The documents provide details of the findings from relevant challenges to the disclosure of information under Part V of the Police Act 1997. The documents further clarify the requirements and responsibilities placed on forces under the act and disclosure units will find this material of use in their considerations of relevance.
Should you become aware of any new or additional case law that you think others may find useful please email the standards and compliance unit.
In addition to the stated cases, the Government Legal Service Department document The Judge Over Your Shoulder, published by the Treasury Solicitors Department, contains some very useful information on the judicial review process as well as some background on the terms/references that are frequently used within the stated cases (such as ‘reasonable’ and ‘Wednesbury Principles’).
The judgement in the case R (S) vs C.C. West Mercia is presented here for your information.
R (S) v C.C. West Mercia
West Mercia Police were kind enough to review this case for the benefit of colleagues considering disclosure. A significant factor in this case was the identification of the alleged offender. Evidence was provided by the applicant that impacted on the Judge’s assessment of the weight of that evidence, in that it was concluded that in the absence of the case papers that it was very unlikely that it might be true.
In reaching this decision the court went no further than in X, where it was accepted that there could be cases where the information should not be included in the certificate because it is disproportionate to do so; the information might be as to some trifling matter; it may be that the evidence made it so unlikely that the information was correct, that it again would be disproportionate to disclose it.
In fact, Lord Woolf gave as an example that a good reason for non disclosure would be where a view was formed that the case involved mistaken identity. In this case the Judge noted that the circumstances surrounding the acquittal are all important. There will be instances where an alleged offender is acquitted but only because the Magistrates (or Jury) entertain a reasonable doubt about the alleged offender’s guilt.
The tribunal of fact may harbour substantial doubts. In such circumstances, however, it might well be perfectly reasonable and rational for a Chief Constable to conclude that the alleged offender might have committed the alleged offence. It is not our role to reinvestigate the incident and on many occasions, at for example Crown Court, the only information is the acquittal and it would appear this judgement places no further, or onerous, duty on police than that set out in X.
However, and bearing in mind the Treasury Solicitors guidance that a decision maker should take account of all the relevant considerations and where information might be available that should be taken account of, particular care needs to be taken where identity is at issue, or raised by the applicant and this principle would extend to circumstances where the information led one to consider, for example, there was doubt as to the credibility of a witness.
In R (B) v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis a similar consideration of the might be true test against the allegation was considered and from this a consideration of whether the information was not so obviously devoid of substance is a useful guide.
‘There may be cases where, although the information supplied by the chief officer of police is correct so far as it goes, it is in fact thoroughly misleading, whether by reason of suggestion falsi or supressio veri. For example, the statement that ‘K has been prosecuted for the rape of L’ may be entirely correct, so far as it goes, but may in fact be thoroughly misleading, if, for example, it omits to add, ‘but was acquitted by the jury’ or, as the case may be, ‘was exonerated after the police discovered that the rape was in fact committed by M, who has subsequently been convicted.’
R (P) vs Thames Valley 2008
R (C) vs GMP May 2010 - Appeal Jan 2011