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Police Mis-conduct & Deaths in Custody Timeline

Deaths in Custody

Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the way in which deaths in custody are investigated, as the state has struggled to comply with its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the so called 'Right to Life'. This timeline draws together legislative, legal and political developments which now govern the way in which these controversial deaths are investigated.

08.01.14 Mark Duggan Inquest concludes

The finding are that Mark Duggan was 'Lawfully Killed'. By a majority of eight to two, the jury ruled that the 2011 shooting was lawful. The jury said they were sure, by the same eight-to-two majority, that Duggan did not have a weapon in his hands when police surrounded him. By a majority, the jury concluded he “threw” the gun from a cab he was travelling in when armed officers forced it to stop.

16.09.2013 Mark Duggan inquest begins

The inquest into the death of Mark Duggan begins today in the High Court before HHJ Cutler. It is expected to last 6-8 weeks.

16.08.2013 Coroner for Jimmy Mubenga publishes Rule 43 Report

The coroner in the inquest into Jimmy Mubenga’s death has published a Rule 43 report that raises very serious concerns about the way in which private contractors carry out deportations, including around the use of unlawful restraint techniques, pervasive racism amongst G4S guards and a system of incentives that rewards guards for keeping detainees quiet until flights take off. Mark Scott acted for the Mubenga family.

09.07.2013 Jimmy Mubenga unlawfully killed

The inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga. Mr Mubenga died on 12 October 2010 after being held in restraint by G4S security guards on a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Angola. The Crown Prosecution Service has said that it will reconsider its decision not to bring criminal charges over Mr Mubenga’s death. Mark Scott of Bhatt Murphy represented Mr Mubenga's family.

05.07.2013 Azelle Rodney Inquiry Report published

Mr Rodney died on April 2005 after being shot six times by Metropolitan Police Service officers. The judicial inquiry found that the Authorised Firearms Officer who fired the fatal shots had "no lawful justification" for opening fire. The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to determine whether a prosecution should be launched.

02.07.2013 David Emmanuel suicide verdict

A jury has returned a verdict of suicide in the inquest into the death of reggae artist David Emmanuel, also known as Smiley Culture. It found that Mr Emmanuel died from a self-inflicted stab wound to the heart on 15 March 2011 during a raid on his property by Metropolitan Police officers. Sophie Naftalin acted for the family.

10.05.2013 Inquiry accounced into the death of Daniel Morgan

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced that an Independent Inquiry will be established to examine the circumstances leading to the death of Daniel Morgan in 1987. Sir Stanley Burnton will lead the panel. Raju Bhatt acts for the family of Daniel Morgan.

03.05.2013 Prosecution of officers who restrained Colin Holt

PC Leigh and PC Bowdery were today acquitted of offences of misconduct in public office, following the death by asphyxia of Colin Holt, a mental health patient who they restrained in his home. Mark Scott acts for the Mr Holt’s family.

18.11.2012 Metropolitan Police and police doctor compensate family of man left to die in cell

The family of Andrzej Rymarzak has received the maximum amount of compensation payable in a gross negligence claim following the death of Mr Rymarzak at Chelsea Police Station. The police and the Forensic Medical Examiner Dr Hisham El-Baroudy left Mr Rymarzak dying in a coma on the floor of a cell after deciding that he was fit enough to be detained. The custody sergeant was to face disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct but retired prior to the hearing. Carolynn Gallwey and Nogah Offer acted for the family.

12.11.2012 Casale review of IPCC Investigation into the death of Sean Rigg

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has today announced an external review of its investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Sean Rigg at Brixton police station on 21 August 2008. This follows a highly critical Rule 43 report after an inquest was held on 1 August 2012 into Sean’s death. The review will be led by Dr Silvia Casale and will probe the manner in which the IPCC investigates contentious deaths

24.07.2012 High Court challenge to system of investigating deaths in psychiatric detention

An inquest into the death of Mrs Janey Antoniou has found that she died inadvertently on 23 October 2010 in her room at Northwick Hospital. Following criticism of aspects of Janey’s care by the jury, Janey’s husband Dr Michael Antoniou issued a challenge in the High Court regarding the differential way in which deaths in hospitals are investigated in comparison to the deaths of those detained elsewhere. Tony Murphy acts for Dr Michael Antoniou.

19.07.2012 PC Simon Harwood acquitted in the death of Ian Tomlinson

PC Harwood has today been acquitted of causing the death of Ian Tomlinson in April 2009. PC Harwood struck Mr Tomlinson from behind with a baton and pushed him, causing him to fall. Mr Tomlinson collapsed soon after due to internal bleeding and later died. An inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful death in May 2011.

12.07.2012 CPS decides not to prosecute guards over Jimmy Mubenga’s death

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the G4S guards involved in the death of Mr Jimmy Mubenga. Mr Mubenga died on board a British Airways flight on 12 October 2010 after being held in restraint by G4S guards.

13.02.2012 Prison Service receives Crown Censure

For only the second time, the Prison Service was formally censured for failing to maintain a safe environment for vulnerable prisoners. Following a death by hanging in a so-called ‘safer cell‘ at HMP Bullingdon, it transpired that the prison had installed shower rails in these cells in contravention of guidance and had failed over some years to identify and correct this. As a result of this case, new requirements for safer cells became mandatory across the prison estate from April 2012.

08.02.2012 Death of Melanie Rabone: civil proceedings

This important case arose from Ms Rabone’s suicide whilst on home leave from an NHS hospital, and offers some useful guidance on the test for a duty of care, the threshold for an Article 2 claim, and concerning issues of limitation and quantum in these cases.

02.02.2012 IPCC to review its Article 2 investigations

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced a thematic review into its engagement with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It will review its work in this area, focusing on its powers, resources and approach to cases that raise Article 2 issues.

13.01.2012 Prosecution of police doctor for leaving man to die

In January 2009 Dr Hisham El-Baroudy was asked to examine Mr Andrzej Rymarzak, who was in fact unconscious on the floor of a Police cell. Although he was presenting as an acute medical emergency Dr El-Baroudy decided that he was fit for detention. Dr El-Baroudy was acquitted but later faced a disciplinary hearing before the General Medical Council in March 2013, where he was struck off the Medical register.

07.07.2011 Deaths of Iraqi citizens: Al-Skeini v UK

This case concluded that, in exceptional cases, acts performed in a foreign state could come under the jurisdiction of the European Convention on Human Rights. Here, the Article 2 duty to carry out an effective investigation arose in relation to deaths in Iraq as a result of UK action between 1 May 2003 and 28 June 2004 in the same way as if those deaths had occurred in the UK.

30.05.2011 Unlawful killing verdict for Ian Tomlinson

An inquest jury has returned a verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the death of Ian Tomlinson. Mr Tomlinson was making his way home during the G20 demonstrations on 1 April 2009 when he was struck by PC Simon Harwood of the Territorial Support Group and later died of internal bleeding.

30.01.2011 Adam Rickwood inquest verdict

A jury has returned a highly critical verdict following the re-convened inquest into the death of 14 year old Adam Rickwood. The inquest jury found that an unlawful use of force contributed to his decision to take his own life at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre on 8 August 2004. He was the youngest child to die in custody in modern times. Mark Scott acted for Adam’s family.

01.12.2010 House of Lords defeat plan to abolish Chief Coroner

The House of Lords has voted by 275 votes to 165 against the coalition government’s plans to abolish the role of Chief Coroner.

01.11.2010 Coalition to abandon plans for a chief Coroner

The coalition government has announced that it plans to abolish the post of Chief Coroner. The post was introduced by the previous Labour government in order to provide much-needed oversight and consistency in how inquests are run.

