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Examination Timing: 00H00M07S

Fiona was the sole representative of her daughter, Lily, who had been the last victim of a man who had committed 12 murders and eight attempted murders upon young women over a five-year period. Fiona claimed damages for breach of duty against the police service, alleging that the officers had failed to apprehend the man before the attack on her daughter and had failed to properly collate information in their possession pointing to the man as a likely suspect. 

Does Fiona have a reasonable cause of action against the police service?

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Although it was reasonably foreseeable that failing to apprehend the murderer could result in harm to individuals like Lily, there is no additional characteristic that establishes a duty of care owed by the police to Fiona or her daughter. The case Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [1988] Q.B. 60 established that the police do not owe a duty of care to individual members of the public in the investigation and suppression of crime. This decision was based on public policy considerations, recognising that imposing such a duty would significantly hinder police operations and open the floodgates for numerous claims, thereby diverting resources from essential policing activities. 

Key Point: The Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire case is a leading authority on the issue of duty of care in negligence claims against the police. The decision reflects the courts' reluctance to impose liability on the police for their operational decisions in investigating and preventing crime, primarily due to public policy reasons. The ruling emphasises that while the police must act competently, holding them liable for investigative failures would be contrary to the broader interests of public safety and effective law enforcement.

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