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.
04.03.2015 Supreme Court considers domestic extremism database
In R(Catt) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others  UKSC 9, the Supreme Court decided (by a majority of 4 to 1) that it was lawful for police forces to keep records on 90 year old war veteran John Catt’s lawful public political activities on the domestic extremism database. The Court ruled that the state’s collection of records on citizens’ political activities amounts to an interference with their privacy rights requiring justification but that it was justified in Mr Catt’s case.
11.02.2015 Zenati v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the Crown Prosecution Service
Court of Appeal confirms that Article 5 requires the police and the CPS to act expeditiously both in investigating alleged offences when a person is in custody, and in ensuring that a suspect is brought speedily before a court where the evidence reveals that there is no longer reasonable suspicion to suspect the person of the offence(s).
06.02.2015 IPT rules against security services for the first time
For the first time in its fifteen year history, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled against the intelligence and security services, holding that the British intelligence services acted unlawfully in accessing millions of people’s personal communications collected by the USA’s National Security Agency.
28.01.2015 Supreme Court considers duty of care and duty to protect under Article 2
Supreme Court considers duty of care and duty to protect under Article 2 where there has been police failure to protect: Michael and others v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police and another  UKSC 2
Supreme Court allows claim under Article 2 to proceed but does not take the opportunity to uphold or depart from the Hill reasoning regarding core immunity from suit in negligence.
21.10.2014 R (Chief Constable of the West Yorkshire Police) v IPCC
Court of Appeal provides important clarification of the role of the IPCC (and by analogy police professional standards departments) when investigating complaints under the Police Reform Act. It is their role to evaluate the evidence and determine whether or not there is a case to answer in respect of misconduct or gross misconduct, but not to determine whether misconduct or gross misconduct has been committed or to appear to determine any question of civil or criminal liability.
28.02.2014 First High Court judgment to consider Article 3 investigative duty
First High Court judgment to consider operation of Article 3 investigative duty in the investigation by police of sexual violence: DSD and NBV v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWHC 436 (QB)
The claimants were both victims of the serial rapist John Worboys who committed more than a hundred drug and alcohol assisted rapes and sexual assaults on female passengers of his black taxi.
15.11.2013 Court of Appeal considers jurisdiction of Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Court of Appeal considers jurisdiction of Investigatory Powers Tribunal to hear claims relating to undercover police officers entering into sexual relationships with political activists: AKJ and others v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others  EWCA Civ 1342
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.
13.06.2013 Bogus civil proceedings can give rise to claim in malicious prosecution
In Crawford Adjusters & Ors v Sagicor General Insurance (Cayman) Limited  UKPC 17
Privy Council decide (by a 3 – 2 majority) that a person who brought bogus civil proceedings could be sued in malicious prosecution.
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  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  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  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  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
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
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  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
 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
 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
 EWCA Civ 18.
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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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  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
 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
2002 Police Reform 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
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  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.
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.