27.04.2010 Blair Peach Report Published

The Cass Report into the circumstances of the death of Blair Peach was today released after thirty years of secrecy. Mr Peach was fatally struck by a truncheon or police radio during clashes with the Special Patrol Group at an anti-National Front protest in Southall in April 1979. The Cass Report confirms that a police officer delivered the fatal blow and that the police covered up his actions. Raju Bhatt acted for the Celia Stubbs, Mr Peach’s partner, following the death of Mr Peach.

12.11.2009 Coroners and Justice Act (2009) receives Royal Assent

Key elements of the legislation include the creation of the post of Chief Coroner, who will have oversight over the coronial courts and the introduction of a right of appeal, in certain circumstances, to the Chief Coroner.

15.05.2009 Jack Straw concedes that “secret” inquests plan should be abandoned

The government finally conceded that there was insufficient support for their contentious proposal to certify inquests (ie convene them behind closed doors and without a jury) where sensitive information is likely to be made public. Those provisions will be removed from the Coroners & Justice Bill before it becomes law.

12.05.2009 Joint Committee on Human Rights comes out against “secret” inquests

The JCHR found that the case for secret inquests was not made out by the Government, and that the safeguards they had proposed would be ineffective. They proposed that provisions relating to secret inquests be removed from the Coroners & Justice Bill.

03.04.2009 High Court adopts narrow interpretation of “relevant circumstances” in an Article 2 death

R (Lewis & others) v HM Coroner for the Mid and North Division of the County of Shropshire & others [2009] EWHC 661 (Admin)

These three challenges broadly concerned the issue of whether inquest juries should be allowed to comment on matters of relevance to deaths in custody which may fall outside the legal chain of causation. It was argued that a proper reading of the Article 2 case law allowed for and encouraged findings about the wider circumstances of a death at the hands of the State, but the High Court disagreed, commenting that Article 2 required neither the investigation nor the expression of matters arising out of a death which were not causative or contributory. This decision is currently the subject of an appeal.

25.03.2009 Costs of inquests are recoverable in civil proceedings subject to test of relevance

This Court of Appeal case is an important one for bereaved families, given the restricted funding available for inquests. In it, the court found that costs of attending an inquest can be recovered as incidental costs in civil proceedings arising out of the death, subject to a test of relevance and depending on the case’s circumstances.

22.01.2009 High Court finds use of pain compliance on children is unlawful

R (Carol Pounder) v HM Coroner for the North and South Districts of Durham and Darlington, the Youth Justice Board and others [2009] EWHC 76 (Admin)

This challenge followed the Coroner’s refusal to rule on the legality of the force used on Adam Rickwood on the evening of his death (see above). The High Court concluded not only that the Coroner was wrong to refuse to make such a ruling but that there was no doubt that Adam had been subject to an unlawful assault by staff.

14.01.2009 The Coroners & Justice Bill 2009 is finally tabled


Almost 2 years since announcing that legislative reform of the Coronial system was in train, a draft Bill was finally tabled in the House of Commons. It raises a number of concerns; in particular it proposes secret or “certified” inquests in certain circumstances, but also appears to downgrade the role of juries in some cases and fails to make provision for funding legal representation for bereaved families. INQUEST in particular lobby hard for improvements.

12.12.2008 De Menezes inquest jury returns open verdict

Directed that they could not return a verdict of unlawful killing, the inquest jury return an open verdict on the basis that they did not accept that the officers who fired at Jean Charles de Menezes honestly believed he posed an imminent mortal threat, or that they used reasonable force in the circumstances. They also disbelieved police claims that they had shouted a warning, or that de Menezes had moved towards them when challenged.

10.12.2008 Positive duties to protect life under Article 2 emphasised in mental health suicide case

In Savage v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust [2008] UKHL 74, Mrs Savage was detained under the Mental Health Act but absconded and committed suicide by throwing herself under a train. The civil claim brought by her daughter led to the House of Lords determining, as a preliminary issue, the test for establishing a breach of Article 2. In doing so, they rejected the Defendant’s submission that the Claimant needed to show gross negligence, and confirmed that, for patients detained under the Mental Health Act, authorities would be expected to do all that was reasonable to protect life where they knew or ought to have known that there was a real and imminent risk of loss of life.

BM were interveners in this case.

26.11.2008 An Article 2 compliant investigation following a prison suicide attempt

In R (JL) v SSJ [2008] UKHL 68, The House of Lords held that it was not necessary to show an arguable breach of the substantive Article 2 obligation to trigger an Article 2 compliant investigation – this case concerned a prisoner whose suicide attempt resulted instead in long-term brain damage. The case was categorised as a ‘near miss’ and it was held that in such cases of severe injury, an Article 2 compliant investigation may well be necessary, although the court also noted that there may be circumstances when it will not.

10.10.2008 Fatal police shootings: Officers should not be permitted to confer

R (Saunders and Tucker) v the IPCC and others [2008] EWHC 2372 (Admin)

The families of two men shot dead by the police challenged the IPCC for their failure to ensure that the police officers involved in the killings were prevented from collaborating in the preparation of their accounts of the shootings. The Court accepted the IPCC position that they had been waiting for guidance to be published by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) but sent a clear message that the relevant guidance should be finalised. That guidance was published two weeks later. It relates only to deaths by shooting however; in all other deaths following or in the course of police contact, conferring is still permitted.

02.10.2008 The Court recognises a broad definition of “interested persons” to inquests

In R (Platts) v HM Coroner for South East Yorkshire [2008] EWHC 2502 (Admin), The deceased in this case had mental health problems and was detained by police as a result of his bizarre and threatening behaviour. They failed to carry out any assessment of him and he killed himself just after being released from custody. The coroner refused to recognise his girlfriend as an interested person because they had split up shortly before his death. That decision was quashed by the High Court, who confirmed that Coroner’s Rule 20(2)(h) should be interpreted broadly.

30.07.2008 “Real and immediate risk to life” confirmed as threshold for police failure to protect victims

30.07.08 “Real and immediate risk to life” confirmed as threshold for police failure to protect victims

The House of Lords confirmed that the test of whether Article 2 was engaged in cases brought by victims of crime was as set out in Osman v United Kingdom (1998) 29 EHRR 245, namely that there will be a breach of the positive obligation under Article 2 ECHR if the authorities knew or ought to have known at the time of the existence of a real and immediate risk to life, and failed to take appropriate measures. They found that this threshold was not met in the case of these appeals.

28.07.2008 High Court quashes amendments to Rules which extend use of physical force on children in detention

R (C) v Secretary of State for Justice [2008] EWCA Civ 882

Following the controversy around the inquests into the death of Adam Rickwood and Gareth Myatt (see above), the Secretary of State for Justice sought to extend the circumstances in which physical force might be used on detained children. This challenge succeeded on the basis that the amended rules would have infringed the human rights of the children to whom such restraint was to be applied and were contrary to the requirements of Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR.

26.07.2007 Custody providers can be tried for corporate manslaughter

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 creates the offence of corporate manslaughter for companies and other organisations where gross failures in the management of health and safety have fatal consequences. This will apply to most custodial settings but roll-out will take place over 3 to 5 years. The Government had initially proposed that public authorities – including prisons – be excluded from the ambit of the Act, and this was the subject of fierce debate: see further commentary by Inquest and the Justice Department.

