In this article, we explore the potential issues faced by possible Claimants for seeking compensatory recourse following failures by the Police in criminal investigations where such Claimants are the victims within the same.
It is regretfully well-established law that Claimants are usually prohibited from specifically bringing legal action against the Police for mere Negligence. This is because it has been held by the Courts that the general duty of the Police is to suppress crime and this does not carry with it an additional duty to protect individuals during investigations albeit the Police do have a duty in some scenarios to avoid causing personal injury to members of the public. Clearly, this poses an issue for those individuals who have been a victim of a crime but yet their assailants have not been brought to justice due to failures by the Police in the said criminal investigations.
Thankfully, this issue that we at Irvings Law have recognised has been recently more appreciated by the Courts such as in the case of DSD. The Court in DSD set down the Police now have a positive duty to investigate serious offences committed that fall within Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and if this duty is breached, it must be a serious and/or egregious one. Article 3 provides all people with the right to be free from torture, degrading or inhumane treatment and on application would therefore include victims of sexual assaults as alluded to by the Court in the DSD case. Given this finding, we at Irvings Law have successfully thereafter ever since brought numerous compensation cases against the Police for victims following instances where they have committed serious and/or egregious errors during sexual assault investigations a couple of which can be found below:
Despite the above allowing more recourse for Claimants whom have been failed by the Police, we at Irvings Law believe that there still remains work to do by the Courts. Firstly, the current level of failure must be serious and/or egregious which is a standard that we deem to be too high. Secondly, the application of what is tortuous, degrading or inhuman treatment remains limited to sexual assault investigation when there are many other crimes that should fall into this bracket. Lastly and probably the most unfair in our view is that Claimants only have up to one year from the alleged Police failing to commence a human rights claim under Article 3. This is problematic as in some situations, Claimant are either not aware of such a failing until after the year deadline has passed or if they are, the Police’s complaint investigation takes longer than the same. Despite these issues, we at Irvings Law remain committed to attempting to convince the Courts to keep extending their view on Claimants’ ability to claim compensatory recourse for Police failings no matter how big or small they are or what for.