Hough v Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police: CA 14 Feb 2001

Where a constable arrested someone based upon information on the police national computer, he was not to be held accountable for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, if the information upon which that had in turn been based, did not justify the suspicion. The issue was whether the constable acted reasonably in relying upon that information. The entry itself was reasonable and objective cause for his suspicion, and arrest of the claimant. If information received from a member of the public could be an appropriate basis for an arrest, why should that same information cease to be such a basis when transformed into an entry on the computer.
The chief constable appealed against a finding of false imprisonment and assault, saying the claimant had been arrested properly. He was a passenger in a car which was mistakenly listed as ‘of interest’.
Held: The chief constable’s appeal succeeded. The critical question to be asked in all cases is what is in the mind of the arresting officer: he can never be a ‘mere conduit’ for someone else. It is for that reason insufficient for an arresting officer to rely solely upon an instruction to carry out the arrest. Conversely, however, where the arresting officer’s suspicion is formed on the basis of a police national computer entry, that entry is likely to provide the necessary objective justification. If information from an informer or member of the public can properly found suspicion sufficient for an arrest, why too should not an apparently responsible entry in the computer?
Simon Brown LJ VP, Longmore J
Times 14-Feb-2001, Gazette 05-Apr-2001, [2001] EWCA Civ 39
England and Wales
CitedO’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 . .
Gazette 15-Jan-97, Times 13-Dec-96, [1996] UKHL 6, [1997] AC 286, [1997] 1 All ER 129, [1997] 2 WLR 1, [1996] NI 8, [1997] Crim LR 432, [1997] 1 Cr App Rep 447
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 . .
12244/86, 12245/86, (1990) 13 EHRR 157, [1990] ECHR 18, 12383/86

Cited by:
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 . .
[2008] EWCA Civ 1582

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 18 December 2020; Ref: scu.81482