The Editor's Blog

4 - Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Appellant) v DSD and another (Respondents) [2018] UKSC 11 - Implications for the Police

The law has repeatedly made clear that police cannot in general terms be sued for negligence, nor can they be sued if they fail to catch an offender, nor can they be sued if because of a slow moving investigation, they fail to catch an offender prior to the commission of further offences.

Under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights the state has a duty to prevent citizens becoming victims of torture, and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  There are no exceptions or limitations on this right.

The effect of this ruling is that

In other words, police forces are under a clear obligation to prove they had effectively and exhaustively investigated a serious violent crime, i.e. that the specific operational steps taken to identify the offender were effective. If the investigation is seriously defective, even if no systemic failures are present, this will be enough to render the police liable."

This means that:

Not every failing in an investigation will be actionable and the test for liability is more than mere negligence, i.e. a failing must be: