Study Notes

Key Case | R v Dytham (1979) | Actus reus – duty to act due to public duty from an official position

Last updated 1 Sept 2022

A policer officer has a public duty to act due to his official position. Police officers have a duty of care to all of society and must not fail to fulfil this duty by act or omission.

R v Dytham (1979) | A-Level Law | Key Case Summaries | Criminal

Facts:

The defendant (a police officer), witnessed the victim being beaten and kicked to death by a bouncer outside a nightclub. The defendant failed to intervene or request help and left the scene as his shift was due to end. The defendant was charged with misconduct in a public office.

Outcome: Guilty.

Legal principle:

The defendant was under a public duty to act due to his official position. The court held that a police officer has a duty of care to all of society and must not fail to fulfil this duty by act or omission. The crime of misconduct in a public office can be committed via an omission.

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