R (on the application of TL) v Chief Constable of Surrey

If there are reasonable grounds for belief that questioning or imposition of bail conditions are necessary for effective investigation, an arrest…

Executive summary

If there are reasonable grounds for belief that either (a) questioning or (b) the imposition of bail conditions were necessary for the prompt and effective investigation of a complaint pursuant to section 24(e) of PACE, an arrest could be lawful. The court left open whether an intended search pursuant to section 18 of PACE could justify an arrest on grounds of necessity. 

Background

The claimant’s former partner (LM) made allegations of sexual assault and rape against him on 27 March 2016. On 1 April 2016, the claimant was informed that the police wished to interview him and it was clear that the allegations were of a sexual nature. On 2 April, the officer in the case (OIC) spoke to the claimant and advised him not to speak to LM about her complaint. He gave an assurance that he would not and said he was willing to be interviewed. 

The OIC also made a log entry on 2 April which made it clear that he intended to arrest the claimant before he had taken the opportunity to speak to him or LM. Another officer determined that the arrest should not take place until LM had been interviewed. She was spoken to on 20 April and arrangements were then made for the claimant to attend a police station on 23 May. He was under the impression that attendance would be voluntary, but the decision had already been made to arrest him because of the risk of him destroying evidence and the need to impose bail conditions to prevent interference with LM.

When the claimant attended Guildford Police Station on 23 May, he was arrested. He was told his arrest was necessary for the prompt and effective investigation of the offence, to prevent interference with LM, to search premises and to obtain evidence by questioning. He was interviewed, the search was carried out and he was bailed with conditions not to contact LM. On 19 September, he was informed that no further action would be taken.

The claimant brought judicial review proceedings claiming the arrest was unlawful. The point in issue was the necessity to arrest.

Decision

The court applied the Court of Appeal test set out in Hayes v Chief Constable of Merseyside. The arresting officer must honestly believe the arrest is necessary and the decision must be one, viewed objectively, made on reasonable grounds. Necessity does not mean desirable or convenient.

The court did not accept that the OIC believed it was necessary to arrest the claimant for interview. He had effectively decided to arrest on 2 April, before he had spoken to LM or the claimant. It was not his intention to carry out the arrest until after LM had been interviewed and it was not possible to discern the basis upon which arrest had become necessary to interview him. The claimant had also stated that he would attend on a voluntary basis and would not contact LM – something the OIC did not appear to doubt. Turning to the need for bail conditions, the court did not accept on the facts of the case that there were objective grounds to believe that bail conditions were necessary. The court did accept that in principle the imposition of bail conditions could justify an arrest on grounds of necessity for the prompt and effective investigation of an offence.

The court then asked if the protection of LM could render the arrest necessary under section 25(5)(d) of PACE, which deals with the need to protect vulnerable persons. The court again rejected this argument saying there was no evidence of an assessment of LM’s vulnerability, her credibility or the claimant’s cooperation over a seven week period. That would be expected if section 24(5) (d) was being applied.

Finally, the court concluded that the officers did not have reasonable grounds for believing it was necessary to arrest the claimant to exercise S.18 search powers. Given the long delays, it could not be said that the matter was so urgent that a search warrant could not be obtained. The court reserved judgement as to whether a S.18 search could be used to justify an arrest on ground of necessity.

Comment

This case turns upon its facts. The claimant had not interfered with LM during a protracted investigation and was willing to attend voluntary interview. On the facts, the necessity of the arrest was not made out. The court did, usefully, state that the imposition of bail conditions may be sufficient to make an arrest necessary and kept the door open on the position regarding search under S.18.

For further information about Weightmans, or this update, please contact John Riddell, Partner, on 0116 242 8925 or by email at john.riddell@weightmans.com

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