Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police v Hepburn: CA 13 Dec 2002

The claimant sought damages from the police. They had executed a search warrant, and one officer detained the claimant during the raid.
Held: A person who mistakenly restrained an individual in the mistaken belief that he had been lawfully arrested is liable for trespass to the person. The terms of the warrant had to be carefully applied. The warrant provided for a search of the premises, but included no power to detain a person found on the premises. A citizen’s freedom of movement is inviolable save under express power: ‘honest belief in a non-existent state of affairs does not excuse a trespass to the person’. An obstruction could give a power of arrest, but there was no implied power as suggested by the Chief Constable. Late amendments of the sort allowed here should be discouraged.


Lord Justice Brooke, Lord Justice Sedley, Lord Justice Tuckey


[2002] EWCA Civ 1841, Times 19-Dec-2002, [2002] All ER (D) 214, [2002] Po LR 38




Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedKeegan and Others v Chief Constable of Merseyside CA 3-Jul-2003
The police had information suggesting (wrongly) that a fugitive resided at an address. An armed raid followed, and the claimant occupant sought damages.
Held: The tort of malicious procurement of a search warrant required it to be established . .
DistinguishedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Meaden Admn 1-Dec-2003
The defendant had been charged with assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty. The prosecutor appealed a finding of no case to answer. He had been present in a house when the police executed search warrants. He had refused to obey an . .
CitedAshley and Another v Sussex Police CA 27-Jul-2006
The deceased was shot by police officers raiding his flat in 1998. The claimants sought damages for his estate. They had succeeded in claiming damages for false imprisonment, but now appealed dismissal of their claim for damages for assault and . .
CitedAshley and Another v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 23-Apr-2008
The claimants sought to bring an action for damages after a family member suspected of dealing drugs, was shot by the police. At the time he was naked. The police officer had been acquitted by a criminal court of murder. The chief constable now . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Torts – Other, Litigation Practice

Updated: 24 October 2022; Ref: scu.178445