In Goodenough v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police  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.
In LXD and Ors v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police  EWHC 1685 (Admin), the Administrative Court found that the police had not breached its obligations under Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in its response to a threat to kill LXD and her children. Dingemans J, as he then was, encouraged mediation where the recipient of such a threat sought to challenge the adequacy of the police’s risk assessment or the protective measures that the police have put in place. The judge also questioned the appropriateness of a claim for judicial review being brought in these circumstances, which are likely to involve disputes of fact.
In Griffiths v (1) Chief Constable of Suffolk (2) Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 2538 (QB), the High Court dismissed claims that the Chief Constable and the NHS Trust were negligent in breaching their duties of care or had breached human rights. The case is interesting for reaffirming three points:
i. the law will generally not impose liability on a defendant for failing to prevent harm caused by someone else;
ii. obligations under Article 2 (right to life) or Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) will not arise where the institution does not know of a real risk that those rights would be breached; and
iii. where there is a protective duty in respect of ECHR, Articles 2 or 3, a breach of Article 8 (respect for private and family life) cannot succeed where Articles 2 or 3 are not themselves breached.
R (Birks) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 807 (Admin) is the case of an officer who wanted to resign in order to take up a position as a minister in the Church of England. He was suspended and not permitted to resign, so that the IPCC (as it then was) could investigate his conduct in connection with the arrest of Sean Rigg who died in custody at Brixton Police Station in 2008.
Before the “former officer” provisions were introduced by the Police (Conduct, Complaints and Misconduct and Appeal Tribunal) (Amendment) Regulations 2017, the IPCC could investigate the conduct of an officer, serving or retired but a case to answer decision and disciplinary proceedings could only be taken in relation to a serving officer. In 2003, the Home Secretary issued guidance (Circular 55/2003) to the effect that the power to suspend could be used to prevent a resignation and thereby ensure the completion of disciplinary proceedings. If an officer was suspended, they had to seek the permission of their Chief Officer to resign or retire.
In PC Birks’ case, his resignation had been accepted by the Metropolitan Police in 2014, notwithstanding the new IPCC investigation. But this acceptance was rescinded, under pressure from the IPCC and Mr Rigg’s sister – and PC Birks was suspended precisely to prevent him from resigning. PC Birks first challenged this in a judicial review claim. He alleged that that being required to remain a police officer breached Article 8 (privacy) and Article 9 (religion) of his Convention Rights. Further, that it amounted to an unlawful departure from a substantive legitimate expectation because the Metropolitan Police had already accepted his resignation.
In February 2017, there was something of a falling out between the police and the IPCC regarding post-incident procedures when police firearms are deployed. Reasonable arguments were made on all sides, robustly and publicly.
Shortly before his retirement as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe gave a speech calling for “less suspicion and more trust” in firearms officers. He raised a concern, also raised by the Police Federation, about officers being deterred from volunteering and training for firearms duty by the threat of being treated as a suspect when they discharge firearms on duty and then being the subject of lengthy investigations. He also said, “we can’t afford to have officers think twice because they fear the consequences of shooting someone. That’s how they get shot or the public gets hurt or a criminal gets away with a gun.”