECHR 539 the European Court of Human Rights has held that domestic violence falls within the description of inhuman or degrading treatment for the purposes of Article 3, such that where the police receive a complaint of this, they are likely to have an obligation to launch an investigation into it for the purposes of identifying and punishing the perpetrator and, possibly, to take protective measures against such further behaviour.