08.06.2007 High Court confirms evidential test for unlawful killing

In R (Cash) v HM Coroner for Northamptonshire [2007] EWHC 1354 (Admin), Darren Cash died following a period of restraint by police. He had taken an overdose shortly beforehand and his family queried whether there was any need to use force on him at all given that he was weak and unwell at that time. The Coroner refused to leave “unlawful act manslaughter” to the jury as a possible verdict and the Cash family challenged that refusal in the High Court. The Court found that it could not be said that there was no evidence on which the jury, properly directed, could have concluded that the degree of force used to restrain Darren Cash was unreasonable or contributed significantly to his death, and the Coroner was therefore wrong not to leave unlawful killing as a verdict. However, following the re-convened inquest, the jury again returned an accidental death verdict.

01.05.2007 Coroner refuses to rule on legality of force used on child in custody

Inquest touching upon the death of Adam Rickwood

Adam Rickwood was the youngest person to die in custody in modern Britain. During the evening before he took his own life, staff at the privately run detention centre restrained Adam for a minor matter using a “pain compliance” technique. Use of such techniques was not permitted by the relevant Rules. In the inquest which followed, the Coroner refused to make a ruling as to whether the type of restraint used on Adam was lawful.

01.05.2007 Coroner refuses to rule on legality of force used on child in custody

Inquest touching upon the death of Gareth Myatt

At 15, Gareth Myatt was the youngest person to die in detention whilst under restraint. He was less than 5 feet tall but was restrained by three prison officers for refusing to clean a sandwich toaster. He died of asphyxia, choking on his own vomit. Concerns expressed about the dangers of the type of restraint used over several years had not led to its use being reviewed by the Youth Justice Board. The technique used was banned after Gareth’s death.

28.03.2007 House of Lords allows police appeal against finding that HRA applies retrospectively

The House of Lords rejected the Court of Appeal’s finding that section 3 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) required the Coroner’s Act to be read in such a way as to comply with Article 2 of the ECHR, in deaths that pre-dated the introduction of the HRA.

17.10.2006 Court of Appeal rejects calls for public inquiry into death of 16 year old Joseph Scholes

R (Scholes) v Secretary of State for Justice [2006] EWCA Civ 1343

Joseph Scholes was a highly vulnerable 16 year old who had been sentenced to 2 years for his passive role in the robbery of 3 mobile phones. In spite of his age, vulnerability and the fact that this was his first custodial sentence he was sent to a Young Offenders Institution. He took his own life 9 days later. The Coroner suggested that wider issues around sentencing and the accommodation of vulnerable child detainees should be the subject of a public inquiry. Joseph’s mother’s request for such an inquiry was refused by the Secretary of State, and that refusal was upheld in this Court of Appeal decision.

06.02.2006 Ministerial statement on reform of the coroners' system

Minister of State at the DCA Harriet Harman MP set out the government's long awaited proposed reform of the inquest system. A draft Bill should be available in April/May 2006 with a view to the proposed legislation being announced in the Queen's Speech in November with the hope of a new Coroners Act in 2007.

Explanatory note and Minister's statement

06.01.2006 Prison Service issues PSO 2710

Prison Service issues PSO 2710 detailing the responsibilities it will discharge following a death in custody.

01.2006 ACPO protocol investigating deaths in prison

ACPO publish protocol for police investigation of prison, probation and immigration related deaths in custody – the result of the outcome of a formal complaint by the family of Alton Manning concerning the serious and systemic failures in the West Mercia police investigation of his restraint related death in the custody of HMP BLakenhurst.

29.05.2005 Section 3 of the Human Rights Act does apply to pre-HRA deaths

Metropolitan Police Commissioner v Hurst [2005] EWCA Civ 890

The Court of Appeal held that section 3 of the Human Rights Act (on interpreting Acts of Parliament to comply with Convention rights) applies to deaths that occurred before the HRA and therefore the House of Lords’ interpretation of the Coroner’s Act in Middleton and Sacker (see above) applied to this case and there should be an effective investigation of not only how the deceased came by his death but also ‘in what circumstances’. Re McKerr distinguished. The case is currently pending a further appeal by the Commissioner to the House of Lords.

2005 Expanding entitlement to pre-inquest disclosure in custodial death cases

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman develops policy on disclosure for deaths in custody.

The guidance highlights good practice to ensure compliance with the state’s obligations under Article 2.

25.11.2004 Unlawful killing verdict quashed

R (Anderson and others) v HM Coroner [2004] EWHC 2729 (Admin)

Roger Sylvester Family Statement

High Court quashes unlawful killing verdict in respect of restraint related death of Roger Sylvester in police custody.

17.11.2004 Coroner's jury identifies systemic failings

Inquest returns damning verdict in case of Anna Claire Baker, one of the HMP Styal deaths referred to above.

09.2004 Review of restraint techniques

Metropolitan Police Authority approve and publish report upon review of restraint techniques and officer safety training, with particular reference to the treatment of individuals suffering from mental illness, in light of the jury verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the death of Roger Sylvester.

01.04.2004 Prison and Probation Ombudsman assumes investigative responsibilty for prison deaths

The Prisons & Probation Ombudsman formally assumes responsibility for investigating all deaths in prison or probation custody, or in immigration detention. The role is an administrative one as he does not currently have statutory powers, although these are currently the subject of a Bill. In any case, his remit is limited to making recommendations and not to enforcing these. It is intended that this new independence will help to ensure that inquiries into such deaths are compliant with Article 2 of the ECHR, in that they are effective and transparent and encourage active participation by bereaved families.

01.04.2004 IPCC commences operation

The Independent Police Complaints Commission assumes responsibility for the investigation of deaths in police custody and complaints against police, with powers to conduct their own independent investigation in most cases of deaths in custody.

11.03.2004 Coroners' inquests required to extend focus to systemic failings

R (Middleton) v West Somerset Coroner [2004] 2 AC 182; and

R (Sacker) v West Yorkshire Coroner [2004] UKHL 11.

The House of Lords rule that the requirement in section 11(5)(b)(ii) of the Coroners Act 1988 and Rule 36 (1)(b) of the Coroners Rules 1984 to determine "how the deceased came by his death" should be interpreted as meaning not simply "by what means the deceased came by his death" but "by what means and in what circumstances the deceased came by his death" in order to meet the requirements of an Article 2 compliant investigation.

11.03.2004 Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 does not apply to pre-HRA deaths

Re McKerr

House of Lords rule that section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 does not apply to deaths occurring before 2 October 2000, i.e. the coming into force of the 1998 Act.

11.2003 MPA review of police restraint techniques

Metropolitan Police Authority set up a review of restraint techniques and officer safety training, with particular reference to the treatment of individuals suffering from mental illness, in light of the jury verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the death of Roger Sylvester.

16.10.2003 Family wins entitlement to a public inquiry

R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Amin [2003] UKHL 51.

The House of Lords rules on the entitlement of a bereaved family to an independent and public judicial inquiry in a case concerning the failure of the Prison Service to prevent a death in its custody, applying the Jordan minimum criteria under Article 2.

03.10.2003 Unlawful killing verdict on Roger Sylvester's death in custody of Metropolitan Police

Following an inquest hearing over 5 weeks, the jury return a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the restraint related death of Roger Sylvester in January 1999 – highlighting yet again the dangers of positional/restraint asphyxia and the use of restraint on mentally ill members of the public– see the family campaign at www.rsjc.org.uk.

08.2003 First independent investigation into death in prison custody

The deaths of six women at HMP Styal in the preceding 12 month period leads to the first independent investigation into a death in prison custody.

The Prisons & Probation Ombudsman is asked to conduct an investigation into the last of this series of tragic deaths, and also to identify any themes which emerge. This call comes in advance of his office being given a standing commission to investigate all such deaths. Bhatt Murphy is instructed in respect of 2 of these controversial deaths.

16.07.2003 Attorney General's report on review of the CPS

Attorney General’s Report upon his review of the role and practices of the Crown Prosecution Service in cases of deaths in custody. See also:

Response of Bhatt Murphy and others to the Attorney General’s Review.

04.07.2003 Coroner must investigate systemic police failings

Hurst v HM Coroner for Northern District of London.

The Divisional Court holds that Article 2 requires an effective investigation of systemic failures that may have contributed to the death even though there had been a criminal trial which had determined how the deceased had come by his death. See below (2005) with regard to the Commissioner's unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Appeal on this case which is currently pending a further appeal to the House of Lords.

06.2003 Report of the Fundamental Review of Death Certification and Coronial Investigation Systems

The Report of the Fundamental Review of Death Certification and Coronial Investigation Systems.

03.2003 The Shipman Inquiry Report

The Shipman Inquiry reports on death certification and coronial investigation systems.

05.06.2002 Revised Home Office circular on pre-inquest disclosure

Deaths in Police Custody: Guidance to the Police on Pre-Inquest Disclosure.

Home Office Circular 31/2002 revises the guidance given to police on the provision of pre-inquest disclosure to bereaved families in cases of deaths in police custody

06.2002 Response to Attorney General's consultation paper

Response of Bhatt Murphy (with INQUEST & LIBERTY) to Attorney General's consultation paper on his review of the role and practices of the Crown Prosecution Service in cases of deaths in custody.

04.2002 Consultation paper on Attorney General's review

Publication of Consultation Paper on Attorney General’s review of the role and practices of the Crown Prosecution Service in cases of deaths in custody.

2002 Police Reform Act

Police Reform Act 2002 establishes the Independent Police Complaints Commission to oversee the police complaints process and to conduct an independent investigation for the most controversial of cases including most deaths in police custody.

2002 Proposal for independent investigation of prison deaths

In its White Paper, Justice for All, the Government proposed that the remit of the Prisons & Probation Ombudsman be extended to include investigating deaths in prison custody.

12.01.2001 Attorney General's review of the role and practices of the CPS in cases of deaths in cutody

The Attorney General announces a review of the role and practices of the Crown Prosecution Service in cases of death in custody.

2001 Jordan v UK

Jordan v UK [2001] 37 EHRR 52

The ECtHR sets out the Jordan Criteria for the minimum standards to be achieved by any effective official investigation into a death, with regard to the obligations of the state under Article 2 with reference to securing of evidence, promptness of inquiry and the role of next of kin.

02.10.2000 Human Rights Act 1998 comes into force

Human Rights Act 1998

17.05.2000 Entitlement to reasons for decisions not to prosecute

R v DPP ex parte Manning and Melbourne [2000] EWHC Admin 342.

Bereaved families gain entitlement to reasons for CPS decisions not to prosecute officers of the state in relation to deaths in custody and other serious violations.

28.03.2000 Mahmut Kaya v Turkey

Mahmut Kaya v Turkey ECtHR

Article 2(1) requires the state not only to refrain from the intentional and unlawful taking of life, but also to take appropriate steps to protect life.

2000 ACPO Family Liaison Strategy

ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) launches its Family Liaison Strategy, outlining standards of good practice and recognising the crucial role to be played by the bereaved family in a successful investigation.

11.08.1999 Publication of Butler Report

Butler Report published following independent inquiry into CPS decision making and handling of deaths in cutody and pother serious cases.

06.1999 Criminal prosecution and trial of police officers involved in unlawful killing of Richard O'Brien

Prosecution and trial of police officers for the manslaughter of Richard O’Brien culminates in their acquittal.

29.04.1999 Home Office issue circular on pre-inquest disclosure

The Home Office issue Circular 20/1999 - 'Deaths in Custody: Guidance to the Police on Pre-inquest Disclosure' - encouraging pre-inquest disclosure of relevant documents to bereaved families in cases of deaths in police custody. The guidance does not establish any legal entitlement to disclosure which remains the responsibility of the police. See below (2002) for a copy of the current guidance.

1999 Coroners (Amendment Rules) 1999

Sets out matters to be ascertained at inquests, use of evidence and prevention of similar fatalities.

20.05.1998 DPP Resigns

The DPP resigns, significantly weakened by criticism from the courts and the Butler Inquiry following her own forced admissions of flawed decision making .

25.03.1998 Unlawful killing verdict on Alton Manning's death in the custody of HMP Blakenhurst

Following a four week inquest, the jury return a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the death of Alton Manning in the custody of HMP Blakenhurst on 8 December 1995 as a result of a neckhold applied by prison officers in the course of restraint.

1998 Osman v UK

Osman v UK 29 EHRR 245 ECtHR

1998 Human Rights Act

Human Rights Act 1998

16.12.1997 Report of the Home Affairs Select Committee on Police Complaints and Discipline

Home Affairs Select Committee condemns the arrangements for investigating deaths in custody.

02.10.1997 Unlawful killing verdict on Ibrahima Sey's death in custody of Metropolitan Police

Following a five week inquest, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the restraint related death of Ibrahim Sey on 16 March 1996 – highlighted the dangers of positional/restraint asphyxia and the use of CS spray in relation to a person who is mentally ill.

08.1997 Butler Inquiry established

In the wake of the judicial review challenges to the DPP's decisions in the cases of Lapite, O'Brien and Treadaway, the Attorney General sets up independent inquiry by HH Judge Gerard Butler QC into the handling of deaths in custody and other serious cases within the Crown Prosecution Service under the DPP - and in the interim the DPP was stripped of her powers in relation to decision making in such cases.

31.07.1997 High Court finds the DPP's decision in the Treadaway case to be unlawful

Lord Justice Rose ruled in a detailed judgment that the DPP’s reasoning and conclusions leading to the decision not to prosecute the officers in the Treadaway case demonstrated a flawed approach involving a repeated failure to give the close scrutiny, careful consideration and proper appraisal demanded by the available evidence.

23.07.1997 DPP concedes her decision not to prosecute in the O’Brien case was unlawful

On the second day of the trial, the DPP was forced to concede that she could no longer defend the decision not to prosecute the officers involved in the O’Brien case, having been compelled to disclose an internal memorandum which revealed that the decision had been based on a consideration of the police accounts alone, to the exclusion of other eye witness accounts.

22.07.1997 DPP concedes her decision not to prosecute in the Lapite case was unlawful

On the first day of the trial of the Lapite-O'Brien-Treadaway judicial review proceedings, the DPP conceded that she could no longer defend the decision not to prosecute the officers concerned in the death of Shiji Lapite.

1997 Article 2 Requires Identification and Punishment

In Aydin v Turkey 1997 25 EHRR 251, the ECtHR held that the obligation on the state to ensure a thorough and effective investigation into a death in custody required that the next of kin should have effective access to the investigatory procedure, and that it should be capable of leading to the identification and punishment (where appropriate) of those responsible for the death.

1997 DPP judicially reviewed for failures to prosecute police officers

The widows of Shiji Lapite and Richard O’Brien together with Derek Treadaway (who had established at trial before a High Court judge that he had been tortured in police custody) launch judicial review of the failure of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute police officers.

16.03.1996 Restraint related death of Ibrahima Sey

Restraint related death of Ibrahima Sey in custody of Metropolitan Police.

