In the High Court, Mrs Justice Cox awarded them £50,000 in damages against Hertfordshire Police. She said that, had Mr Van Colle been placed in a safe house or given other protection after Brougham threatened his life, there would have been “a real prospect of avoiding this tragedy”.
The award was reduced in 2007 to £25,000 by the Court of Appeal; but the judgment against Hertfordshire Police was upheld. This is where the case stands.
The chief constable appealed to the Law Lords, who will rule on whether the police can be sued for failing to carry out their duties properly to investigate a crime.
The police say that unless it is overturned, they – and other public services – will face a flood of similar claims. But is that true? Are they simply not being required to do their job properly? After all, Mr Van Colle’s case is not an isolated one.