Hinchcliffe v Sheldon: QBD 20 Jan 1955

The appellant was the son of the licensee of an inn. On returning to the inn one night at about 11.17, he found that police officers wished to enter the premises as they suspected that the licensee was committing an offence under the Licensing Act 1953. He shouted warnings to the licensee, who did not open the door to the police officers until 11.25 p.m. The licensee was not found to be committing any offence. The police had the right to enter licensed premises, whether an offence was being committed or not. The appellant was convicted under section 2 of the 1885 Act which prescribes the punishment for an assault on a constable in the execution of his duty, ‘shall apply to all cases of resisting or wilfully obstructing any constable or peace officer in the execution of his duty.’ On appeal, he submitted that he could not be convicted of obstructing a constable when in the execution of his duty unless it was shown that the licensee had committed an offence.
Held: ‘obstructing’, within the meaning of s. 2 of the Prevention of Crimes Amendment Act 1885 meant making it more difficult for the police to carry out their duties; under s. 151 (1) of the Licensing Act 1953 it was the duty of the police to enter licensed premises if they thought it likely tbat an offence might be committed, and, therefore, the appellant, in making it difficult for the police to enter the inn, was guilty of wilfully obstructing a constable when in the execution of his duty, and was rightly convicted under s. 2 of the Act of 1885.
Lord Goddard CJ, Cassels, Streatfield JJ
[1955] NZ Police Law Rp 18, [1955] 1 WLR 1207, [1955] 3 All ER 406, (1955) 120 JP 13
Prevention of Crimes Amendment Act 1885 2, Licensing Act 1953 151
England and Wales
DistinguishedBastable v Little 1907
The police had set up a series of speed traps in London Road, Croydon. Mr Little occupied himself giving warning signals to drivers approaching the traps, thus ensuring that they did not exceed the speed limit. There was no evidence that the drivers . .

Cited by:
CitedLunt v Director of Public Prosecutions QBD 1993
The defendant had been in a road traffic accident. The police came to his house to investigate the accident, but he refused to unlock the door to allow them entry. Stating reliance on section 4 of the 1988 Act, the officers threatened to force . .
CitedRice v Connolly 1966
No Legal Duty to Assist a Constable
At common law there is no legal duty to provide the police with information or otherwise to assist them with their inquiries. Lord Parker set out three questions to be answered when asking whether there had been an obstruction of an officer in the . .
CitedMcCann v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 21-Aug-2015
Appeal by case stated against conviction for obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty. The appellant had been protesting. She, correctly, thought the land to be a rivate highway. The police officer had thought it a public hghway and . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 22 July 2021; Ref: scu.550174