25.01.1996 Unlawful killing verdict on Shiji Lapite's death in custody of Metropolitan Police

Following a two week inquest, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in respect of the death of Shiji Lapite on 16 December 1994 as a result of a neck hold applied by police officers following his arrest – they insisted that they had never been warned about the fatal dangers inherent in the use of a neckhold, despite guidance to that effect having been circulated by ACPO to all police forces in January 1994.

08.12.1995 Restraint related death of Alton Manning

Restraint related death of Alton Manning in custody of HMP Blakenhurst.

10.11.1995 Unlawful killing verdict on Richard O'Brien's death in custody of Metropolitan Police

Following a two week inquest exploring the circumstances of the restraint related death of Richard O’Brien on 6 April 1994, the inquest jury took just 40 minutes to return a unanimous verdict that he had been unlawfully killed. The Coroner, Sir Montague Levine, referred the case back to the DPP for further consideration and castigated the training provided by the Metropolitan Police to its officers in restraint techniques.

1995 Court of Appeal imposes a narrow remit for Coroners and their juries

In Humberside Coroner ex parte Jamieson [1995] QB 1, the Court of Appeal held that the Coroner’s remit was a narrow one limited to considerations of merely ‘how’ the deceased came by his death; and that a finding of neglect was only appropriate in the most extreme of circumstances and were direct causation had been established. In the same judgment, the Court of Appeal also held that the duty of the Coroner was to 'ensure that the relevant facts are fully, fairly and fearlessly investigated … He must ensure that the relevant facts are exposed to public scrutiny'. The tension between the two aspects of the judgment has led to real difficulty in its practical application for many years.

1995 The Gibraltar Case

In the groundbreaking case of McCann and others v UK 1995 21 EHRR 1997, the ECtHR held that Article 2 requires some form of effective investigation when individuals have been killed or injured as a result of the use of force by agents of the state. The investigation must consider the planning and organisation lying behind those actions.

16.12.1994 Restraint related death of Shiji Lapite

Restraint related death of Shiji Lapite in custody of Metropolitan Police.

06.04.1994 Restraint related death of Richard O’Brien

Restraint related death of Richard O’Brien in custody of Metropolitan Police.

28.09.1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

The Principles sets out minimum standards for the thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of controversial deaths in custody, including the entitlement of the deceased's family to effective access to the investigation. Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba.

1988 Coroners Act

The Act sets out the legislative framework within which Coroners exercise their powers to investigate controversial deaths. The Act is now significantly out of date and is causing practical difficulties for Coroners in their endeavours to meet their modern obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

 

Timeline - Police Misconduct

Recent years have seen significant change in the manner in which police complaints are investigated and civil claims for damages against the police processed. This timeline sets out some of the key developments.

17.07.2013 IPCC conclude the Metropolitan Police Service is failing to deal effectively with race complaints

A report by the IPCC, based on an analysis of race complaints dealt with by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), concluded that such complaints were not handled in a sufficiently robust or fair way. It calls for a cultural change in the way the MPS deals with such complaints, supported by training, monitoring and community feedback.

10.05.2013 Daniel Morgan Independent Panel Announced

The Home Secretary announced in a written statement her decision to appoint an Independent Panel led by Sir Stanley Burnton to examine the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s murder in 1987.

28.02.2013 Court of Appeal upholds High Court decision

The Court of Appeal upholds a High Court decision in the first judgment in this jurisdiction where police are found to have subjected a member of the public to inhuman or degrading treatment and unlawful disability discrimination: ZH v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

The Court of Appeal rejected the Commissioner’s appeal against a High Court Judgment which found that Metropolitan Police officers subjected a sixteen year old boy with severe autism, learning disabilities and epilepsy to assault and battery, unlawful disability discrimination, false imprisonment and multiple breaches of the Human Rights Act by forcing him into handcuffs and leg restraints during a school trip to Acton Swimming Baths in West London on 23 September 2008.

12.09.2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel presents Report to Hillsborough families

On Wednesday 12 September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel presented its Report to the Hillsborough families, explaining the outcome of its work to secure maximum possible disclosure of documents relating to the disaster at the Hillsborough Stadium on 15 April 1989 and its aftermath.

15.03.2012 ECHR finds that kettling of Mayday protestors did not amount to deprivation of liberty

Austin and others v UK App Nos 39692/09, 40713/09, and 41008/09.

20.05.2011 First domestic claim to consider the investigative duties owed by the police under Articles 3 and 4

O.O.O and others v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2001] EWHC 1246.

The High Court finds those obligations to have been breached in this case, in which the police failed to investigate allegations made by the Claimants, four young Nigerian Women who had been brought into the UK illegally and forced to work as unpaid servants.

18.05.2011 Indefinite retention of fingerprints and DNA held to be unjustified interference with article 8

Supreme Court holds that indefinite retention of fingerprints and DNA was held to be an unjustified interference with article 8:
R (GC) v Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis [2011] UKSC 21.

The Supreme Court reversed the House of Lords decision in S and Marper in light of the ECtHT decision in that case. However, the Supreme Court allowed further time for Parliament to produce revised guidelines.

01.10.2010 Key provisions of the Equality Act 2010 come into force

The Act repealed to a large extent the existing anti-discrimination statutes and regulations and replaced them with consolidated protection against discrimination connected to the ‘protected characteristics’. It also introduced some limited further equality obligations.

30.04.2010 Release of Cass Report regarding the death of Blair Peach

More than 30 years after the death of Blair Peach, the Metropolitan Police Service released the report of Commander Cass into the events surrounding his death in Southall, west London, on 23 April 1979. The report, which had been conducted shortly after the death of Mr Peach but kept secret, concluded that the fatal blow to Mr Peach was struck by a police officer whose actions were then concealed by his brother officers.

12.01.2010 Regime for stop and searches breaches article 8

The Supreme Court holds that chief officers must have greater regard to Article 8 when considering whether to disclose information to Criminal Records Bureau and that in many cases the subject of the information should have the right to make representations. R(L) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2009] UKSC 3.

12.01.10 European Court of Human Rights hold that the regime for stop and searches without reasonable suspicion under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 breaches article 8: Gillan and Quinton v UK App 4158/05 .

The court held that the searches amounted with any interference with Article 8 rights and that such interference could not be justified because they were not in accordance with the law as they were not subject to sufficient legal safeguards to guard against their arbitrary and discriminatory use.

29.10.2009 chief officers must have greater regard to Article 8

Supreme Court holds that chief officers must have greater regard to Article 8 when considering whether to disclose information to Criminal Records Bureau and that in many cases the subject of the information should have the right to make representations.
R(L) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2009] UKSC 3.

18.05.2009 Northamptonshire Police pay £70,000 in disability discrimination claim.

Northamptonshire Police agree to pay £70,000 in disability discrimination claim. Read more here on Williamson.

30.04.2009 Metropolitan Police admit assaulting protestors

Metropolitan Police admits assaulting and falsely imprisoning protestors and pays them £85,000 plus costs. Read more here on Lucio.

18.03.2009 Metropolitan Police admits brutalising detainee

Metropolitan Police admits brutalising a detainee and pays him £60,000 plus costs. As a result. the Metropolitan Police Authority convenes a judicial inquiry into the Metropolitan Police’s conduct. Read more here on Babar Ahmed.

09.03.2009 Public Accounts Committee raises concerns on IPCC

House of Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes report raising concerns regarding the performance of the IPCC. Read the full report here.

01.02.2009 ACPO issues guidance

Association of Chief Police Officers issues guidance advising officers not to confer with others before making their accounts following a police related shooting except in exceptional circumstances [ORANGE]

The revised guidance comes just two weeks after the cases of R (on the application of Saunders and Tucker) v IPCC [2008] EWHC 2372 (Admin), in which the Claimants challenged the practice of conferring.

