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Common Assault


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#1 OFFLINE   Andrew B

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 10:04 AM

Hey all,

Just a quick question regarding common assault..what constitutes as common assault? For example throwing sweets at someone hitting them in the face? or other objects..

Also what sort of punishments do you receive, and what sort of priority would it come as if someone wished to report it in say relation to ABH? Reason why i ask is obviously my remit does not deal with assaults hense i've not really been taught a great deal on the subject.

Off work for 3 days so no one to ask and it was bugging me! Cheers..

#2 OFFLINE   SimonT

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 05:32 PM

Causing anyone to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence = assault.
common assault is basicaly any injury up to a black eye, brusing and that sort of thing.
Its summary - ie 6 months in prison maximum.

it can get a bit complicated as CPS charge commom assault as above but crime is recorded as any injury of any level is abh. (at least down my way)

#3 OFFLINE   Molloy

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 05:33 PM

Hey all,

Just a quick question regarding common assault..what constitutes as common assault? For example throwing sweets at someone hitting them in the face? or other objects..

Also what sort of punishments do you receive, and what sort of priority would it come as if someone wished to report it in say relation to ABH? Reason why i ask is obviously my remit does not deal with assaults hense i've not really been taught a great deal on the subject.

Off work for 3 days so no one to ask and it was bugging me! Cheers..


A common assault is 'any act which recklessly or intentionally causes another to apprehend immediate unlawful violence'. Throwing sweets is an actual application of force so therefore is a battery which is a separate offence. Both assault and battery are defined in common law. Shaking your fist at someone is enough to be an assault (in law, not in real life).

Common assault is summary only offence with a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment. ABH is triable either way with a maximum of five years sentence.

#4 OFFLINE   P47

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 08:28 PM

As above.

As for the priority it would be given; in my force any report of assault would be grade 1 if ongoing (obviously) and grade 2 if not (response within 1 hour). Until recently, a grade 2 response was still required if someone rang up on Thursday and reported an assault that occurred on Sunday. Crazy or what?
That's gone now and they get an appointment instead.

#5 OFFLINE   Andrew B

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 10:09 PM

How are they investigated though? Obviously someone makes a statement but after that? [if you go on the basis it was a random stranger and not someone the person knew]. Would it be CCTV etc and put onto briefings, or is there some sort of unit that deals with it seperately?

As SNT we never follow up anything to do with common assault on my patch which is why im a bit miffed. Cheers for responses so far!

#6 OFFLINE   SAMMYD

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 10:17 PM

Nope we just inherit the offence.
Investigate as much as possible and because no witnesses, Offender unknown and no CCTV evidence it will be NFA and an undetected crime :thumbdown:

#7 OFFLINE   Andrew B

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 10:22 PM

My ward is fairly good for CCTV, say there was cctv of someone chucking a sweet at someones face, or a conker or something...but suspect unknown, is it still written off? hmm

#8 OFFLINE   Molloy

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 08:15 AM

My ward is fairly good for CCTV, say there was cctv of someone chucking a sweet at someones face, or a conker or something...but suspect unknown, is it still written off? hmm


I think that when I spoke to the victim, I would make clear that the best possible outcome was 'words of advice' for the offender. Who in their right minds is really going to go to court over having sweets chucked at them? Which court in its right mind is going to spend thousands of pounds in putting the case through.

I'm not sure your example makes much sense, because in the real world, the world of bobbying, it would very infrequently be crimed and even more infrequently would it be pursued.

#9 OFFLINE   Andrew B

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 08:43 AM

I gave the example of someone chucking sweets at someones face deliberately as I've seen in happen, and i was interested to see what police action say would have been taken.

Cheers for the replies guys

#10 OFFLINE   - Dibble -

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 10:13 AM

I joined the job in the days when we simply didn't investigate common assaults at all. The reasoning for that was simple; nobody had been hurt and the Courts took a view of the offence being trivial and sentencing on conviction was as good as non-existant with a conditional discharge and a minor sum of compensation being just about as harsh as it ever got. The view was that frankly it was not a sensible way of spending the tax-payer's money. We simply advised the complainant that if they were that bothered by it then they'd be better off taking it to a civil court to sue for compensation, where the burden of proof was lighter and where they'd likely get more money. Of course, that meant they had to put the effort in themselves and I'm sure nobody ever did - hence displaying that they weren't actually that bothered about it after all! All we ever did was make a PNB entry in case evidence of first complaint may be required in a civil case.

That all went out of the window with NCRS and the potential for a cheap Sanction Detection - so now we spend many hours of police time chasing around after jobs that really nobody is all that concerned about. Is it progress? Personally, I think not.

We are an increasing 'counter culture' - one in which people of a certain section of our society, whenever they have any kind of an issue in their life, expect that there is a counter somewhere that they can walk up to to get someone to sort their problem out for them. Nobody seems capable of dealing with their own lives any more - something highlighted by a recent study that showed here in the UK far more people then in other countries view crime as an issue solely the reponsibility of the police rather than of society as a whole. Common assault is, by definition, a trivial matter. A bit of pushing-and-shoving that has come to nothing. It's barely a crime at all - so is it really an issue that the police should be dedicating scarce and hard pressed resources to?

