Wrongful arrest arrest on basis of information on police computer test of lawfulness of arrestHough v Chief Constable of Staffordshire Constabulary: CA (Simon Brown and Longmore LJJ): 16 January 2001The claimant was a passenger in a car stopped by a police patrol car because its windscreen was damaged.
A routine check on the police computer disclosed an entry warning officers that the occupant of the car might be armed with a firearm.
A rapid response team was summoned.
The claimant was arrested, handcuffed, roughly searched and taken to a police station.
No weapon being found either in the car or on his person, he was released.
He brought an action for damages for wrongful arrest, assault and false imprisonment.
The judge was not satisfied that the arrest was lawful because it had not been shown that the officer who put the information on the computer had reasonable grounds for making the entry.
He gave judgment for the claimant, awarding 10,000 damages with 600 interest.
The chief constable appealed.Mark Turner QC (instructed by Grindeys, Stoke On Trent) for the Chief Constable.
The claimant did not appear and was not represented.Held, allowing the appeal, that the critical issue in determining the lawfulness of any arrest was whether the arresting officer had acted reasonably in acting on the information received; that where an arrest was made on the basis of information on the police computer that entry was likely to provide the necessary objective justification but whether any particular entry did so depended on all the circumstances; that it was not necessary to show that the officer who placed the entry on the computer had reasonable grounds for doing so; and that since the entry in question provided ample justification for the claimants arrest, his action could not succeed.