Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

Domestic violence falls within Article 3, €20,000 for failure to investigate

In Volodina v Russia (Application No 41261/17); [2019] 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.

Police liability for failures in criminal investigations

The hits for the police keep on coming. The decision in Commissioner of the Metropolis v (1) DSD (2) NBV [2018] UKSC 11 confirms that the police can be liable in proceedings for a breach of Article 3’s prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment (and possibly Article 4’s prohibition on slavery) where they fail to perform an adequate criminal investigation into alleged serious ill-treatment.

This decision was less of a surprise than Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2018] UKSC 4 – given the strength of the earlier judgments both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal. That said, it is hard to say anything other than that the courts are slowly but surely eroding out of existence the police’s ‘immunity’ from claims arising out of the performance of its core duties.

Disabled person left in police car for 12 hours a breach of Article 3, €3,000 damages

This is the first of two posts on the case from the European Court of Human Rights, Shalyavski v Bulgaria [2017] ECHR 564; (App no. 67608/11) 15.6.17, concerning breaches of Articles 3 and 8. This first one concerns damages for (arguably) detention contrary to Article 3. Where a disabled person, unable to mobilise himself, was kept by the police in a car for between eleven and twelve hours as a result of the arrest of his carer, this amounted to a breach of Article 3. Monetary damages were awarded but were typically modest.

€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.

Strip-search and cell move not unlawful

A person who was strip-searched in police custody and then moved whilst unclothed was not treated contrary to Article 3 or Article 8 where it was due to his own behaviour, the Court of Appeal has held in Yousif v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2016] EWCA Civ 364.

The appellant was originally from Iraq where he had suffered at the hands of the authorities. He had a personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoia. He had been arrested following an incident of ‘road rage’. He was taken to Paddington Green Police Station, where he remained for some 12 hours. When he was being booked into custody the appellant said ‘yes’ when asked whether he had tried to commit suicide in the past but then refused to give details or respond when asked whether he was feeling suicidal. The custody officer decided that the appellant should be stripped searched and that all of his clothes should be taken from him so that he was left naked in a cell that was constantly monitored by CCTV. During his detention he was moved from one cell to another whilst naked.