The Queen’s Bench Division addressed the elements of the offence of assaulting a Police Constable acting in the execution of duty contrary to the Police Act 1996, s.89(1).
The question for the Court was whether, on the evidence presented, the Court was correct in finding that the Police Constable was acting in the execution of his duty when he was pushed by the Appellant. The critical factor in this case related to whether or not the Police Constable was acting in the execution of his duty at the moment when he was pushed.
The case for Appellant was that the Police Constable was in the process of attempting to detain the Appellant in a way which was an unlawful interference with his liberty at the time when he assaulted the Police Constable and in consequence the Police Constable was not acting in the execution of his duty when the Appellant pushed him and so the Appellant should not have been convicted.
In dismissing the appeal the Queen’s Bench Division held that there was nothing unlawful in what the Police Constable did in alighting from the car and requesting the Appellant to stop. No actual physical force was used or threatened and whatever was in the Police Constable’s state of mind cannot render unlawful an act which would otherwise be lawful. Indeed, the state of mind of the Police Constable was irrelevant at the time when the pushing took place. What was relevant is what the Police Constable was doing immediately before he was pushed and all he was doing was approaching the Appellant to speak about his behaviour. Accordingly, the Police Constable was not acting outside the scope of his duty.