Application of the “multiple conviction rule” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 art.2A(3)(c) and the Police Act 1997 s.113A and s.113B, requiring disclosure of spent convictions, resulted in an interference with ECHR art.8 which was neither in accordance with the law nor necessary in a democratic society.
The state was obliged under ECHR art.3 to conduct an effective investigation into crimes involving serious violence to persons, whether that had been carried out by state agents or individual criminals. For the right to be practical and effective, an individual who had suffered ill-treatment had a right to claim compensation against the state where there had been a failure to conduct a sufficient investigation. To succeed in a claim, a claimant had to establish that there were serious defects in the police investigation into the particular case; there was no need to establish that there were serious failings of a systemic nature.
It was important not to impose unrealistically demanding standards of care on police officers acting in the course of their operational duties, but officers did not have blanket immunity from suit in respect of their conduct in investigating or preventing crime. They were generally under a duty of care to avoid causing personal injuries where such a duty would arise under ordinary principles of negligence.
When dealing with an appeal by way of case stated, the court could only consider the facts of the case. A witness statement from the appellant’s solicitor seeking to clarify evidence that the magistrates’ court had rejected was not permissible, and the High Court would not go behind the magistrates’ court’s findings.
The Supreme Court considered the extent to which closed material could be taken into account by magistrates when issuing search and seizure warrants under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.8; by the Crown Court when asked to authorise the retention of seized material under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 s.59; and by the High Court on an application for judicial review of the legality of either of the foregoing decisions.