In my last two blogs (which you can read here and here), I focused on Section 37 of Police and Criminal Evidence Act which sets out Police grounds for continued detention before charge and how failure to comply with the same can lead to a claim for false imprisonment.
What about post-charge? Here, the police are obliged to bring the individual before a Magistrates’ Court in the local justice area in which the Police Station at which he was charged is situated “as soon as is practicable”, per Section 46 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
One would assume that this would not be difficult to comply with, but mistakes do happen as my client, David Burdett will confirm.
David was arrested by Nottinghamshire Police in respect of an allegation of assault which was being investigated by Lincolnshire Police. He was taken to Nottingham Bridewell Custody Suite.
Following process, David was interviewed and an evidential/charging review was then carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service. The Crown Prosecution Service determined that the threshold test (evidential and public interest) had been satisfied and accordingly, at 21.56, my client was charged.
The Custody Officer considered the question of bail and at 22.16 decided that bail would be refused and that my client would be kept in custody overnight and appear before the Magistrates the next day.
The remand file (including advanced disclosure) stated that David would be appearing at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.
The next day David was released into the custody of Geo Amey for transport and appearance at Court. However, David was transported not to Lincolnshire Magistrates’ court but to Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. Nottingham Magistrates’ Court then refused to accept David, ostensibly because they did not have ‘jurisdiction’ to deal with a Lincolnshire matter. There is, in fact, no basis for this in law: any Magistrates’ Court can deal with any matter, notwithstanding the geographical ‘origin’.
David was then returned to Custody at Nottingham Bridewell, where his detention was authorised by the Custody Officer. The reasons endorsed on the Custody Record were that David had been “ locked out” of Court.
The detention of David was authorised at 13.29 and he remained in Custody until the following day when he was again transferred into the custody of Geo Amey to appear at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.
When ultimately presented before Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court, the case was adjourned and David was finally released at approximately 1.00pm.
Section 46 of PACE states as follows;
(1) Where a person –
- is charged with an offence, and
- after being charged-
- is kept in police detention or he shall be brought before a Magistrates’ court in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) If he is to be brought before a Magistrates’ court in the local justice area in which the police station at which he was charged is situated, he shall be brought before such a court as soon as is practicable and in any event not later than the first sitting after he is charged with the offence.
(3) If the person charged is to be brought before a Magistrates’ court in a local justice area other than that in which the police station at which he was charged is situated, he shall be removed to that area as soon as is practicable and brought before such a court as soon as is practicable after his arrival in the area and in any event not later than the first sitting of a Magistrates’ court in that area after his arrival in the area.
Here the Police had complied with s.46 by surrendering David to Geo Amey for transport to Court. The failure of the Police was in accepting David back into their custody after the Nottingham Magistrates had refused to deal with his case. The Police had no power to detain him after he had been to Court, notwithstanding the bizarre decision of Nottingham Magistrates.
As a result, David was unnecessarily kept in custody for nearly 39 hours.
Once I intimated a claim, East Midlands Legal Services (quickly on behalf of Nottinghamshire Police) agreed to settle up and David received £3000 in compensation.
ALL NAMES CHANGED