Davidson v. Chief Constable of North Wales  2 All E.R. 597:
On suspicion that Mrs Davidson and her friend had taken a cassette from a shop without paying for it, a store detective informed the police of her suspicion and the police arrested Mrs Davidson and her friend for shoplifting. After about two hours of detention, an assistant at the cassette counter revealed she sold the cassette to Mrs Davidson and her friend, and the two were released without charges. Mrs Davidson brought an action for false imprisonment against the Chief Constable of North Wales, the employer of the store detective.
Whether or not Mrs Davidson and her friend were unlawfully imprisoned.
Mrs Davidson and her friend were not unlawfully imprisoned.
Arguments of the Plaintiff:
That by section 24(5) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, a private person has no lawful justification to restrain someone on suspicion of having committed an earlier theft. That the police acted on the instructions of the store detective, consequently making the store detective liable for false arrest.
Under section 24(6) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, it is provided that “where a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an arrestable offence has been committed, he may arrest without warrant anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of the offence.” The police are thus given lawful justification to restrain anyone on reasonable suspicion of guilt. Per Sir Thomas Bingham MR, the store detective would be liable for false imprisonment if what she did “went beyond laying information before police officers for them to take such action as they thought fit, and amounted to some direction, or procuring, or direct request, or direct encouragement that they should act by way of arresting [the plaintiffs]”. The court found that the store detective merely informed the police about her suspicion and did not procure the arrest to make her liable for false imprisonment.