Police Held Liable for Investigative Failures

In a Supreme Court Judgement handed down on 21st February 2018 it was held that the police were liable to pay compensation to two of the victims of John Worboys, the London black cab driver convicted of numerous sexual offences from 2003-2007. (https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0166-judgment.pdf

The cases were brought by 2 parties, referred to as DSD and NBV. Whilst there were many other victims of Worboys it is unlikely that we will ever know the total number of women who has been attacked by him. DSD and NBV were only identified as victims after a review of sexual assault cases by police in February 2008. May other victims were also identified and eventually John Worboys was arrested and convicted of 19 sexual assaults including the assault on NBV.

The case was brought by these 2 women against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for the failure of the police to properly and effectively investigate the crimes for which Worboys was ultimately convicted, stating this failure resulted in the police violating their human rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Under Art 3 every person has a right not to be subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

DSD & NBV claimed that the police failure to properly investigate the crimes when they were first reported meant that rather than being identified, arrested and prosecuted after the earlier crimes were reported, Worboys was able to carry out a catalogue of attacks on an unknown number of women over many years. The High Court and the Court of Appeal held that there was a positive obligation on the police to effectively investigate reported crimes and that as the obligation had been breached, that compensation was payable to the women bringing the case. The Police Commissioner appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Lord Kerr delivered the lead judgement in the case which now opens up the potential for further claims to be made against the police for investigative failings in other cases. The judgement expounds the factual matrix in this particular case that led to the Supreme Court reaching their decision and in his judgement Lord Mance highlighted the distinction between simple errors/omissions and more serious failings on the part of the police and emphasised that the positive obligation under Art 3 only relates to more serious failings.

If you would like advice on whether or not you may be entitled to compensation due to the negligence of the police or indeed any other entity, do not hesitate to contact us at MTB. One of our expert team will arrange a no obligation consultation and we will go through your options with you.