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Leach v Gloucester Constabulary  [1999] 1 WLR 1421   Court of Appeal

The claimant acted as an appropriate adult during the police questioning of the notorious serial killer, Fred West. She was an unpaid volunteer and given no warning of the nature of the crimes he had committed before agreeing to act as his appropriate adult. She had experience in working with youths but had no training or experience in dealing with older and mentally impaired suspects. She attended over forty police interviews, accompanied West to the scenes of crime and at times was left alone with him in his cell. In consequence she suffered post- traumatic stress  and a stroke.  She contended that the police had negligently caused her psychiatric injury as they had failed to adequately consider her suitability for the task, failed to warn her of the severity of the case andthey had failed to offer the support and counselling available to the other police officers involved in the case. Her claim was stuck out by Batterbury J as disclosing no cause of action with regards to duty of care. She appealed this finding.

Held:

The appeal was allowed.

Pill LJ:

“In my judgment the defendant did assume responsibilities to the plaintiff in the inevitably stressful situation in which they had placed her and the element of proximity is established. They may not have wished to place her in the situation but, once they did, they assumed responsibilities towards her. If, for example, the person being interviewed was known to be subject to spontaneous outbursts of physical violence (not this case) the police would plainly assume a responsibility for the safety of a member of the public they had asked to be present at the interview. In relation to whether a duty of care exists, I see no sensible distinction between that situation and a situation in which the member of the public was to be subject to a most bizarre and horrific verbal scenario. When foreseeability is in issue, it does not matter whether the injury in fact sustained is physical, psychiatric or both”