R v Dytham is a criminal case in English law which involved a police officer who failed to intervene in a violent assault outside a nightclub. The case established that a public officer, such as a police officer, who fails to carry out his duty to intervene in a serious crime, may be charged with “misconduct in public office”.
In this case, the defendant, a police officer, witnessed a violent assault taking place outside a nightclub, but chose not to intervene or report the incident. As a result, the victim died from his injuries. The defendant was charged with “misconduct in public office”, which is an offense that applies to public officers who have willfully neglected or breached their duties, leading to a breach of the public’s trust in their office.
The court found the defendant guilty of misconduct in public office, stating that the duty of a police officer is to protect the public, prevent crime and apprehend offenders, and that the defendant had a clear duty to intervene and take action to prevent the assault. The court also held that the defendant’s failure to intervene amounted to a breach of his duty to the public, and that he had willfully neglected his duty as a police officer.
The case is significant as it established that public officers, including police officers, can be held accountable for their failure to carry out their duties, and can be charged with misconduct in public office if they have breached the trust placed in them by the public.