In 2002 an elderly street preacher, Harry Hammond, displayed a placard that said "Stop immorality. Stop homosexuality. Stop lesbianism". He was surrounded by a group of thirty or forty people who threw dirt at him and poured water over his head. The police arrested him, he was tried, convicted and fined £300.He appealed, and lost - the appeal court judge said his behaviour "went beyond legitimate protest" because it had provoked disorder.
So far as we know, none of the crowd that assaulted him was arrested.
Doctor Otto Chan, a radiologist from North London, returned from holiday to find that thieves had smashed through the back door and stolen unopened Christmas presents and three computers. Doctor Chan could afford to replace the computers, but hundreds of family photographs and files containing more than 150 lectures on radiology were literally irreplaceable.
Finding that the police showed little interest in investigating the burglary and did not send a single uniformed officer, Doctor Chan decided to take action himself to retrieve the stolen property. He pinned up posters around his neighbourhood offering a reward for anyone who returned the computers, Christmas presents and priceless family photographs.
The police phoned and threatened to arrest him for attempting to buy stolen goods, despite the fact that the goods in question were his own property. Apparently, under section 23 of the Theft Act 1968, it is illegal to advertise rewards for return of goods stolen or lost using words to the effect that no questions will be asked. Anyone convicted faces a fine of up to £100 and will get a criminal record.
This week a Manchester homeowner was arrested after a burglar plunged from the balcony of his top-floor flat. The intruder suffered head injuries and is fighting for his life after falling around 30ft on to a concrete path. Later police arrested the owner and are investigating whether the intruder was pushed.
The incident happened early on Monday when Patrick Walsh, 56, awoke to find the 43-year-old man rifling through his flat. They argued and the confrontation moved towards the rear window of the flat. It is believed the intruder then smashed the window and clambered out on to a narrow ledge and fell to the ground.
Mr.Walsh phoned police and at around 6.30 a.m. officers found the man on the ground outside the smart Victorian apartment block in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries. Officers arrested Mr.Walsh on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and are trying to establish whether the intruder was forced out of the window.
The GOS says: But you can see the police's point, can't you? Why expend all the manpower and effort to find the people who assaulted Harry Hammond when he's just standing there begging to be charged with something or other? Why bother charging the Manchester burglar who'll almost certainly get off anyway, when you can get a GBH out of the homeowner with no effort at all? And what's the point of wasting some constable's time trying to recover Doctor Chan's computers which like all secondhand computers are almost worthless, when you have the opportunity of a nice little tick on the crime statistics by charging the doctor himself?
It's a no-brainer, really, isn't it? I mean, it's not people who matter. It's statistics and clear-up rates.
You can just imagine the scene in Patrick Walsh's front room that night, can't you?
(A darkened flat at midnight. A burglar enters stage left, and begins rifling through the bureau. Enter Walsh, stage right)
Walsh: Good God! How did you get in? What are you doing here?
Burglar: Evenin', squire. Just popped in to do a bit of thieving. Won't keep you a moment, then I'll be out of your way.
Walsh: Get out! I'm calling the police!
Burglar: Now come on, squire, don't be like that. The police won't take kindly if you wake them up at this hour. Busy people, the police.
Walsh: Shut up and get out! This is my home, for God's sake!
Burglar: Now, just leave God out of it, please, sir. I'm a Muslim, as it happens, and shouting at me about God is highly offensive. There are laws about that sort of thing.
Walsh: Look, get … put that down! My mother left me that! You blackguard, put it down or I'll …
Burglar: Now then, sir, now then! Don't take that attitude with me. I'm just doing my job …
Of course if you applied plain old-fashioned common-sense to the incident, you might assume that the moment a criminal broke the law by forcing entry into someone else's property, he would forfeit the protection of the law.
But then, a world governed by common-sense?
Nah, that'd never work …
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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