Swales v Cox: CA 1981

Police officers had entered a house in pursuit of a suspected burglar.
Held: It is a condition of any lawful breaking of premises that the person seeking entry has demanded and been refused entry by the occupier.
Donaldson LJ said: ‘it is conceded in this case that (the trial judge) correctly analysed the position at common law . . as follows:
that there was power of entry into premises at common law and, if necessary, power to break doors to do so in four cases, but in four cases only; that is to say by a constable or a citizen in order to prevent murder; by a constable or a citizen if a felony had in fact been committed and the felon had been followed to a house; by a constable or a citizen
if a felony was about to be committed, and would be committed, unless prevented; and by a constable following an offender running away from an affray. In any other circumstances there was no power to enter premises without a warrant, and, even in the four cases where there was power not only to enter but to break in order to do so, it was an essential pre-condition that there should have been a demand and refusal by the occupier to allow entry before the doors could be broken.’

Donaldson LJ
[1981] QB 849, [1981] 1 All ER 1115, [1981] 2 WLR 814
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedRegina v Jones (Margaret), Regina v Milling and others HL 29-Mar-2006
Domestic Offence requires Domestic Defence
Each defendant sought to raise by way of defence of their otherwise criminal actions, the fact that they were attempting to prevent the commission by the government of the crime of waging an aggressive war in Iraq, and that their acts were . .
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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Land, Torts – Other

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.239968