Iâ€™m getting several queries about police powers under the MHA when the venue isÂ a hotel or a hotel room â€“ soÂ we need to talk about the case of R v Rosso (2003).Â It is a very misunderstood case, because the verdict of theÂ Appeal Court gives the opposite impressionÂ to the one you need to walk away with, unless youÂ absorb the full judgment.
So attention to detail is key, here!
Mr ROSSO refused police officers access to a hotel room he was in when they attended with two doctors and an AMHP to assess and detain him under s2 of the Mental Health Act.Â In the course of the confrontation where he attempted to shut the door on the police, heÂ produced a knife and inflicted a grievous bodily harm injury to one of the officers and was arrested.Â In court, he argued that as he was in a hotel room, that the police had no more right to enter it than they would have had to enter his home and that he was entitled to deny them access as trespassers without a s135(1) warrant.Â As such, he was not guilty of assault, he claimed.Â The Crown Court took a different view and he was found guilty of GBH assault and sentenced to a restricted hospital order under 37/41 of the Mental Health Act.
He appealed against both conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal and it was rejected â€“ the police officers did not need a warrant to enter the hotel room because the hotel managers had given them permission to enter.
This is the bit that everyone remembers and only today, Iâ€™ve had the question asked and been told that officers had seen a summary of this case and concluded that they could, therefore, use section 136 of the Mental Health Act in a hotel room.Â No, you canâ€™t!Â You ordinarily would need a warrant to enter a hotel room â€“ let me explain:
RIGHT OF EXLUSIVE OCCUPATION
This case is misunderstood because of one important feature, often ignored in the summaries and their interpretation, and it surrounds whether Mr ROSSO had a right of exclusive occupationÂ â€“
He had paid to stay in the hotel and been placed in Room 3 for the duration of his stay.Â After aÂ few days, having discovered that the television in his room was not working, hotel staff had agreed to him using the television in Room 9 â€“ purely for the purposes of watching television and for no other purpose.Â Â He otherwise remained a guest in Room 3.Â So the expectation of privacy he would have had in his own room, for which he had paid, was not the same as in the room where they had allowed him on a casual basis to watch television.Â Were Mr ROSSO to have been found in Room 3 when the various professionals arrived, he would have been under no obligation to open the door and entitled to refuse access to it, unless anything agreed in the hotelâ€™s general terms and conditions dictated otherwise.
This is why the ruling actually means the opposite to what judges are thought to have ruled: they were commenting on this unusual arrangement in which he has borrowed an additional room with consent â€“ most people conclude it was generally applicable to all hotel occupations.
It really wasnâ€™t! â€”
Â ______________________________________________________________________The Mental Health Cop blog
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