Claims against the police
Claims against the police

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Claims against the police
  • Introduction
  • Vicarious liability and the correct defendant
  • Actions by members of the public in negligence
  • Did the police owe the claimant a duty of care?
  • When might a negligence claim succeed?
  • Control over a third party
  • Assumption of responsibility
  • Foreseeability
  • Fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty?
  • More...

Introduction

The police force is a pure public authority (ie performs only public functions). Therefore, claims can be brought against it under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) and of misfeasance in public office. For further guidance, see Practice Notes: Personal injury claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 and Misfeasance in public office.

That said, by far the most common claims against the police are those brought in negligence. This Practice Note discusses:

  1. negligence claims by members of the public

  2. negligence claims by members of the police force

  3. negligence claims involving self-harm

  4. claims under HRA 1998

Vicarious liability and the correct defendant

Technically, police officers are not employees but office-holders. However, under section 88 of the Police Act 1996 (PA 1996), the Chief Constable of the relevant police force (or the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis in London) will be vicariously liable for ‘any unlawful conduct of constables under his direction and control in the performance or purported performance of their functions’ in the same manner as an employer although it is worthy of note that the statute provides for a more extensive liability in relation to deliberate acts than is applied to employers at common law.

In the case of Weir, the Chief Constable was found to be liable, pursuant to PA 1996, s 88, for the actions of an off-duty police officer who ordered

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