I think we should be having a review of what the public can reasonably expect from the police. It is in our nature to passively accept that everything is our responsibility - just see how easily we allow Social Services to abdicate responsibility for those in their care when kids just walk out of care homes without any effort at all on the part of those supposed to be looking after them, except to just pick up a phone to us and report their charges as missing. At some point we have to turn around and say no, that's actually not what we are here for. Sometimes it may be the job of another agency, but at times we should be turning round to people and saying honestly, you can sort this out yourself if you could just be bothered.

For me, common assault is just such a case. Sadly though, in fear of being criticised for 'failing to investigate a crime', we are apparently incapable of telling people to just go away and get a grip of themselves. And in that I think we are failing society - allowing ourselves to fall into the habit of expecting someone else to look after us constantly instead of developing the skills to manage our own problems. It encourages people to be inactive when they see crime being committed - rather than intervening directly, at best going no further than perhaps making a call on a mobile to the police (but of course not going so far as to answer the return call when we are seeking a witness statement!). In this way we see the fabric of society begin to unravel.

Just maybe, if we were less prepared to fall all over ourselves in our eagerness to deal with every trivial little complaint that people brought to us, we would instead encourage those people to take a little more ownership over their own society and thereby a more active role in maintaining it.

#11 OFFLINE   Futures

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 10:24 AM

I was hit in the face for no reason about 8 months ago. I phoned the Police and the guy who hit me was given a warning for common assault... I'm sure some of you can remember me posting a topic about it actually.

I didn't see an officer throughout the whole investigation and then about 2 weeks ago, some officers turnt up whilst I was at work asking me to sign a statement to proove that what I'd told the officer on the phone was my own words.

#12 OFFLINE   PintOfKittens

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 11:03 AM

Common assault is, by definition, a trivial matter. A bit of pushing-and-shoving that has come to nothing. It's barely a crime at all - so is it really an issue that the police should be dedicating scarce and hard pressed resources to?


I have a feeling its from the same society who will shout abuse at the police, then complain when they get arrested because "they know their rights" and "if I wasnt in handcuffs id beat you up, bruv".

On the other hand, I am less willing to defend myself and my property and more willing to call the police, because I am fearful that a complaint will result in my arrest and spending hours waiting for the CPS to decide which NFA stamp to use on the file.

We are apparently incapable of telling people to just go away and get a grip of themselves


Unfortunatly, from what I have seen and heard, its not isolated to the police. My ex is a Paramedic, and she has lost count of the number of times she has attended someone who has dialed 999 for a cut finger, a cold, the flu, "I have stubbed my toe 2 days ago and it hurts, and i havnt taken any pain killers" or "dizzy after smoking weed" - who insist, because they are tax payers, they have to be taken to the hospital. What they need is a thoroguh telling off for wasting an ambulance (a call out roughly costs 180 quid) and further education on what the service is there for.



I have to admit, yesterday I called 999 and asked for the police, after nearly hitting a swan on a motorway (at 70mph) - I know its not life threatening, but if a driver was paying less attention than me and hit it, could cause a nasty accident. The call taker laughed when she asked me "A swan?" and I replied with "Yeah, a swan - you know, big, white, fluffy and tasty" :lol:

#13 OFFLINE   SimonT

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 06:46 PM

Most of the time is an officer comes across an allegation of common assault it can be resolved with some degree of sense.
if its sent to response from the phone with 'assault' on it then 98% of the time its going to be investigated.

I am currently lumbered with a common assault by 15 year old on mum from 3 weeks ago. i cant get rid because it needs to be investigated. i expect with CPS etc it will take 2 months to sort

#14 OFFLINE   SWilks

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 12:05 PM

I've never known anyone get charged with common assault; if there's been an altercation in the street with no physical contact it's been dealt with under the Public Order Act (S.4 or S.5), and if it's a very minor assault (a little bit of reddening) then it's been deamed as assault by beating.

As for the punishments, I wouldn't know, it takes months for the court results to get back to me, and by then I've normally forgotten about the job and the piece of paper just gets binned.

But I completely agree with the last few posts, it's rediculous what the CPS expects to be done for a minnor tiff between people which 99.9% of the time is forgotten about the next day.

#15 OFFLINE   afaircop

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:45 PM

I have read this post with great interest.

I am a former police officer and was attacked by a man as I tried to arrest him. I was badly injured and he was convicted.

I was charged with common assault 23 months later (having originally being charged with ABH) for the force I used to defend myself. My assailant had slight reddening above his eye that had been caused from a previous fight (the reason we'd been called).

I was convicted of common assault at Crown Court, given four months inside and sacked from the police.

