Handbook Legal Studies

In the case of Osman v Ferguson4 the courts dismissed the applicants claim that the Police had negligently failed to arrest Paget-Lewis, who was Ahmet Osman's former schoolteacher. The Police had failed to arrest Paget-Lewis on any charge after interviewing him on the basis of complaints made to them from the Osman family. Tragically for the Osman's, Paget-Lewis went on to conduct the threats he had made, and on the 7th of March, Paget-Lewis seriously injured Ahmet Osman, and killing his father.

And so the courts found that this case satisfied the proximity requirements that were needed to show that the Police did infact owe the Osman's a duty of care as their relationship was sufficiently proximate. However the case was a failure, as the English court applied the immunity from Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.

Even though the case suggested that the Osman's had actively sought to make the Police aware of the situation and requested that they take note of their complaints, so that this would differentiate the situation the family was in from other complaints that the Police receive on a daily basis. This goes to show that even though the Osman's followed a text book procedure to have their situation personalised in the sense that they made the Police aware of their circumstances, so that the Police then are involved as they owed the Osman's a duty of care. Where Immunity got struck out from the courts

In the case of Swinney v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police Force5 the court held, "A special relationship between the plaintiffs and the Police through the assumption by the Police of responsibility to preserve the confidentiality of information supplied by the first plaintiff, disclosure of which was likely to expose the plaintiffs to a risk greater than the ordinary risk to the general public; that the immunity generally conferred on police officers from actions in negligence in relation to the investigation or suppression of crime had weighed against the need to protect the confidentiality of informants without fear of disclosure of identity; that it was necessary to make a balanced assessment of all the public policy considerations in order determine the question of immunity, and that the appropriate time to make such an assessment was at the trial. " And so when the court heard all of the facts, the court found that it was arguable that the Police were not infact immune from the claim brought against them. My opinions / beliefs

Now that I have looked an assessed as well as criticised two cases that both have legal standing, I will portray my beliefs on the topic. I believe that the Police should not have to Police defensively and think about court cases that may arise from them acting out their duties that their job requires them to do so. As this in my opinion would make officer's act differently in situations they make think are easy to handle or those that have a straight forward solution to them. I do believe that there are some good principles to the currently system that is being enforced, like; the way Police do not posses an immunity against torts such as assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Where the Police conduct these acts as deliberate misconduct.

Another good principle in the logic of understanding immunity and the Police occurs when it is determined that immunity has been applied when the police have played an indirect role in the accident by failing to intervene to deal with harm caused by a third Party, natural event or the claimant. The immunity will not be applied if the Police intervene in a positive and direct aspect. Questions / statements left unanswered The question that I believe needs answering before anybody can have a strong viewpoint on the topic is that of, we know that something needs to be achieved to change the current policy on Police immunity, however if the policy as it stands no was to be changed, what would it be changed to? Who would it benefit more? Would the public / Police be getting a better deal?

And would changing any of the above mean that Police officers could not do their job properly because they are unable to work to serve the public to the best of their ability because they are too busy thinking if their actions will attract a court case. Concluding statement Furthermore on concluding this argument I believe that for the reasons set out in my arguments in the above section, "What are the problems with the law? " There can be no straight answer as to whether or not the Police or any other public service for that matter should be entitled to immunity from the courts. As there will always be tests that have to be satisfied before the courts, that go on to prove some matter of fact. And then each case is individual in its own right, and so has to be examined and judged upon its own merit.

Having said that I do believe that the Police and other services should be able to do their job to the best of their ability without having to worry about the public taking them to court. Also they do have to act in the interests of the public as a whole, and so are assessing situations before they act, as they will have to establish who is going to benefit from their action


Common Law (Law 103/220) 2002 – 2003 Statutory Materials Handbook Legal Studies, Osman and Police Immunity in the English Law of Torts, Paula Gilker, Butterworths, Volume 20 2000, page 372 Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [1989] AC 53 Osman v Ferguson [1993] 4 All ER 344