Robert Cohen successfully appears for Lancashire Constabulary in the Court of Appeal in a case addressing the power to make ‘gang injunctions’

Robert Cohen appeared for the Chief Constable in Murray v Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary [2015] EWCA Civ 1174.

The Appellant is alleged to be a member of a violent gang operating in Preston. In August 2014 the Chief Constable applied for an injunction to restrain gang related violence (‘IRGV’) against him and five other people. Interim IRGVs were granted, and a number of prohibitions imposed.

The Appellant subsequently applied to discharge or vary the injunction. His application to discharge was unsuccessful and the order was not substantially varied. In deciding what terms were ‘necessary’ on the interim IRGV the High Court considered the alleged past conduct of the gang as a whole, and not just that of the Appellant. The Appellant was given permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on the basis that it was ‘well arguable’ that this approach had been wrong. The Court of Appeal also gave the Appellant permission to argue that a power of arrest should not have been imposed.

The appeal was dismissed. McCombe LJ rejected the argument that a judge is not permitted to consider the alleged conduct of a gang corporately, holding that “I consider that once one appreciates that it is gang related violence that is targeted by the Act, it is clear that the court is entitled to consider the conduct attributed to the gang as a whole and to impose such orders as it considers appropriate in the case of each alleged gang member”. The court also rejected the appeal in relation to the inclusion of a power of arrest.

This is the first time that the Court of Appeal have considered the precise ambit of the necessity test in section 34 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009. It is an important decision for police forces, which affirms the wide approach that should be taken when dealing with allegations of gang related violence.

Separately, the Respondents to these applications for IRGVs have sought a declaration that section 34 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 is incompatible with Article 6 ECHR. Robert Cohen successfully appeared at first instance before Kerr J earlier this year, and will be appearing again for the Chief Constable (as junior to Anne Studd QC) when this issue is considered by the Court of Appeal in February.

The full judgment may be read here.

See here for press coverage: BBC.