Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED March 7, 2003

A police officer had acted within the execution of his duty when using reasonable force to remove the appellant's mother from a custody suite to ensure the operational effectiveness of the police station.Appeal by way of case stated against the decision of Hereford Magistrates' Court on 9 July 2002 to convict the appellant ('B') of assault on a police officer acting in the execution of his duty. B had attended a police station with her mother who acted in the capacity of an appropriate adult. B's mother had been asked to wait outside the custody suite but instead had entered it. When the custody sergeant physically escorted B's mother from the custody suite, B became verbally abusive and aggressive and assaulted the sergeant. B submitted that: (i) the police had been acting outside the execution of their duty because they were not arresting her mother, nor trying to arrest her, nor acting to prevent a breach of the peace; (ii) the powers of the police were circumscribed by statute and the common law to protect the liberty of the citizen; and (iii) the "detention" of her mother by the use of the force necessary to remove her from the custody suite infringed that liberty.HELD: (1) The custody sergeant had not detained B's mother, but had merely used reasonable force to remove B's mother in order to maintain the operational effectiveness of the custody suite. (2) In circumstances where B and her mother had been asked to wait outside the custody suite, had insisted on entering it and had then displayed loutish behaviour, the custody sergeant was entirely entitled to ask them to leave and use reasonable force when they failed to comply with that request. (3) B and her mother had been in the position of any persons who had had an invitation to any premises revoked and it was difficult to see why police officers should have any lesser right to remove such persons. (4) A contrary conclusion in relation to custody suites in police stations would lead to a completely unworkable situation.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWHC 580 (Admin)