The latest decision of the Court of Appeal in Parker v Chief Constable of Essex Police  EWCA Civ 2788 is important for all police lawyers. The facts are quite detailed but, essentially, where the police perform an unlawful arrest (which would result in unlawful detention), the arrested person will receive only nominal damages where they could and would have been lawfully arrested had the correct procedures been followed.
There is also a second element – which is that the question of whether the police have a reasonable suspicion for the purpose of making an arrest ought to be considered in the round; courts ought not to over-compartmentalise the issue by analysing each factor separately.
The recent decision of Holmes v CC Merseyside Police  EWHC 1026 (QB) confirms the power of the police to arrest individuals who are not acting unlawfully. It relies on the earlier case of CPS v McCann  EWHC 2461;  1 Cr. App. R. 6, which held that an arresting officer was acting in the execution of their duty when making an arrest notwithstanding that their suspicion that that offences were being committed being mistaken.
The courts have given another judgment, Ahmed v Crown Prosecution Service  EWHC 1272 (Admin), which helps the police in considering what actions fall within the execution of their duty. In short, where a police officer genuinely and reasonably believes that they are authorised by a court order to arrest a person for breach of an injunction and that the person is in breach of it, they will be acting in the course of their duty if they arrest that person. Even where there is no valid injunction. Sort of. The case is not available on Bailii – possibly because it was given ex tempore. It is on Lawtel and Westlaw.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, D and H) Order 2017 came into effect on 27 February 2017. The Order brought into force three revised codes of practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (“PACE”), which supersede the pre-existing Codes of Practice. The revisions to Code C and Code H implement amendments to PACE made by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (“CJCA”), which defines a “juvenile” for the purpose of detention as a person who is under the age of 18, rather than under the age of 17. This now requires a 17 year-old to be treated as would be a 16 year-old rather than an adult of 18 years or over.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 heralds significant change to the powers of police staff and volunteers, going beyond those of Police Community Support Officers.
When the Act comes fully into force, the categories of employees with delegated powers will be streamlined from four to two: “community support officer” and “policing support officer”. The latter will cover the old categories of investigating, detention and escort officers. There are also two categories of volunteers: “community support volunteer” and “policing support volunteer”.
In relation to policing support officers and policing support volunteers, chief officers will be able to confer upon them any policing power, except for defined core powers. In other words, the position under the PRA of designation from a limited menu of powers will largely be reversed and staff could be designated with a wider variety of powers, duties and functions.