Cumming and others v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police: CA 17 Dec 2003

The six claimants sought damages for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. Each had been arrested on an officer’s suspicion. They operated CCTV equipment, and it appeared that tapes showing the commission of an offence had been tampered with. Each was of good character, and the suspicion was based solely on their opportunity to have access to the tape.
Held: The arrests were justified even though logically no more than two of the group could have committed the alleged offence. A mere opportunity to commit an offence could in the right circumstances constitute sufficient grounds for suspicion of guilt to support an arrest. The officers had done what they could to minimise the number of people under suspicion, and ‘there is nothing in principle which prevents opportunity from amounting to reasonable grounds for suspicion. Indeed in some circumstances opportunity may be sufficient to found a conviction. That would be the case where the prosecution can prove that no one else had the opportunity to commit the offence. The question in the present case is whether opportunity is sufficient to be reasonable grounds for suspecting six people when the likelihood is that it was only one or perhaps two of those six who were responsible. Again there can be nothing in principle wrong with arresting more than one person even if the crime can only have been committed by one person.’ Appeal dismissed.
The President Of The Family Division
[2003] EWCA Civ 1844, Times 02-Jan-2004, Gazette 29-Jan-2004
Bailii
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 24(6)
England and Wales
Citing:
CitedCastorina v Chief Constable of Surrey CA 10-Jun-1988
Whether an officer had reasonable cause to arrest somebody without a warrant depended upon an objective assessment of the information available to him, and not upon his subjective beliefs. The court had three questions to ask (per Woolf LJ): ‘(a) . .
CitedFox, Campbell and Hartley v The United Kingdom ECHR 30-Aug-1990
The court considered the required basis for a reasonable suspicion to found an arrest without a warrant: ‘The ‘reasonableness’ of the suspicion on which an arrest must be based forms an essential part of the safeguard against arbitrary arrest and . .
MentionedO’Hara v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary HL 21-Nov-1996
The plaintiff had been arrested on the basis of the 1984 Act. The officer had no particular knowledge of the plaintiff’s involvement, relying on a briefing which led to the arrest.
Held: A reasonable suspicion upon which an arrest was founded . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Bugdaycay HL 19-Feb-1986
Three applicants had lied on entry to secure admission, stayed for a considerable time, and had been treated as illegal immigrants under section 33(1). The fourth’s claim that upon being returned he would been killed, had been rejected without . .
CitedRegina v Ministry of Defence Ex Parte Smith and Others QBD 7-Jun-1995
An MOD ban on employing homosexuals was not Wednesbury unreasonable, even though it might be out of date. Pannick (counsel for the applicant, approved): ‘The court may not interfere with the exercise of an administrative discretion on substantive . .
CitedHolgate-Mohammed v Duke HL 1984
A police officer had purported to arrest the plaintiff under the 1967 Act, suspecting her of theft. After interview she was released several hours later without charge. She sought damages alleging wrongful arrest. The judge had found that he had . .

Cited by:
CitedAl-Fayed and others v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and others CA 25-Nov-2004
The appellants appealed from dismissal of their claims for wrongful imprisonment by the respondent. Each had attended at a police station for interview on allegations of theft. They had been arrested and held pending interview and then released. Mr . .
CitedLaporte, Regina (on the application of ) v Chief Constable of Gloucestershire HL 13-Dec-2006
The claimants had been in coaches being driven to take part in a demonstration at an air base. The defendant police officers stopped the coaches en route, and, without allowing any number of the claimants to get off, returned the coaches to London. . .
CitedCommissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Raissi CA 12-Nov-2008
The Commissioner appealed against an award of damages for false imprisonment. The claimant had been arrested shortly after a terrorist attack. The judge had held that they had no reasonable belief of his involvement. The Commissioner did not now . .
CitedArmstrong v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police CA 5-Dec-2008
The Chief Constable appealed against a finding that the claimant had been arrested for rape without reasonable grounds. A description of the rapist had been given which the claimant met in several respects, but from which he clearly differed in . .
CitedRichardson v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police QBD 29-Mar-2011
The claimant, a teacher, said he had been unlawfully arrested and detained after an allegation of assault from a pupil. Having attended the police station voluntarily, he said that the circumstances did not satisfy the required precondition that an . .
CitedHowarth v Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis QBD 3-Nov-2011
howarth_cmpQBD2011
The claimant sought judicial review of a decision to search him whilst travelling to a public protest in London. A previous demonstration involving this group had resulted in criminal damage, but neither the claimant nor his companions were found to . .
CitedFitzpatrick and Others v The Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis QBD 11-Jan-2012
fitzpatrick_compolQBD2012
The claimants, two solicitors and their employer firm sought damages alleging trespass and malicious procurement by police officers in obtaining and executing search warrants against the firm in 2007 when they were investigating suspected offences . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 10 January 2021; Ref: scu.188909