The Five Constables case

A High Court case – Vincent Desmond v Chief Constable of Nottingham [2009]EWHC 2362 (QB)  – in which Mr Desmond claimed that the police owe a duty of care when collating information for a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure to prospective employers.

The High court decided that there was at least an arguable case for this proposition which left the way open for Mr Desmond to sue the police for damages for losses incurred when he was refused employment as a teacher. A CRB check disclosed that he had been arrested following an allegation of assault even though he was never charged and the investigating officer’s record stated that he was not guilty of the alleged crime.

However, the case went to the Court of Appeal which has now ruled that there is no duty of care in these circumstances. The police are acting in accordance with a statutory duty with the purpose of protecting children and vulnerable adults, to pass on information which appears to be relevant to an employer’s decision to appoint someone to work with vulnerable groups.

The court noted that Mr Desmond may have other remedies against the police such as judicial review, a claim for breach of privacy rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights or a possible claim under the Data Protection Act 1998.