28.01.2009 Detention of May Day protesters not an arbitrary deprivation of liberty

House of Lords finds that the mass detention of protestors and non-protestors during May Day 2001 did not constitute an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and so Article 5 was not applicable.
Austin and another v CPM [2009] UKHL 5.

27.01.2009 CPS in breach of Article 3

High Court finds CPS in breach of Article 3 in respect of its treatment of a victim of crime:
R(B) v DPP [2009] EWHC 106 (Admin).

23.01.2009 Permission requirement under s329 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 is directory

Court of Appeal rules that a failure by a claimant to seek permission before issuing proceedings for trespass to person where s/he has been convicted of an imprisonable offence on the same occasion will not necessarily nullify the claim. The requirement to seek permission under s329 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 is directory not mandatory:

Adorian v CPM [2009] EWCA Civ 18.

04.12.2008

Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights finds that the policy in England and Wales of retaining the DNA and fingerprints of virtually all persons charged with an offence (whether subsequently convicted or not) breaches Article 8:
S and Marper v UK App Nos. 30562/04;30566/04.

01.12.2008 New Regulations concerning police misconduct

A new set of regulations came into force on 1 December 2008. Known as the Taylor Reforms (having been introduced in light of the Taylor Review of Police Disciplinary Arrangements), they included new procedures for police misconduct meetings and hearings. The Code of Conduct was been replaced by “Standards of Professional Behaviour”, including a new standard, Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct, whereby police officers must report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which has fallen below the Standards.

26.11.2008 Suicide attempts require Article 2 compliant investigations

House of Lords holds that whenever a prisoner attempts suicide and long-term injury results, an Article 2 compliant investigation will be necessary, irrespective of whether there was an arguable basis that the state was in breach of its substantive duties of protection under Article 2:

R (L) v SSJ [2008] UKHL 68.

14.11.2008 National Audit Office raises concern on IPCC performance

National Audit Office publishes report raising concerns regarding the performance of the IPCC. Read full report here.

 

22.10.2008 IPCC duty to investigate all incident circumstances

Court of Appeal confirms that in an independent investigation the IPCC has a duty to ensure it investigates all the circumstances pertaining to the incident/complaint, including potentially relevant circumstances arising before the complainant had contact with the police:

R (Reynolds) v IPCC [2008] EWCA Civ 1160.

10.10.2008 High Court finds potential breach of Article 2

High Court finds that police officers conferring before making their notes of a police shooting potentially breaches Article 2. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) revises its guidance (read here) to police officers in the aftermath of this judgment, advising against conferring in most cases:

R (Saunders and Tucker) v IPCC and others [2008] EWHC 2372 (Admin).

30.07.2008 House of Lords holds operational duty not breached by Hertfordshire police

House of Lords over rules Court of Appeal and High Court in finding on the facts that Hertfordshire police did not breach its operational duty under Article 2 in its treatment of a prosecution witness. It held that the Osman test should apply with the same rigour where the relevant risk to life had arisen from the actions of the state:

Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Police v Van Colle [2008] UKHL 50.

30.07.2008 House of Lords strikes out claim for negligence

House of Lords strikes out claim for negligence brought by victim of crime on basis that the public policy considerations identified in Hill and Brooks negated the existence of a duty of care. It held that the availability of the Human Rights Act made it less rather than more compelling for the common law to acknowledge a comparable duty of care, with Lord Bingham dissenting:

Smith v Chief Constable of Sussex Police [2008] UKHL 50

23.04.2008 Test for self-defence requires "honest belief"

House of Lords refuses to strike out assault claim in Sussex police shooting. It held that the test for self-defence in civil proceedings requires an honest belief that the officer was under threat of imminent attack. That belief must be based on reasonable grounds. Honest but mistaken belief is not sufficient.

Ashley v Chief Constable of Sussex Police [2008] UKHL 25.

29.02.2008 Crisis of confidence in IPCC

Lawyers representing complainants withdraw from IPCC’s Advisory Board (read here).

30.01.2008 Limitation period reduced

House of Lords reduces the limitation period for claim including trespass to person and malicious prosecution from 6 to 3 years if the claim includes a claim for personal injury:

A v Hoare and others [2008] UKHL 6.

20.12.2007 No fixed rule on awards for psychiatric injury, injury to feelings and aggravated damages

The Court of Appeal provides guidance on the inter-relationship between awards for psychiatric injury, injury to feelings and aggravated damages. There should be no fixed rule about whether separate awards should be made. That decision is fact sensitive:
Martins v Choudhary [2007] EWCA Civ 1379.

04.07.2007 Permission required before issuance of claim against police

House of Lords rules that permission must be sought before issuing a private law claim against the police in respect of an act purporting to be done under the Mental Heath Act 1983 (e.g. removing the Claimant to a place of safety). This requirement is mandatory:
Seal v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2007] UKHL 31.

15.05.2007 Court of European Human Rights finds Police in breach of Article 2

The European Court of Human Rights finds that police officers being allowed to confer with one another before making their notes of a police shooting breaches Article 2:
Ramsahai and others v Netherlands App No 52391/99

30.04.2007 Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations come into force

Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 SI No 1263 come into force outlawing discrimination by public authorities on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services and in the exercise of public functions.

06.04.2007 Amendments to Sex Discrimination Act come into force

Amendments to Sex Discrimination Act 1975 come into force making it unlawful for a public authority to discriminate on gender grounds when exercising any function of a public nature (not just in the provision of goods, facilities and services).

28.03.2007 Human Rights Act does not operate retrospectively in relation to Article 2 compliant inquests

House Lords rules there is no duty to hold an Article 2 compliant inquest where the inquest took place before the Human Rights Act came into force:

R (Hurst) v CPM [2007] UKHL 13.

20.12.2006 Inter-relationship between psychiatric harm and aggravated damages

The Court of Appeal provides useful guidance on the inter-relationship between psychiatric harm and aggravated damages. It also confirmed that exemplary damages could be awarded in cases where the defendant is sued vicariously:
Rowlands v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2006] EWCA Civ 1773.

18.12.2006 Dismissive treatment of family member can form basis of race discrimination claim

Court of Appeal finds that a family member being treated dismissively by the police or CPS in a death in custody investigation can form the basis of a race discrimination claim:
Alder v Chief Constable of Humberside Police [2006] EWCA Civ 1741.

04.12.2006 Amendments to Disability Discrimination Act come into force

Amendments to Disability Discrimination Act 1995 come into force making it unlawful for a public authority (including the police) to discriminate on grounds of disability when exercising any function of a public nature (not just in the provision of goods, facilities and services).

13.11.2006 Gloucestershire Police breach Articles 10 and 11

House of Lords finds Gloucestershire Police in breach of Articles 10, 11 and the common law for preventing protestors attending a demonstration at Fairford air base:
R (Laporte) v Chief Constable of Gloucestershire [2006] UKHL 55

29.09.2006 Unsuccessful judicial review of police caution in the House of Lords

Unsuccessful judicial review of police caution in the House of Lords raising fundamental questions at to whether, and if so to what extent, the published policy of a Chief Officer can or should influence or limit the original jurisdiction of any police officer to arrest, charge or caution a person for an offence:

R (Mondelly) v CPM [2006] EWHC 2370 (Admin).

26.09.2006 European Court of Human Rights finds UK Government acted in breach of Article 8

The European Court of Human Rights finds that the UK Government acted in breach of Article 8 as a result of the Prison Service strip-searching two prison visitors for drugs despite an absence of evidence linking them to drug supply:

Wainwright v UK 12350/04 (2006) ECHR 807.

