To Serve and Protect Whom? Proximity in Cases of Police Failure to Protect


  • Erika Chamberlain Associate Dean (Academic) and Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University.



This article examines the duty of care owed by police to potential victims of crime, focusing

specifically on the issue of proximity. The author surveys both Canadian and UK cases in

order to examine the factors that potentially give rise to a special relationship in these

circumstances, and compares the Canadian courts’ more plaintiff-friendly approach to the

English courts’ persistent refusal to recognize proximity in the relationship between the

police and victims of crime. The case law is then analyzed in order to shed light on the utility

and content of the proximity requirement for the duty of care, taking into consideration the

factual context, statutory framework, and policy considerations.