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Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby atticus » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:19 pm

The Supreme Court has delivered its opinions today in the case of Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.

Ian Skelt (one of the barristers for the police force) has written a useful blog on the case. The introductory paragraph:

In Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2018] UKSC 4, the Supreme Court made significant inroads into the principle that the police cannot be sued in negligence save in exceptional circumstances as a result of alleged failures in their core operational duties. Now, where a third party such as a pedestrian is injured as a result of a negligent arrest on the street by a police officer, the police are liable in negligence where that injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the police’s actions.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby shootist » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:05 pm

A most interesting post. Thanks to Atticus for posting it. I can't pretend to make too much sense of it without a lot of re-reads but by and large, if I have it right, then were I still a police officer I doubt I would be making too many acrimonious arrests from now on. Given the issue seems to be negligence, at first guess I find it difficult to understand where the officer's negligence arises. They made plans, delaying an immediate arrest until backup arrived. They no doubt made the most strenuous efforts to make the arrest. Unfortunately, someone was injured, primarily I would believe, by the miscreant himself. Taken to extremes, the case might indicate that no violent arrests should be made, and any arrests that are resisted should lead to the immediate cessation of that arrest, allowing the suspect to flee. Much the same for any vehicular pursuit. Hopefully, I have it entirely wrong.

20 years ago I would have railed against such a situation. Now I just think that if that's what the public wants then let them have it. Leave the drug dealers, the robbers, the thugs, to go about their business. Take the reports and only arrest the compliant. And that is said by someone who is no great fan of the police (as an entity).
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby atticus » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:38 pm

I suggest that
shootist wrote:Taken to extremes, the case might indicate that no violent arrests should be made...
... in circumstances where it is foreseeable that harm may come to others.

From that blog:
In Robinson the Court considered that there was a key difference between positive acts (a duty will be imposed) and omissions (no duty imposed). The act of arresting someone was a positive act. Where an arrest is negligently performed, the police are liable not only for any injury caused to the person being arrested, but also for any injury that the person who is being arrested causes to another person, so long as that injury is a foreseeable consequence of the police’s positive actions.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby shootist » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:54 pm

atticus wrote:I suggest that
shootist wrote:Taken to extremes, the case might indicate that no violent arrests should be made...
... in circumstances where it is foreseeable that harm may come to others.


I think I can speak with some experience when I say that any arrest in a place where anyone other than police and the suspect are present carries a foreseeable risk that harm may come to those others. The risk may be slight, it's true, but it's there for sure, and not always at all obvious. In the case quoted I would have bet that the chances of anyone else being injured were remote, given two plus two officers arresting one person, but it seems that 'remote' is no longer a relevant term. Also, the fact that the arrest was delayed for safety reasons in the first place, albeit mainly for the safety of the officers involved, that is still a safety concern. In the Azelle Rodney shooting by police, where Rodney was shot six times, it would be entirely reasonable to assume that firing shots into a car could cause a ricochet that in turn could harm a passer by. Fortunately none did, but if it had, where lies liability?

In law, this case seems to almost hogtie the police in using any form of force at all. Given the indifference to the law so often shown by the police, it may not be too great a problem providing they never arrest anyone in the vicinity of anyone else rich enough to afford a lawyer, or poor enough to qualify for legal aid. My retirement is increasingly comforting to me.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:14 pm

atticus wrote:I suggest that
shootist wrote:Taken to extremes, the case might indicate that no violent arrests should be made...
... in circumstances where it is foreseeable that harm may come to others.

That would be any that occur where the public are present, or might arrive before the arrest is completed.

shootist wrote:The risk may be slight, it's true, but it's there for sure, and not always at all obvious.

If it is sufficiently not obvious, then that would likely make it not reasonably foreseeable.

In the case quoted I would have bet that the chances of anyone else being injured were remote, given two plus two officers arresting one person...

OK, so how did it happen?
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby atticus » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:16 pm

The material to which I linked provides the detail of the circumstances of the case, and of the decision.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:22 pm

atticus wrote:The material to which I linked provides the detail of the circumstances of the case, and of the decision.

Oh what a predictably tedious reply.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby shootist » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:10 pm

Hairyloon wrote:
atticus wrote:I suggest that
shootist wrote:Taken to extremes, the case might indicate that no violent arrests should be made...
... in circumstances where it is foreseeable that harm may come to others.

That would be any that occur where the public are present, or might arrive before the arrest is completed.


You are repeating myself.

Hairyloon wrote:
shootist wrote:The risk may be slight, it's true, but it's there for sure, and not always at all obvious.

If it is sufficiently not obvious, then that would likely make it not reasonably foreseeable.


I don't think that there was a mention or 'reasonably' in respect of foreseeable.

Hairyloon wrote:
In the case quoted I would have bet that the chances of anyone else being injured were remote, given two plus two officers arresting one person...

OK, so how did it happen?


I shall resist the opportunity to say that I wasn't there so I don't know. I'll try an explain. If I could prove that the odds against it happening were a million to one against, what does that prove? The answer is, I would have just proved it's possible. Two officers initially approach one suspect and start laying on hands. Two other officer quickly arrive. Even you might agree that the safe bet is that the officers can arrest the suspect without any harm coming to anyone save the officers and, of course, the suspect. Violence is difficult to understand for those who rarely or never participate in it. I did it for a living for 22 years.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby shootist » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:12 pm

Hairyloon wrote:
atticus wrote:The material to which I linked provides the detail of the circumstances of the case, and of the decision.

Oh what a predictably tedious reply.


Et tu, Hairy.
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Re: Supreme Court Case - Police negligence

Postby atticus » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:18 pm

I haven't read the judgments. I have skim read the blog. I hoped that those to whom the subject matter is of genuine interest would find it useful to know of this morning's ruling. If they wish, they will find the time to read more.
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