The liability of police and bouncers

Cockburn, Tina L. (2007) The liability of police and bouncers. In Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland State Conference, 9-10 February 2007, Surfers Paradise, QLD. (Unpublished)


Claims against police for psychiatric injury suffered as a consequence of conduct of investigations and performance of duties* 1. Introduction

In 2002, McCullough and Palmer published a report to the Criminology Research Council, Civil Litigation by citizens against Australian police between 1994 and 2002 . The introduction to the report says:

"There appears to be an emerging trend towards greater resort to civil litigation against police, combined with a definite trend to substantially larger judgements in favour of plaintiffs. Judicial benevolence towards questionable police practices has diminished and successful civil actions against the police are on the increase (Dixon 1997: 146). According to the Australian Torts Reporter, 'police are now, as never before, becoming targets of civil actions against them by aggrieved citizens' (2000 35-070: 43,072)".

As to why the number of claims against police has been increasing, the researchers conclude:

"There are a number of factors underlying the increasing significance of civil litigation. All interviewees agreed that greater access to justice through 'no win, no fee' arrangements, increased awareness about rights amongst community members, greater damages awards, and the snowball effect of publicity about successful actions contribute to the increased resort to civil litigation by aggrieved citizens. However, lawyers tended to characterise any increase in civil litigation positively in terms of greater access to justice, and public good in terms of enhanced police accountability, whereas police tended to emphasise the negative impact of litigation in terms of police morale and the drain on public funds. Lawyers linked resort to civil litigation to what they perceived to be lack of effective alternative means of police accountability, while police employees saw no or little connection between other accountability mechanisms and civil litigation, and expressed concern that police were any ‘easy target’ often being sued for 'just doing their job'."

The researchers investigated various civil actions in tort against police officers including breach of statutory duty, malicious prosecution, assault, battery and trespass to the person, trespass to land, trespass to goods, Lord Campbell's action, misfeasance in public office, false imprisonment, false arrest, intimidation and negligence . In this paper it is proposed to limit the discussion to a consideration of recent claims against the police which have been brought in negligence and trespass to the person (assault, battery and false imprisonment).

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 13644
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the Association's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Additional URLs:
Keywords: tort, negligence, intentional torts, civil liability, compensation
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Tort Law (180126)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Tina L. Cockburn
Deposited On: 03 Jun 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2009 08:18

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