Police Negligence in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire
    • House of Lords
    • 28 Abr 1988

    There is no question that a police officer, like anyone else, may be liable in tort to a person who is injured as a direct result of his acts or omissions. So he may be liable in damages for assault, unlawful arrest, wrongful imprisonment and malicious prosecution, and also for negligence. Instances where liability for negligence has been established are Knightly v. Johns [1982] I W.L.R. 349 and Rigby v. Chief Constable of Northamptonshire [1985] 1 W.L.R. 1242.

    All householders are potential victims of an habitual burglar, and all females those of an habitual rapist. The conclusion must be that although there existed reasonable foreseeability of likely harm to such as Miss Hill if Sutcliffe were not identified and apprehended, there is absent from the case any such ingredient or characteristic as led to the liability of the Home Office in the Dorset Yacht case.

    In some instances the imposition of liability may lead to the exercise of a function being carried on in a detrimentally defensive frame of mind. A great deal of police time, trouble and expense might be expected to have to be put into the preparation of the defence to the action and the attendance of witnesses at the trial. The result would be a significant diversion of police manpower and attention from their most important function, that of the suppression of crime.

  • Brooks v Metropolitan Police Commisioner
    • House of Lords
    • 21 Abr 2005

    Whilst focusing on investigating crime, and the arrest of suspects, police officers would in practice be required to ensure that in every contact with a potential witness or a potential victim time and resources were deployed to avoid the risk of causing harm or offence. Such legal duties would tend to inhibit a robust approach in assessing a person as a possible suspect, witness or victim.

  • Elguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; McBrearty v Ministry of Defence
    • Court of Appeal
    • 16 Nov 1994

    In my view such a duty of care would tend to have an inhibiting effect on the discharge by the CPS of its central function of prosecuting crime. It would in some cases lead to a defensive approach by prosecutors to their multifarious duties. It would introduce a risk that prosecutors would act so as to protect themselves from claims of negligence.

  • Barrett v Enfield London Borough Council
    • House of Lords
    • 17 Jun 1999

    I further said that in an area of the law which was uncertain and developing (such as the circumstances in which a person can be held liable in negligence for the exercise of a statutory duty or power) it is not normally appropriate to strike out. In my judgment it is of great importance that such development should be on the basis of actual facts found at trial not on hypothetical facts assumed (possibly wrongly) to be true for the purpose of the strike out.

  • Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales Police
    • Supreme Court
    • 28 Ene 2015

    Tofaris and Steel in their article, Police Liability in negligence for failure to prevent crime: Time to Re-think, (Legal Studies Research Paper Series 39/2014, July 2014) define what they describe as the "omissions principle" in the following way: A is not under a duty to take care to prevent harm occurring to B through a source of danger not created by A unless either (i) A has assumed a responsibility to protect B from that danger, (ii) A has a special level of control over that source of the danger, or (iii) A's status creates an obligation to protect B from that danger.

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Books & Journal Articles
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • Supreme Court Restates When Police Forces Are Liable In Negligence
    • Mondaq UK
    • 29 de Septiembre de 2015
  • Police Investigate Alleged Harvesting Of Body Parts At Birmingham Private Hospital
    • Mondaq UK
    • 1 de Octubre de 2020
    ...... . It is reported that the bones were being collected for research in. Mr McMinn's retirement.  . Leigh Day head of clinical negligence Suzanne White. responded to the allegations. She said:.  . "These allegations are staggering. It is reported that more. than 5,000 patients have ......
  • Court of Appeal confirms no liability for UK mining company in relation to human rights abuses in Sierra Leone
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    • White & Case LLP
    • 21 de Marzo de 2020
    The Court of Appeal's recent decision in Kadie Kalma & Ors v African Minerals Ltd stands as a stark reminder of the risks and responsibilities companies bear when operating in sectors and juris...
    ......Facts. The case arises out of two episodes of police brutality against civilians in Tonkoli, a remote district in the north of ... held liable under English6 common law (in vicarious liability, negligence, procurement liability, and accessory liability) for the harm committed by ......
  • Mining company not liable for acts of police
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    • Allen & Overy LLP
    • 7 de Marzo de 2019
    This case deals with several key tortious principles relating to acts of third parties and will be of particular interest to companies in the extractive industries monitoring their exposure to huma...
    ...... Only vicarious liability, accessory liability and negligence liability are considered in this article. The case had a number of unusual features, including the fact that the English court sat in Sierra Leone ......
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