Emma Price successfully defends necessity challenge to arrest following harassment and domestic abuse allegations in civil jury trial

28 February 2023

Emma Price was instructed by Weightmans LLP, on behalf of the Chief Constable of Sussex Police. The Claimant was arrested after his ex-partner gave a statement to the police in which she alleged that the Claimant was constantly harassing her by texting and calling her, had been violent to her during their past relationship, had threatened violence against her new partner, had been outside her property kicking the door and being verbally abusive several months previously and had recently barged his way into her property. The Claimant alleged that the arresting officer (who had done the initial investigation and taken the complainant’s statement) had simply followed orders to arrest without addressing his mind to the necessity of arrest and that he had not considered voluntary interview, which was an appropriate alternative to arrest in this case. 

Having heard the evidence at the civil jury trial at the County Court in Brighton, HHJ Simpkiss ruled that there were no factual questions which it would be appropriate to leave to the jury to decide.  There was “no evidence whatsoever” that the arresting officer was simply following orders to arrest. He gave careful consideration to the available evidence and clearly identified the reasons that it was necessary to arrest the Claimant, to protect the complainant and to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the suspected offence, which were recorded on the custody record. This was a potentially serious domestic abuse case and the police had no idea where it would lead. There was “a highly significant level of context and detail” provided by the arresting officer during his evidence and “not a shred of evidence to contradict it or his evidence”. Further, the “overwhelming evidence” was that the arresting officer considered alternatives before deciding to arrest the Claimant.

HHJ Simpkiss then addressed his mind to whether the arresting officer’s belief that it was necessary to arrest the Claimant was objectively reasonable. In finding that it was and dismissing the claim, HHJ Simpkiss concluded that, viewing all of the evidence police had, “the only decision that could possibly have been made was to interview the Claimant under arrest at a police station”; a voluntary interview would not have been appropriate in the circumstances of this case, circumstances in which arrest would be usual (although not a foregone conclusion) because of the risks and inability to carry out an effective interview if the police are not able to apply bail conditions, as well as the risk that messages on the suspect’s phone might be deleted and the need to carry out other searches of the phone.


Emma Price

Call 2007

Related areas

Police Law


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