NTC and Others v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeHis Honour Judge Curran,NO
Judgment Date22 May 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] EWHC 1432 (QB)
CourtQueen's Bench Division
Docket NumberClaim No. HQ12X02921
Date22 May 2015

[2015] EWHC 1432 (QB)



Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


His Honour Judge Curran Qc Sitting as a Judge of the High Court

Claim No. HQ12X02921

(1) NTC
(2) DSC (A minor by his litigation friend NTC)
(3) SSC (A minor by her litigation friend NTC)
(4) SRC
The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis

Alison Gerry (instructed by Saunders Law Ltd) for the Claimants

Sophie Mortimer (instructed by Weightmans) for the Defendant

Hearing dates: May 5,6,7,8, 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15, 2015

Approved Judgment

I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.



The claims in this case were the subject of a trial by jury. They arose out of events on 19 July 2009 when armed police attended a block of flats in Townmead Road, Fulham, where the First to Third Claimants were living, at a time when the Fourth Claimant was visiting them. The police were looking for a white man who had been reported by a member of the public ("the informant") to have been on a balcony to one of the flats, holding a firearm. The man had been positively identified by the informant to plain clothes police officers who had gone to the scene in an unmarked car. The suspect was pointed out by her to those officers as he stood on the balcony of the first-floor flat on the right of the communal stairwell ("the suspect flat.") The Claimants' flat, and its balcony, were also on the first floor but on the opposite side of the stairwell. Thus the Claimants' flat was the first floor flat on the left of the stairwell.


The plain clothes officers confirmed the genuine nature of the report to the uniformed duty inspector for the area, Inspector Lisa Renwick, who called for armed officers to attend, and briefed them at a rendezvous point ("the RVP"). Her unchallenged and uncontradicted evidence was that she passed on the correct and accurate information in respect of the location of the suspect flat. The armed officers approached the block, some of them operating as a "containment" unit, to cover the exterior of the premises, offering cover and protection to their colleagues and any members of the public who required it. Another group of officers formed themselves into what they termed a "stick" with the purpose of going inside the block of flats to identify the precise location of the suspect flat from the inside, to obtain entry and to arrest the suspect.

The Claimants' case


The Claimants said in evidence that some of the containment officers, PCs King and Burden pointed their firearms towards the balcony of their flat, and towards them, while they were on the balcony and shouted demands to the First and Fourth Claimant to keep their hands above their heads. They also said that the First and Fourth Claimants were instructed by the containment officers to hold up the children (the Second Claimant aged 8, and the Third Claimant aged 4) so that they were in view of, and they believed in the line of fire of, the armed officers. That amounted to the conduct alleged to be an assault covered by the first two questions to the jury.


Thereafter the armed officers in the "stick" entered the Claimants' flat, and the Claimants alleged that they were then required by the armed police to remain in one room in the flat, gathered on the sofa, while the flat was searched. During this time they said that one police officer remained with them with his firearm pointing at them. These allegations gave rise to the other questions put to the jury which covered trespass, false imprisonment and a further assault by threat of force.


While the armed police were in the Claimants' flat a radio message was received from the plain clothes officers outside the flats that the armed officers in the "stick", had entered the wrong flat. Those officers then went to the suspect flat and obtained entry, arrested the suspect and recovered the weapon.

The Defendant's case


The defence case was that the officers were responding to an extremely serious and credible report of a firearms incident. Their priority was to locate and contain the firearm. As the officers were preparing to deal with the situation up-dated radio reports from the plain clothes officers, or from other officers at the scene, made reference to "a black female" on the balcony which the containment officers interpreted as being the balcony of the suspect flat. The first Claimant was seen on the balcony of her own flat and, as she was the only person who fitted that description, the containment officers erroneously concluded that she was at the same flat as the suspect. Other features of the Claimant's flat (a brushwood screen behind the railings of the balcony, for example) fitted the description of the suspect flat. It was accepted that the officers' firearms were pointed towards the Claimants and that they could well have felt threatened by them. In effect the basic elements of assault in law were made out.


The essential points in the defence case were:

i) As to the alleged assault on the balcony the acts were justified under the provisions of section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967: a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large. The officers were engaged in attempting to arrest the suspect who was thought to be in the Claimants' flat.

ii) As to trespass: the officers claimed to have entered the flat lawfully pursuant to s.17 (1) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which permits a police constable to enter and search any premises for the purpose of arresting person for an indictable offence, but only where he has reasonable grounds for believing that the person whom he is seeking is on the premises.

iii) As to false imprisonment and assault by holding the Claimants at gun-point within the flat, there was a stark issue of primary fact. The Claimants alleged that they had been held at gunpoint, the Defendant, on the basis of the evidence of the relevant officer denied that any such conduct had occurred. Both matters were plainly straightforward jury questions.

The jury's verdict


The case was considered by the jury, who after several hours' deliberation answered the questions put to them as follows:

" First assault – balcony

It is agreed:

That PC King and PC Burden pointed their guns in the direction of the Claimants while they were on the balcony

That the adult Claimants (Claimants 1 & 4) held up the children (Claimants 2 & 3) on the direction of PC King

Question 1: has the Defendant satisfied you on the balance of probabilities that PC King used such force as was reasonable in the circumstances in order to assist in the arrest of a suspected offender, as against

Claimant 1 YES

Claimant 2 YES

Claimant 3 YES

Claimant 4 YES

In respect of Claimants 1 and 4, where use of force was pointing guns in their direction. In respect of Claimant 2 & 3, where use of force was pointing guns following direction being given for them to be held up by Claimants 1 and 4.

Question 2: Has the Defendant satisfied you on the balance of probabilities that PC Burden used such force as was reasonable in the circumstances in order to assist in the arrest of a suspected offender, as against:

Claimant 1 YES

Claimant 2 YES

Claimant 3 YES

Claimant 4 YES

Trespass – entry into flat

Question 3: Has the Defendant satisfied you on the balance of probabilities that the reason the officers entered the Claimants' flat was to arrest a suspected offender?



Has the Defendant satisfied you on the balance of probabilities that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect was in the flat?


False imprisonment – inside flat

Question 4: Have the Claimants satisfied you on the balance of probabilities that they were ordered by any officer to remain seated on the sofa in the living room such that their freedom of movement was restricted?


Assault — inside flat

Question 5: Have the Claimants satisfied you on the balance of probabilities that a gun was pointed in their direction while they were seated on the sofa?


Consequential application by the Claimants


Despite that verdict, counsel for the Claimants asked for the case to proceed further, upon the basis that in the light of certain undisputed facts, liability on the part of the defendant, could nevertheless be established upon a "joint tortfeasor" basis.


The facts the Claimants rely upon, and which the court is invited to find as facts are as follows.

i) The plain clothes officers correctly identified the suspect's flat – they had seen him on the balcony with a weapon and he had been identified by the informant/witness.

ii) This information was accurately passed to Inspector Renwick by the Plain clothes officers – in particular that the suspects' flat was the flat to the right of the stairwell.

iii) At the time the firearms officers were mobilised the correct flat was known.

iv) Inspector Renwick included in her briefing that the flat was to the right of the stairwell.

v) The plain clothes officers remained outside the block of flats with the suspect's flat in continuous observation.

vi) The plain clothes officers had the means by which to communicate with the firearms officers.

For the purposes of this ruling I accept that those matters were established as facts.


It is to be noted that the jury were not asked to answer any question dealing with whether or not the armed officers were provided with the accurate identification of the suspect's flat at the RVP (in particular that the suspect's...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • Curtis (a.k.a Jason) Davis v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division
    • 15 January 2016
    ...Lord Neuberger's comments were not part of the ratio in Ashley and should not be followed, or, as HHJ Curran QC said in NTC v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2015] EWHC 1432 (QB), they were inconsistent with the earlier decision of the House of Lords in Farrell v Secretary of St......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT