Police Federation

Statement regarding W80 Supreme Court appeal decision

Supreme Court case outcome must result in amendments to legislation to enable better protection for officers.

5 July 2023


Today (5 July), the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by the officer known as W80, supported by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), following a ruling which PFEW considered puts officers at risk of gross misconduct hearings in cases involving use of force.

However, the Supreme Court made several points which PFEW hopes will result in amendments to legislation to enable better protection for officers.

PFEW supported the officer in his appeal to the Supreme Court because of concerns about the lack of clarity arising from the Court of Appeal's decision as to the correct test in police misconduct proceedings for deciding whether an officer's use of force breached the standards of professional behaviour.

Although the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, it accepted many of the points made in the officer's favour. In particular the Supreme Court agreed that:

  • this is an area of law of vital importance to the public and police;
  • the Court of Appeal's finding that the test required nothing more than considering the necessity, proportionality and reasonableness in all the circumstances was wrong;
  • the necessity, proportionality and reasonableness of an officer's conduct MUST be assessed on the basis of the information of which the officer was aware; and
  • that the two limb approach of considering the decision to use force and then the degree of force used must be applied for all incidents of use of force.

PFEW shares the concern expressed by the Supreme Court as to the amount and complexity of legislation and guidance in this vital area and the hope that the clarity now provided will enable legislation and guidance to be made clear and made fit for purpose.

PFEW will continue to support the officer who now awaits a decision by the IOPC as to whether to resurrect misconduct proceedings. We consider the IOPC should take into account the view expressed by the Supreme Court that the training officer W80 had is relevant to whether his conduct amounts to misconduct and is not limited to mitigation, in addition to the findings of the Jermaine Baker Inquiry published exactly one year ago.

Responding to the decision to dismiss the appeal, Steve Hartshorn, National Chair of PFEW, says: “While today’s news is disappointing, I am pleased that the Supreme Court has identified the need for clarity for misconduct proceedings to decide if an officer’s use of force has breached standards of professional behaviour. We will continue to push for the legislative change needed to provide better protection for our members who are involved in or authorise a use of force.”


We use cookies on this website, you can read about them here To use the website as intended please... ACCEPT COOKIES