#16 OFFLINE   12345

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:23 PM

if someone got you arrested for common assault can they then drop the charges? will this give the ' defendant' a clean record or do the police still press charges?
this hasnt gone to cps yet

#17 OFFLINE   SimonT

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 02:59 PM

if someone got you arrested for common assault can they then drop the charges? will this give the ' defendant' a clean record or do the police still press charges?
this hasnt gone to cps yet

A: more information is needed for any of this to make sense.,
B: if its an ongoing case speak to your solicitor

#18 OFFLINE   12345

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 06:52 AM

if someone got you arrested for common assault can they then drop the charges? will this give the ' defendant' a clean record or do the police still press charges?
this hasnt gone to cps yet

A: more information is needed for any of this to make sense.,
B: if its an ongoing case speak to your solicitor


its a long story but my friends ex got him arrested for common assault although she attacked him first.
can she drop the charges or will he still be charged by the police?
how is it fair that he got arrested for defending himself?

#19 OFFLINE   SimonT

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 10:48 AM

Being arrested for something is not a punishment. Its part of an investigation.

What both parties say is taken and placed with all other evidence for the CPS to see. They then make a decision on what happens next.


I do get a bit bored of people moaning about their ex's. they are always crazy, always definately going to come over and kill them immediately (for a fascebook threat) its always all their fault. If people started going out with people who werent crazy, their life might be a bit better.

#20 OFFLINE   12345

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:39 AM

Being arrested for something is not a punishment. Its part of an investigation.

What both parties say is taken and placed with all other evidence for the CPS to see. They then make a decision on what happens next.


I do get a bit bored of people moaning about their ex's. they are always crazy, always definately going to come over and kill them immediately (for a fascebook threat) its always all their fault. If people started going out with people who werent crazy, their life might be a bit better.


believe me when he realised she was crazy he left. this was a long time ago.
my question still remains - if she dropps the charges will the police still charge and go to court?
will it stay on his name/record if the answer to the above is yes ???

also there were no witnesses and she has lied about bruising

are you a police office or ex police officer?

#21 OFFLINE   SimonT

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:13 PM

i am a current police officer.
I cant comment on a specifc case.
The police and CPS have a positive arrest and charge policy with domestic violence. Where if there is evidence then they may go to trial without a victims consent. This is an attempt to stop the repeating cycle of people being in abuive relationships.

So it is possible that a charge or trial will go ahead even if support is dropped. It is also entirely possible that it will not.

arrest record will aways exist (according to current rules) and your friend will have a PNC record

Edited by desmata, 07 April 2010 - 01:18 PM.


#22 OFFLINE   DietCola

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:30 PM

I suppose this is another one of those vague laws where nobody really knows what to do -_-

If someone throws sweets at you, or throws water on you, I'm inclined to say I honestly don't care if it's a hefty volley with a big purple, or if your hair is "totally ruined". But I'm not sure what to do if there are repeat offenders XD. Maybe the water being ejected from the cup should be classed as a firearm, that should protect civillians from such serious offenses.

Does this mean I can go up to people and keep throwing sweets at them??
Following them around might be considered harassment, but maybe I can get them while they're waiting for a bus or something ;D

#23 OFFLINE   SAMMYD

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:39 PM

Its not a VAGUE LAW Dietcola.....

Also, this is not America were people "Drop the charges"... There is either evidence of a crime or there isn't.

A complainant can try to retract their statement and refuse to attend court, but its then up to the magistrate/judge who can issue a warrant for the arrest of the original compainant to force them to court (unlikely for a S39). We had a woman arrested last week for this reason.

Your case is ongoing so shouldn't be discussed, but it will be classed as a domestic, so the powers that be will be more interested in pursuing it than just a normal assault.

Did you say this was pre CPS, pre charge?? speak to the officer in charge of the investigation about your fears of the IP lying about injuries etc

#24 OFFLINE   12345

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 02:05 PM

i am a current police officer.
I cant comment on a specifc case.
The police and CPS have a positive arrest and charge policy with domestic violence. Where if there is evidence then they may go to trial without a victims consent. This is an attempt to stop the repeating cycle of people being in abuive relationships.

So it is possible that a charge or trial will go ahead even if support is dropped. It is also entirely possible that it will not.

arrest record will aways exist (according to current rules) and your friend will have a PNC record


thanks for helping
its a very bad situation. she turned up at his house going wild and punching him,all he done was push her out the property.not hit her.sureley she was trespassing and all he done was self defence. does it not get looked at like this?
she has done this before and he called the police and got her removed from the property but didnt get her arrested.does this help his case?
rumour has it that shes dropping the charges,but like i said the police may still carry on with the charge and he could go to court,right??


also what do you mean arrest record? is he just a statistic to get police figures up?

Edited by 12345, 07 April 2010 - 02:08 PM.


#25 OFFLINE   SimonT

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 02:18 PM

"is he just a statistic to get police figures up?" as in we had to arrest him? or we arrested him just because we like to look like we are doing things?

DV arrests are some of the longest and most complicated 'normal' arrests we do, with a huge file to build. If there is a sensible way of avoiding it then great, if not then the person is going to be arrested because thats whats needed.


If you are arrested for a recordable offence you will have you dna, prints and photo taken and you will have a PNC record so that if you are checked by a police officer in the UK there will be a record of you.




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