Police, Inquests and Prison - Matrix Chambers
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Police, Inquests and Prison

Human Rights

Matrix has a renowned team of silks and juniors with expertise in all areas relating to police, inquests and prison law. Barristers are regularly instructed in defining cases in this field and we frequently advise and represent parties within various settings, from parole board and adjudication hearings to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Our members have experience working on a number of high-profile, complex and lengthy investigations into unexplained death, and subsequent judicial review and civil proceedings against and arising from the decisions of the coroner.

Police law

Matrix members work across the entire span of police related cases, both public and private law including:

  • Damages claims arising out of police misconduct including claims for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, assault, negligence, and misfeasance in public office, as well as for breaches of the Human Rights Act (see also our Human Rights page).
  • Public law challenges whether to legislation affecting policing, general policies or individual decision making including:-
    • To legislative measures regulating police powers such as the criminal records certificate system established by the Police Act 1997.
    • To police policy such as that governing post incident procedures following a death in custody.
    • Challenges to search warrants obtained by the police and other law enforcement bodies; to charging and cautioning  decisions; to decisions to disclose information such as on enhanced criminal records certificates; decision taken in the context of counter-terrorism.
  • Public law challenges to other public bodies exercising police related powers such as decisions of the IOPC and the CPS in relation to police discipline or criminal prosecutions.
  • Privacy cases in connection with State surveillance and the retention and disclosure of personal data, including disclosure by way of criminal record certificates
  • Inquiry work such as the Undercover Policing Inquiry, or inquiries/inquests following deaths in police custody (see further below).
  • Police law issues arising in other tribunals, such as the Employment Tribunal and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal

Members have acted in many of the most significant cases that have brought developments in key areas of police law, including:

  • The Supreme Court case brought by two of the victims of the serial rapist John Worboys for the Metropolitan Police’s wholly ineffective police investigations that enabled him to attack more than105 women. This established the duty of the police under the Human Rights Act 1998 to conduct an effective investigation into allegations of serious offending against the person.
  • A series of judicial review cases concerned to ensure that increasingly data driven policing complies with data protection and privacy obligations.  Members have been involved in a series of ground-breaking challenges over the last decade that have tightened the regulation of the collection, retention and disclosure of information held on various databases such as the police national computer or the domestic extremism database and disclosed in criminal records certificates or enhanced CRCs.
  • The first challenge to the use of automatic facial recognition technology against members of the public.
  • The challenge in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal against the UK’s use of bulk  surveillance.
  • The judicial review brought by officer W80 who fired the shot that killed Jermaine Baker in which the Court has determined the correct test of excessive force to be applied in police disciplinary proceedings.
  • The proceedings arising out of the death of Mark Duggan.

Inquests and Inquiries

Members have appeared in many of the most significant inquests and inquiries including those which have brought about key changes to the law such as R (Middleton) v HM Coroner for the Western District of Somerset & Anor and R(Jamieson) v HM Coroner for Humberside.

  • The Fishmongers Hall Inquest into the terror attack at Fishmongers Hall in 2019
  • The Guildford Pub Bombings Inquest
  • The Inquest into the death of Prince Fosu at Harmondsworth Detention Centre.
  • The Inquest into the death of Amanda Bowles. This was one of a series of linked inquests arising from the deaths of women with eating disorders while under the care of the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Trust.
  • The Inquest into the death of Olasani (Seni) Lewis, who died following restraint by police.
  • The inquest into the death of Leon Briggs, who died following police restraint in November 2013.

In addition, our members have been involved in a number of high profile inquiries, across a range of diverse areas, including:

  • The Infected Blood Inquiry (the largest public inquiry ever held in England and Wales)
  • The Grenfell Tower Inquiry
  • The Child Sex Abuse Inquiry
  • The Undercover Police Inquiry
  • The Robert Hamil Inquiry
  • The Saville Inquiry
  • The Bahah Mousa Inquiry
  • The Leveson Inquiry

Prison law

Matrix members offer market-leading expertise in prison law and are regularly instructed in defining cases in this field. Our regular work in this field includes:

  • Parole Board hearings, and judicial review and civil claims arising from the activities of the Parole Board.
  • Judicial review and civil claims arising from the treatment and allocation of prisoners and persons in other detention settings (including Young Offender Institutions and immigration detention), including claims for violations of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010, misfeasance, assault and negligence. This includes challenges to decisions about segregation of prisoners; transferring prisoners to Managing Challenging Behaviour Units; releasing prisoners onto Home Detention Curfew; and prison practices which clash with the religious practices of detainees.
  • Challenges to secondary legislation, prison service instructions, policies and guidance pertaining to the management of prisons and prisoners.

Recent high-profile prison law cases in which Matrix members have acted include:

  • A series of challenges based on Articles 5 and 14 ECHR to the differential treatment of certain categories of prisoner, including extended sentence prisoners, determinate sentence prisoners and detainees liable to deportation.
  • A challenge to the lawfulness of placing children in solitary confinement, recently heard by the Supreme Court.
  • The high-profile and successful judicial review challenge to the decision of the Parole Board to release the serial rapist John Worboys from prison.
  • The Supreme Court case regarding costs orders in judicial review claims against the Parole Board and other quasi-judicial bodies.
  • The Howard League’s successful challenge to the removal of legal aid from a number of areas of prison law on the ground of systemic unfairness.