Case Brief Wiki


There was a warrant for Whitfield's arrest. A police officer saw him in a car stopped at a red light, and approached the car. The officer reached through the open window, grabbed Whitfield by the shirt and said “You are under arrest!” Whitfield slammed on the accelerator and escaped. He was charged with escaping from lawful custody under s.125(a) (now s.145(a)(1)). Whitfield was convicted at trial, but was overturned at appeal stating that he was not arrested, and therefore not under custody because the police have to "have you" for you to be under custody, and they never "got" Whitfield.


  1. Was Whitfield arrested?
  2. Was Whitfield in custody?


Appeal allowed.


Judson, writing for the majority, rejects the view of the Court of Appeal, stating that what is needed for an arrest to occur is touching with a view to detention. Here, the officer touched Whitfield and obviously intended to detain him because he told him that he was under arrest. This definition comes from Halsbury's "Laws of England", as there is no definition of arrest in the Code.

Hall, in the dissent, says that while Whitfield had a lawful duty to submit to arrest, he did not do so and therefore was not arrested. He believes that Whitfield should have instead been charged under s.110(a) (now s.129(a)), which prohibits willfully obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.


  • In order to arrest someone you must touch them with a view to detention; at this point the accused has a duty to submit, and escaping violates s.145(a)(1).
  • There does not need to be a warrant to make an arrest.