In Chief Constable of Essex Police v Transport Arendonk Bvba  EWHC 212 (QB), the High Court (Laing J) refused to strike out a claim in negligence, against the police, where the driver of a lorry carrying cargo had been arrested for drink-driving, and the cargo had been stolen during the driver’s detention at the police station. It demonstrates the continued difficulty to identify what is a police “act” or “omission” – and what amounts to the police causing a state of danger, giving rise to liability.
The Northern Ireland High Court in C (A Person under a Disability) v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland  NIQB 3 has awarded damages of £16,500 for a breach of article 3 in respect of a failure by the police to conduct a proper investigation into the reported rape of a twenty-year-old woman with Asperger’s syndrome.
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.
Where a court finds a wrongful arrest, it is often due to inadequate grounds for belief in its necessity. However, a brief judgment in Smith v Police Service for Northern Ireland  NIQB 39 is a demonstration of where there is a lack of reasonable suspicion that the person arrested has, themselves, committed the offence. Also of interest is the sum for damages – £3,550 for the unlawful arrest and ten hours’ consequent unlawful detention.
Every police officer knows they must have a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an offence in order to arrest them. But that is only half of what is required. The second element is that they must have a reasonable belief in the necessity for the person’s arrest. The recent decision of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police v MR  EWHC 888 (QB) is one of a number of recent cases where appellate judgments have sought to tighten-up what the police must show in order to prove necessity.
In the instant case, a woman ‘A’ and her partner ‘MR’ had been in a relationship for fifteen months. A complained to the police about MR, who could not be traced save for a mobile telephone number. A police officer called MR on 11 January 2010, who then attended a police station for voluntary interview on 12 January 2010. Whilst at the police station and before being interviewed, MR was arrested on suspicion of harassment. He was interviewed, photographed, and had his fingerprints and DNA samples taken. After nearly seven hours, the police released him on conditional bail. He claimed that the arrest and consequent detention was unlawful and was subsequently successful in the county-court. The Comissioner appealed to the High Court.