18.07.2006 European Court of Human Rights finds UK in breach of Article 8

The European Court of Human Rights finds that the UK acted in breach of Article 8 as a result of Merseyside police failing to make adequate enquiries before applying for a search warrant. The immunity from suit traditionally conferred upon the police in trespass claims by the Constables Protection Act 1750 does not apply in Article 8 claims: Keegan v UK 28867/03 [2006] ECHR 764.

28.06.2006 Court of Appeal guidance on quantifying damages in malicious prosecution claim

The Court of Appeal provides useful guidance on quantifying basic and aggravated damages in a malicious prosecution claim but errs in suggesting that exemplary damages could not be awarded when the defendant was sued vicariously:
Manley v CPM [2006] EWCA Civ 879.

19.04.2006 Home Office changes scheme for victims of miscarriages of Justice

The Home Office announced the immediate abolition of the discretionary limb of its scheme for compensating victims of miscarriages of justice. Bhatt Murphy and others launch a judicial review of that decision, which is ultimately unsuccessful before the Court of Appeal, in R (Bhatt Murphy (a firm) and others) v Independent Assessor; R (Niazi and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] EWCA Civ 755.

29.03.2006 Claimant must prove s/he has suffered damage to succeed in a misfeasance claim

In Watkins v Home Office and others [2006] UKHL 17, House of Lords rules that a claimant must prove s/he has suffered damage to succeed in a misfeasance claim.

15.03.2006 Court of Appeal finds that Prison Service owed duty of care to vulnerable prisoner

In Home Office v Butchart [2006] EWCA Civ 239,
Court of Appeal finds that the Prison Service owed a duty of care in negligence to a vulnerable prisoner who was required to share a prison cell with another inmate who was a known suicide risk and who subsequently committed suicide when they were together in the cell.

08.03.2006 House of Lords upholds police power to stop and search without reasonable suspicion

In R (Gillan and another) v CPM and another [2006] UKHL 12, the House of Lords upholds police power to stop and search without reasonable suspicion for items that could be used in connection with terrorism.

14.02.2006 Home Office Commences Consultation in Respect of a New Code of Conduct for Police Officers

The proposed new code (read here) incorporates ethics and conduct. The revised procedures for police disciplinary arrangements should, in essence, be based on Acas principles.

21.04.2005 Claimant loses negligence claim against police in House of Lords

In the case of Duwayne Brooks v the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2005] UKHL 24, the Claimant alleged, among other things, that the police had been negligent in failing to recognise him as a victim – he was Stephen Lawrence’s best friend and with him the night he died – and in the way they carried out their subsequent investigation. Although his claim in negligence failed in light of the principles established in the Hill case above, the House of Lords indicated that there would be 'exceptional' or 'outrageous' cases where these principles may not defeat a claim in negligence.

01.04.2004 The Independent Police Complaints Commission commences operation

This body assumes conduct of the complaints system from the now defunct PCA. It has powers to independently investigate all deaths in custody and other very serious complaints, and to supervise or manage investigations into other complaints where appropriate. Most complaints continue to be investigated by police, with rights of appeal to the IPCC for complainants dissatisfied with the outcome of police investigations of their complaints. Greater openness and transparency is said to be the corner stone of the new system, including disclosure of the investigating officer’s report in most cases. Bhatt Murphy and others are continuing to work with the Commission in the hope that the aspirations of those who campaigned for its creation will be realised.

17.03.2004 Court of Appeal clarifies claims in malicious prosecution

Court of Appeal rules that jury should be allowed to consider motives of police in bringing a prosecution, by means of inference.

In Paul v Chief Constable of Humberside [2004] EWCA Civ 308 the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge was wrong to prevent the jury from considering whether there was evidence of bad faith on the part of the police officers who had charged Jason Paul, where there was evidence to support his claim that his arrest was intended to deflect publicity from the shocking death of Christopher Alder in police custody on 1 April 1998. A re-trial was ordered and Mr Paul achieved damages from the jury in 2006.

2004 Greater Manchester Police successfully challenged for permitting officer to retire

Public interest in officers facing discipline should be considered before permitting officers to resign.

R (Coghlan and others) v Greater Manchester Police [2004] EWHC 2801 (Admin)
Judicial Review of the failure to prevent the retirement of a senior police officer notwithstanding judicial conclusion that he had lied on oath. The Court recognised the public interest in permitting the complaints process to proceed. An important test case with regard to the ambit of Chief Officer’s discretion in this area.

23.10.2002 Murder by informant leads to successful civil claim against police for misfeasance

Akenzua and another v SSHD and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2002] EWCA Civ 1470.

2002 Police Reform Act

The Act establishes the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is supported by a raft of statutory instruments revising the complaints and discipline system for police.

02.10.2000 The Human Rights Act 1998 comes into force

The Act extends the nature and extent of remedies for police misconduct.

17.05.2000 Reasons for CPS decisions not to prosecute required for the first time

In a ground breaking judgement anticipating the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998, it was held in R v DPP ex parte Manning and Melbourne [CO/2054/99] (a successful challenge to refusal of the DPP to prosecute prison officers involved in unlawful killing of Alton Manning in custody) that the CPS was required to give reasons for decisions not to prosecute, especially in cases where officers of the state are accused of violations of Articles 2 or 3 of the ECHR.

11.08.1999 Butler report into CPS decision making published

This report investigated decision-making processes within the CPS and in particular concentrated on the deaths in custody of Richard O’Brien and Shiji Lapite, and the torture inflicted in custody on Derek Treadaway. The report criticised the CPS decision making process and lead to substantial change including the requirement to consult independent counsel in serious police cases.

24.02.1999 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report is published

This ground-breaking report considered the wider implications of the botched police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence on 22 April 1993. The report called for systemic changes in police practice, policy and procedure, such as the extension of the Race Relations Act to cover the investigative function of the police and the overhaul of the police complaints system to allow independent investigation of serious complaints.

1998 ECtHR case concerning negligence by police erodes police immunity

In Osman v United Kingdom [1998] 29 EHRR 245 the ECtHR found that the domestic court rulings to the effect that the Osman family could not recover damages in negligence amounted to a breach of their right to a fair hearing (Article 6).

1998 New Civil Procedure Rules give entitlement to disclosure before proceedings are commenced

A radical overhaul of the civil procedure regime extends to victims of police misconduct an entitlement to consider documents relevant to their potential claim before proceedings are commenced. However, efforts to agree a protocol for good practice between police lawyers and victims’ representatives flounder.

17.09.1997 The ECPT investigates lack of accountability for police misconduct

'Serious questions' about procedures for addressing police misconduct raised by European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).

The CPT decided to visit the UK in late 1997 to examine, among other things, procedures in place to deal with police misconduct. The visit was prompted by the unlawful killing verdicts achieved in the cases of Richard O’Brien, Shiji Lapite and Ibrahima Sey and the officers’ apparent immunity from criminal and/or disciplinary sanction. Bhatt Murphy lawyers drew the CPT’s attention to the outcomes achieved in civil claims for damages and the lack of corresponding criminal and/or disciplinary sanction in these non-lethal cases. The CPT was very concerned by what they learned, stating that the CPS seemed to be setting an 'unduly high threshold' in deciding whether to prosecute, and that the PCA seemed to be 'ill-equipped' to carry out its ‘watchdog’ function'. They endorsed many of the Home Office Select Committee recommendations and suggested these be implemented. The government objected to publication of the report over a period of many months.

