The defendant appealed against her conviction for assaulting a police constable in the execution of his duty. He had sought to caution her with regard to activity as a prostitute. The 1959 Act gave no power to detain, but he took hold of her. She resisted, and injured him.
Held: There was no arrest, and no power implied or otherwise to arrest. The attempted restraint was therefore itself an unlawful assault, and she was entitled to resist, and the conviction was quashed. Battery involves a touching of the person with what is sometimes called hostile intent (as opposed to a friendly pat on the back) meaning any intentional physical contact which was not ‘generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of daily life’. The tort of assault is an act which ’causes another person to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful, force on his person’. False imprisonment is ‘the unlawful imposition of constraint on another’s freedom of movement from a particular place’.
Robert Goff LJ said: ‘[A] broader exception has been created to allow for the exigencies of everyday life. Generally speaking consent is a defence to battery; and most of the physical contacts of ordinary life are not actionable because they are impliedly consented to by all who move in society and so expose themselves to the risk of bodily contact . . Although such cases are regarded as examples of implied consent, it is more common nowadays to treat them as falling within a general exception embracing all physical contact which is generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of daily life . . [We] think that nowadays it is more realistic, and indeed more accurate, to state the broad underlying principle, subject to the broad exception. . . In each case, the test must be whether the physical contact so persisted in has in the circumstances gone beyond generally acceptable standards of conduct; and the answer to that question will depend upon the facts of the particular case.’
‘But, if a police officer, not exercising his power of arrest, nevertheless reinforces his request with the actual use of force, or with the threat, actual or implicit, to use force if the other person does not comply, then his act in thereby detaining the other person will be unlawful’
Robert Goff LJ
 3 All ER 374,  1 WLR 1172, (1984) 79 Cr App R 229,  Crim LR 481, (1984) 148 JP 692
Street Offences Act 1959, Police Act 1964 51(1)
England and Wales
Applied – Rawlings v Till 1837
Applied – Kenlin v Gardner QBD 1967
Two school boys, visiting premises for a lawful purpose, aroused suspicion of police officers on duty in plain clothes. One officer produced his warrant card, stated that they were police officers and asked why they were calling at the houses. The . .
Distinguished – Donnelly v Jackman 1970
Turner J considered the law of attempt: ‘He who sets out to commit a crime may in the event fall short of the complete commission of that crime for any one of a number of reasons. First, he may, of course, simply change his mind before committing . .
Cited – Regina v Brown (Anthony); Regina v Lucas; etc HL 11-Mar-1993
The appellants had been convicted of assault, after having engaged in consensual acts of sado-masochism in which they inflicted varying degreees of physical self harm. They had pleaded guilty after a ruling that the prosecution had not needed to . .
Cited – Wainwright and another v Home Office HL 16-Oct-2003
The claimant and her son sought to visit her other son in Leeds Prison. He was suspected of involvement in drugs, and therefore she was subjected to strip searches. There was no statutory support for the search. The son’s penis had been touched . .
Cited – In Re L (By His Next Friend GE); Regina v Bournewood Community and Mental Health NHS Trust, Ex Parte L HL 25-Jun-1998
The applicant was an adult autistic, unable to consent to medical treatment. Treatment was provided at a day centre. He had been detained informally under the Act and against the wishes of his carers, but the Court of Appeal decided he should have . .
Cited – Mbasogo, President of the State of Equatorial Guinea and Another v Logo Ltd and others CA 23-Oct-2006
Foreign Public Law Not Enforceable Here
The claimant alleged a conspiracy by the defendants for his overthrow by means of a private coup d’etat. The defendants denied that the court had jurisdiction. The claimants appealed dismissal of their claim to damages.
Held: The claims were . .
Cited – F v West Berkshire Health Authority HL 17-Jul-1990
The parties considered the propriety of a sterilisation of a woman who was, through mental incapacity, unable to give her consent.
Held: The appeal succeeded, and the operation would be lawful if the doctor considered it to be in the best . .
Cited – Wilson v Pringle CA 26-Mar-1986
Two boys played in a school yard. D said he had pulled a bag from the other’s shoulder as an ordinary act of horseplay. The plaintiff said it was a battery.
Held: The defendant’s appeal against summary judgment was allowed. A claim of trespass . .
Cited – White v Withers Llp and Dearle CA 27-Oct-2009
The claimant was involved in matrimonial ancillary relief proceedings. His wife was advised by the defendants, her solicitors, to remove his private papers. The claimant now sought permission to appeal against a strike out of his claim against the . .
Cited – Sher and Others v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Others Admn 21-Jul-2010
The claimants, Pakistani students in the UK on student visas, had been arrested and held by the defendants under the 2000 Act before being released 13 days later without charge. They were at first held incognito. They said that their arrest and . .
Cited – AJA and Others v Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis and Others CA 5-Nov-2013
The Court was asked whether the Investigatory Powers Tribunal had the power to investigate whether police officers acrting as undercover agents, and having sexual relations with those they were themselves investigating had infringed the human rights . .
Cited – McMillan v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 12-May-2008
Appeal by case stated by Justices for Sunderland in respect of a decision of the Magistrates’ Court in which the appellant M was convicted of an offence of being drunk and disorderly in a public place. She had been arrested in the front garden of a . .
Cited – Regina v Ireland CACD 14-May-1996
Silent telephone calls which resulted in psychiatric damage to the victim could constitute an ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ for the purposes of section 47 of the 1861 Act. Swinton Thomas LJ said: ‘The early cases pre-date the invention of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Police, Crime, Torts – Other
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.181967