Roberts v Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary: CA 26 Jan 1999

The claimant had been detained at 11.25pm. His detention was not reviewed by an inspector until 7.45am the next morning, although it had been considered in the interim at 1.45am by an officer of junior rank. The plaintiff sued for unlawful imprisonment for the period of 2 hours and 20 minutes from 5.25am (when the first review should have taken place in accordance with sections 40(1)(b) and 40(3)(a)) until 7.45am. The plaintiff succeeded at trial,and was awarded andpound;500 in damages.
Held: The Chief Constable’s appeal was dismissed. The duty to review a suspect’s detention within six hours is absolute and a failure to review with a continued detention constitutes wrongful imprisonment until the defect is remedied. Damages may be limited where the suspect was asleep and would not in any event have been released.
Clarke LJ said: ‘In these circumstances the judge held that the plaintiff was being unlawfully detained as from 5.25am. I agree. Section 34(1) of the Act is mandatory. As already stated, it provides that a person shall not be kept in police detention except in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Act. The plaintiff was detained at 11.25pm on 30 July, so that by section 40(3)(a) a review of his detention should have taken place before 5.25am on 31 July. No such review took place. It follows, as I see it, that from that time the plaintiff was not being detained in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Act. It further follows from section 34(1) that his detention was thereafter unlawful until some event occurred to make it lawful.’


Clarke LJ


Times 27-Jan-1999, Gazette 17-Feb-1999, [1999] EWCA Civ 655, [1999] 1 WLR 662, [1999] 2 Cr App R 243




Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 34


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedSK, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 25-Jan-2008
The claimant was a Zimbabwean National who was to be removed from the country. He was unlawfully held in detention pending removal. He sought damages for false imprisonment. He had been held over a long period pending decisions in the courts on the . .
CitedSK (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 6-Nov-2008
Immigration detention proper after prison release
The Home Secretary appealed against a finding that he had unlawfully detained the applicant. The applicant had been detained on release from prison pending his return to Zimbabwe as recommended by the sentencing judge under section 6 of the 1971 . .
CitedMC (Algeria), Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 31-Mar-2010
The claimant challenged his detention under the 1971 Act, now appealing against refusal of judicial review. His asylum claims had been rejected, and he had been convicted of various offences, including failures to answer bail. He had failed to . .
CitedCraik, Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, Regina (on The Application of) v Newcastle Upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court Admn 30-Apr-2010
The claimant a retired Chief Constable sought judicial review of a decision to commit him for trial on a charge of unlawful imprisonment. The suspect and now prosecutor had been arrested and held in custody, but without the necessary timely review . .
CriticisedLumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
CitedKambadzi (previously referred to as SK (Zimbabwe)) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 25-May-2011
False Imprisonment Damages / Immigration Detention
The respondent had held the claimant in custody, but had failed to follow its own procedures. The claimant appealed against the rejection of his claim of false imprisonment. He had overstayed his immigration leave, and after convictions had served a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Police

Updated: 30 November 2022; Ref: scu.88808