1997 Guidelines established for damages awards in civil actions against the police

The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis v Thompson and Hsu [1997] EWCA Civ 1042
The Court of Appeal responded to the Commissioner’s appeals against the high levels of compensation awarded in certain police cases by issuing guidelines for assessment. The guidelines brought to an end the extremely high level of awards in some cases but increased the threshold in others. The Court of Appeal rejected the Commissioner’s arguments that non-cooperation with the discredited police complaint system should reduce awards and that the upper limit of awards should be fixed by compensation in personal injury cases.

1997 The DPP is challenged for her failure to prosecute police officers

First instance of a successful challenge to the exercise of the DPP’s prosecutorial discretion.

In R v DPP ex parte Treadaway [1997] EWHC Admin 741, (heard with similar successful challenges brought in respect of the unlawful killing of Richard O’Brien and Shiji Lapite in police custody), the Divisional Court upheld a challenge to the refusal of the DPP to prosecute the police officers involved in the torture of Derek Treadaway (see above) in terms which led to the Attorney General’s decision to set up an inquiry into the handling of such cases within the CPS (the ‘Butler Inquiry’).

1997 The end of statements in open court in litigation against police

In Williamson v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [1997] EWCA Civ 2177, the Court of Appeal ruled that the public vindication sought by a claimant upon the settlement of a claim for malicious prosecution against police did not require a detailed statement of the relevant facts to be read out in open court – all that was required was a recitation of the fact of the acquittal in the prosecution. In effect, this meant that there was no longer any purpose to be served in seeking a statement in open court at all.

1997 - 1998 The Select Committee on Home Affairs recommends an independent police complaints system

This recommendation, in response to the growing lack of public confidence in the police complaints system, led to a Home Office consultation, and ultimately, to the Police Reform Act 2002 and the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

See the Select Committee on Home Affairs Second Special Report: Police Disciplinary and Complaints Procedures

1996 -7 Juries award record damages

Very high jury awards in civil actions against police reflect depth of public concern abuot the misuse of police powers.

At Central London County Court in the space of a number of months, some 9 victims of police misconduct received ground breaking levels of compensation. The first and second of those victims, Claudette Thompson and Kenneth Hsu, faced a test case before the Court of Appeal to defend their awards. Other claimants, such as Trevor Gerald (who received £125,000 damages of which £100,000 was exemplary damages), Janet Scafe (who received £110,000 of which £90,000 was exemplary damages) and Terry Brownbill (who received £150,000 damages of which £100,000 was made up of exemplary damages) had followed advice from Bhatt Murphy lawyers not to co-operate with the discredited police complaint system but to pursue their grievance through the civil courts. While their awards were reduced by compromise or on appeal, they achieved significant public acknowledgement of the serious wrongdoing they had suffered and vindication before the juries.

1995 -7 Families join forces to seek justice for unlawful police killings

Series of unlawful killing verdicts and challenges to the DPP’s decision making lead to increased public disquiet.

A number of high profile cases emerged concerning controversial restraint related deaths in police custody – mostly of black men. Public concern at the apparent lack of sanction for police officers involved in these deaths reached new levels after unlawful killing verdicts were returned by inquest juries in the cases of Richard O’Brien, Shiji Lapite and Ibrahima Sey. Further details are available on the investigating deaths in custody timeline.

See also the Statistics on the INQUEST site.

1994 Finding of torture in police case

In Treadaway v West Midlands Police (The Times, 25 October 1994), £50,000 was awarded by McKinnon J in respect of a claim for damages for assault arising out of the torture of a prisoner to extract a confession – the reasoned judgment in this case was instrumental in the subsequent successful challenge to a decision by the DPP not to prosecute any of the officers involved in the torture (see below).

1994 Damages award contributes to uncovering the Stoke Newington police corruption scandal

First ever settlement to breach a perceived ‘glass ceiling’ of £50,000 in litigation against police - instrumental in uncovering the ‘Operation Jackpot’ scandal of corruption amongst police officers at Stoke Newington.

In King v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1993-K-409), £70,000 was recovered in settlement in a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - first ever settlement of its kind to breach a perceived ‘glass ceiling’ of £50,000 in such cases.

1991 onwards - statements in open court contribute to police accountability

Statements in open court, a device borrowed from libel claims, are utilised to achieve public vindication of those whose claims against police for false imprisonment and/or malicious prosecution came to be satisfied without trial.

In Janardanan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (90/23924), where £40,000 was recovered in settlement of a claim for damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, the jurisdiction of the County Court to allow such statements in open court was recognised for the first time.

In Burnett v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1990-B-1259), where £40,000 was recovered in settlement of a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, the jurisdiction of High Court was recognised to extend to statements in open court upon settlement of assault claims.

1991 1st multi-party action in litigation against police

In Critchlow and others v Sth Yorks Police (QBI-1418/90(E)), a total of £425,000 was recovered in settlement of a claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution on behalf of 39 miners arising out of police operation at Orgreave during miners’ strike.

1989 1st award in excess of GBP 100,000 in litigation against police

In Rupert Taylor v Met Police Com’r, over £100,000 was awarded by a High Court jury following a trial on a claim for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution arising out of the notorious ‘Black Watch’ scandal of corruption amongst officers at Notting Hill.

1987 Yorkshire Ripper case establishes that police have no general duty of care to victims of crime

In the case of Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [1987] 1 All ER 1173 the mother of one of the victims of the Yorkshire Ripper sought damages in respect of the police failure to apprehend Peter Sutcliffe before he killed her daughter. The House of Lords found that where no special relationship existed between the police and a victim of crime, no duty of care arose. They concluded that public policy demanded that police should not be liable in negligence in such cases.

1985 Police Complaints Authority (PCA) established

The PCA was purportedly intended to introduce an element of independent oversight to the investigation of police complaints. The PCA had powers to supervise investigations into serious complaints against police, to decline to certify satisfaction with such an investigation, and to direct disciplinary proceedings where appropriate. In reality, the PCA failed to achieve independence from the police investigators and rarely exercised their statutory powers to require adequate investigations and/or disciplinary proceedings.

1984 Police And Criminal Evidence Act (PACE)

This Act responded to the Scarman report and the Royal Commission that followed. The Act clarified and codified police powers such as those concerned with stop and search and the treatment of detainees in police stations. It is underlined by Codes of Practice, breach of which can amount to commission of a disciplinary offence. The Act established the role of Custody Officer, the requirement to complete a Custody Record and a new Police Complaints Authority.

1981 Scarman Report

Lord Scarman had been asked to review police powers and practices in the wake of serious disturbances in urban areas where it had been felt that police practice had alienated and provoked sections of the community. He called for some form of independent oversight of the investigation of complaints against police.

1976 Police Complaints Board established

This body – comprised of part time lay people whose task was simply to review reports produced by the police upon their investigation of complaints – proved to be toothless, bureaucratic and ineffective.

1970 onwards - calls for an independent police complaints system gather pace

A number of high profile corruption cases and other cases where serious misconduct was alleged (particularly in relation to the Metropolitan Police) led to renewed calls for an independent arbiter of complaints against police.

1964

Police Act requires complaints against police to be recorded and investigated, and establishes a chief officer’s vicarious liability in civil proceedings for the actions of constables in the performance or purported performance of police functions.

The Royal Commission on the Police that led to the Act had considered but did not pursue setting up an independent body to conduct complaint investigations. In addition to requiring that all complaints be recorded, the Act provided for referrals to the DPP in cases where criminal allegations had been made. Following its enactment, there was a massive increase in the number of complaints against police recorded. In response various forces began to develop dedicated teams to investigate allegations of police misconduct against their officers.

 


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