• GL
Choose your location?
  • Global Global
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Spain
  • UAE
  • UK

Corey Dixon v Crown Prosecution Service | 20 November

05 December 2018
A Police Officer who was bitten by a detainee whilst assisting his colleagues was held to be acting in the execution of his duty despite the arrest being unlawful, due to the fact that he was acting in concern that the detainee was reaching for a weapon.


In the early hours of 26 March 2017 the Appellant, Mr Corey Dixon, was spotted by three Police Officers in an unmarked vehicle whilst he was cycling. The Officers believed that Mr Dixon fitted the description of a suspect who was said to be carrying drugs or weapons in the area, and he was therefore asked to stop, but refused to do so.


PC Haroon then took hold of Mr Dixon's arm and in doing so was not exercising his powers of arrest or stop and search. A struggle then followed between Mr Dixon and two of the Officers, before PC Dolling then intervened as he believed that Mr Dixon was reaching for a weapon. PC Dolling was then bitten on the arm by Mr Dixon.


The Appellant was charged with assaulting all three Police Officers in the execution of their duty under Section 89(1) of the Police Act 1996. He was acquitted for the offences against PCs Haroon and Bailey, as it was held by the Magistrates' Court that the Officers had been acting unlawfully when attempting to detain Mr Dixon, and who was therefore entitled to use reasonable force to desist arrest. He was however convicted for the offence against PC Dolling.


Mr Dixon appealed against the Court's decision that PC Dolling had been acting in the execution of his duty. However, the Crown Court held that whilst the other Officers had been acting unlawfully, PC Dolling was acting in the execution of his duty by trying to prevent his fellow Officers from being unlawfully assaulted.



The High Court was faced with the question of whether PC Dolling had in fact been acting in the execution of his duty, even though his colleagues had conducted an unlawful arrest.

The two cases of Cumberbatch v Crown Prosecution Service; Ali v Director of Public Prosecutions [2009] were discussed during the proceedings and, in the High Court's decision to dismiss the Appeal, the two cases were distinguished from Mr Dixon's case.

In Cumberbatch, the Police Officers who assisted their colleague during an unlawful arrest were held not to be acting in the execution of their duty. However, the Defendant in Cumberbatch was not held to be acting (or threatening to act) unlawfully – her response was reasonable, unlike Mr Dixon whose act of biting PC Dolling constituted an assault and also unreasonable force to resist an unlawful detention.

The case of Ali was also distinguished on the basis that the Police Officers who assisted in an unlawful arrest did not have grounds to believe that the Defendant would exercise unreasonable force, unlike PC Dolling who had a reasonable belief that Mr Dixon was intending  to use excessive force via a weapon.

The Court held therefore that there was a justification for PC Dolling's intervention, that he was acting in the execution of his duty and the consequently Appeal was dismissed.


The case is an important decision when considering situations where Police Officers have used force unlawfully against a member of the public, whose behaviour then escalates unreasonably.  The fact that the initial use of force by Officers was unlawful did not mean that every action that followed was unlawful. In this case while Mr Dixon was entitled to defend his liberty, he was not entitled to use unreasonable force in doing so. When he used unreasonable force, by biting PC Dolling in the arm, he committed an assault.

The High Court noted that the case illustrates the fact that problems may arise in identifying whether an officer is acting in the execution of his duty. The court stated " ……prosecutors should consider making an alternative charge of common assault when they have reason to think that there may be an issue as to whether a police constable was acting in the execution of his duty but that the defendant may nevertheless be guilty of a common assault by reason of having used unjustified force."  It was noted that magistrates at a summary trial generally have no power to find an accused not guilty as charged but guilty of a lesser offence.  This means that a finding that a constable was not acting in the execution of his duty when assaulted by the accused  leads to an acquittal if the only offence charged is an offence under section 89(1) of the Police Act 1996.

Further Reading

We use cookies to give you the best user experience on our website. Please let us know if you accept our use of cookies.

Manage cookies

Your Privacy

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. We mainly use this information to ensure the site works as you expect it to, and to learn how we can improve the experience in the future. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change permissions. However, blocking some types of cookies may prevent certain site functionality from working as expected

Functional cookies


These cookies let you use the website and are required for the website to function as expected.

These cookies are required

Tracking cookies

Anonymous cookies that help us understand the performance of our website and how we can improve the website experience for our users. Some of these may be set by third parties we trust, such as Google Analytics.

They may also be used to personalise your experience on our website by remembering your preferences and settings.

Marketing cookies

These cookies are used to improve and personalise your experience with our brands. We may use these cookies to show adverts for our products, or measure the performance of our adverts.