Cowan and Another v The Chief Constable for Avon and Somerset Constabulary: CA 14 Nov 2001

Where police had been called to an incident where a member of the public had been threatened with violence if he did not leave premises, did not have a duty to take action under the Act toward the applicant. It is only if a particular responsibility towards an individual arises, establishing a sufficiently close relationship, that a duty of care is owed to that individual. An officer’s presence at a scene was not enough alone to give rise to a duty. In this case they were present to prevent a breach of the peace, not to intervene in or assess private relations.


Lord Justice Robert Walker, Lord Justice Keene, Sir Christopher Slade


Times 11-Dec-2001, [2001] EWCA Civ 1699, (2002) HLR 830




Protection from Eviction Act 1977


England and Wales


CitedChief Constable of Northumbria v Costello CA 3-Dec-1998
A woman police officer was attacked by a prisoner in a cell. She sought damages for the failure of a senior officer nearby not to come to her aid, and from the chief constable under his vicarious liability.
Held: The chief constable’s appeal . .
CitedCapital and Counties Plc and Another v Hampshire County Council QBD 26-Apr-1996
The Fire Brigade was negligent in turning off a sprinkler system in a burning building. . .

Cited by:

CitedBrooks v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others HL 21-Apr-2005
The claimant was with Stephen Lawrence when they were both attacked and Mr Lawrence killed. He claimed damages for the negligent way the police had dealt with his case, and particularly said that they had failed to assess him as a victim of crime, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Negligence

Updated: 04 June 2022; Ref: scu.166817