Blackburn v Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis: CA 1968

By common law police officers owe to the general public a duty to enforce the criminal law. However, police are servants of no one but the law itself, and a chief officer of police has a wide discretion as to the manner in which the duty is discharged. It is for him to decide how available resources should be deployed, whether particular lines of inquiry should or should not be followed and even whether or not certain crimes should be prosecuted. It is only if his decision upon such matters is such as no reasonable chief officer of police would arrive at that someone with an interest to do so may be in a position to have recourse to judicial review. The police do not act under the direction of the Home Office or any other part of the Executive.

Lord Denning MR, Salmon LJ, Scarman LJ
[1968] 2 QB 118, [1968] 2 WLR 893
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedStratton, Regina (on The Application of) v Thames Valley Police Admn 7-Jun-2013
The claimant requested the court to set aside a caution accepted by her, when she said that she had not understood the serious consequences and had not admitted the offence.
Held: It was for each Chief Constable to draft his own policy, but . .
CitedRobinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police SC 8-Feb-2018
Limits to Police Exemption from Liability
The claimant, an elderly lady was bowled over and injured when police were chasing a suspect through the streets. As they arrested him they fell over on top of her. She appealed against refusal of her claim in negligence.
Held: Her appeal . .
CitedBelhaj and Another v Director of Public Prosecutions and Another SC 4-Jul-2018
Challenge to decision not to prosecute senior Intelligence Service officials for alleged offences in connection with his unlawful rendition and mistreatment in Libya. The issue here was whether on the hearing of the application for judicial review, . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.510703