Police Liability for Negligent Investigations: When Will a Duty of Care Arise?

Mandy Shircore


In 1988 in Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, the House of Lords denied a duty of care was owed by police to a victim of a serial murderer. The case was interpreted as immunity from negligence actions for police when involved in the suppression and investigation of crime’. Recent cases in Australia and the United Kingdom have confirmed that while blanket immunity from negligence actions for police involved in investigatory functions does not exist, plaintiffs alleging negligence will face considerable difficulties establishing a duty of care was owed. The recent cases provide an opportunity to re-examine the appropriate tests to apply in determining the existence and scope of police duty of care and to reassess the policy grounds underlying the decisions. In doing so the article argues that Australian courts should avoid the UK approach of applying a
broad exclusionary rule particular to police, as sufficient safeguards already exist in the Australian High Court’s duty of care formulation for public authorities.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2006vol11no1art226


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