Police immunity from negligence


9 Jan 2007
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United Kingdom

A young woman was murdered by her boyfriend after asking for help from the police. Despite her telling them that he had threatened to kill her, for some reason the matter was downgraded from 'requiring an immediate response'. The dead woman's family have been attempting to sue the police for negligence but their claim was turned down.

"Ms Michael's parents and children won the right to try to bring a claim for damages against both police forces in 2011, but it was thrown out by the Court of Appeal because police officers have immunity from negligence claims."

So why do the police have legal immunity from negligence? The rest of us don't benefit from this exception.
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Are there different levels of 'negligence' in law? eg 'criminal negligence'?
Might sound harsh but the police didn't force her to get in with this maniac. Only have to look at the amount of domestic abuse cases where after doing loads of legwork the battered person drops all charges.
Without knowing ALL the details about the case we can only speculate.

Maybe she phoned back and said he had calmed down/apologised. Maybe he had gone out as she was on the phone to the police, only to return a short time later and commit the act.

Maybe she had history of calling them and then dropping the accusations.

As I said, without ALL the facts, we can only speculate.
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Yes. Perfectly true. I should imagine the police are pretty fed up with women complaining about domestic violence and then the next minute saying they have forgiven him.

In my opinion, if women do this they should be obliged to go to court and follow the matter through - for their own good. Some men are very good at talking women around.
Admittedly, it was a long time ago that I did the research, but from memory, the police, as an institution are immune from quite a few things that others are not, such as libel or slander, compensation, etc.
As long as they are acting according to procedure, any damage caused by their actions has no liability.
e.g. the recent Cliff Richard debacle, the police would be beyond legal or civil action.
Of course their procedures are never questioned until they are shown to be lacking.
If/when they make a compensation payment, it is purely out of "public interest", e.g. compensation for breaking down the wrong door, etc.

The compensation payments for wrongful prison sentences are made by government, (Home Office, I believe.) but are only applicable where public interest is served or an injustice, e.g. out-of-order or procedure, has been proved to have occurred.

E.g, in the recent Colin Norris instance, because he was found guilty by jury, if some future appeal finds him not guilty he would have no opportunity to claim any compensation for the last seven years in prison.

I understand an English "not guilty" verdict has the same standing as a Scottish "Not Proven" verdict, i.e neither are an "innocent" verdict.
The strange thing is that the police can sue you if they are injured while responding to you call, a garage owner was sued by a police woman who sprained her ankle while investigating a suspected break in at his Garage.