Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

Arrest for breach of the peace

Many police practitioners will pause on learning that they are instructed in a case involving an arrest for breach of the peace. The reason being – that the law on when an arrest can be made is not always well understood by arresting officers. That is not to be discourteous to the police. Rather, it is a recognition of how complicated this issue can be. The Supreme Court in the case of R (Hicks) v Comr Metropolitan Police [2017] UKSC 9 gives some assistance to the police where they seek to arrest persons in light of an imminent breach of the peace and provides a simpler statement of the law than did the Court of Appeal.

Necessity of arrest for imposing bail conditions and conducting a s18 search

It is not uncommon for police officers to justify the necessity of an arrest by reference to PACE s24(5)(e) – to allow the prompt and effective investigation of an offence or the conduct of the person in question. The case of R (TL) v Chief Constable of Surrey [2017] EWHC 129 (Admin) considers the extent to which this permits arrest for the purpose of imposing bail conditions and conducting a search.

€10,000 for excessive force during arrest (and subsequent failure to investigate this)

In Gedrimas v Lithuania [2016] ECHR 641; (2017) 64 EHRR 14, the European Court of Human Rights held that where police officers used excessive force during an arrest and there was a subsequent failure to investigate the resulting complaint, both matters amounted to a breach of Article 3, justifying damages of €10,000. The case follows the recent decision of Bouyid v Belgium [2015] ECHR 819; (2016) 62 EHRR 32, which held that any use of force by police officers which is not strictly necessary will amount to a breach of Article 3.

Words on arrest

  • It is not an essential condition of a lawful arrest that a constable should verbally formulate a charge.
  • What is required is that the arrested person be told the act for which they are being arrested.