THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Whose side are the police on?

Link: Frank McCourt, a former soldier, charged for makling a citizens arrest - Telegraph.

The linked story illustrates poignantly what has happened to our nation under Labour. There was a time when youths would have feared to act in such a way, because the local community would have dealt with them and the police would have exercised common sense. Common sense in this case would have rejected the allegation of kidnapping, which was clearly part of a malicious campaign. But "by the book" bureaucratic Britain requires that common sense is not applied. The allegation was made and must therefore be given credence. Worse, the bureaucracy incentivises the police to pick low-hanging fruit and win a quick statistic, rather than actually tackle the crime that makes many parts of the country unliveable.

Mr McCourt did his country as much service here as he did when he served as a soldier. He is patently a good man; the sort any country should be happy to have as a citizen. He is even - amazingly - still willing to fight, saying he would do the same thing again. His wife's reaction is more typical - and heart-rendingly sad

"If I had to go through that again," says Mrs McCourt, "I would walk out. I back Frank, but I just couldn't face it again." Forlornly, she eyes her home. "We have been left defenceless."

Who can blame her? The state is not there to direct peoples' lives. It is there to provide a framework of law within which they can direct their own. It is also there to protect citizens from criminals who interfere with their ability to do so. In this story, as in so many, it has done precisely the opposite. It has done so under the direction, and with the approval, of the Labour government.

I would like to be like Mr McCourt, but if I am honest I am more like his wife. I once made a citizen's arrest myself, but I would never do so again. I would not act to prevent a crime, nor to protect a fellow-citizen from criminal attack. I am white, male and middle class. I am already guilty in the eyes of our politicised police officers, who are conducting a class war on their political masters' behalf. Regretfully, I must (and do) avoid them at all costs. Mr McCourt's story proves that my prudence, much as I despise myself for it, is justified.


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Thanks for the response.

All powers of arrest for both citizen and constable are now regulated by s.110 of SOCA 2005, which modifies s.24 of PACE 1984. People who are not constables can only make an arrest for indictable offences under certain circumstances, and trying to arrest someone for a non-indictable offence as McCourt did unfortunately has no statutory basis.

Furthermore the blessed Human Rights Act guarantees the personal liberty of even the shittiest of shitbags and by dragging the lad into his house without legal grounds for doing so McCourt was on very thin ice, legally speaking.

I sympathise with him and think that the law should allow people to take action like McCourt did and am in broad agreement with your argument in both the initial post and your comment but unfortunately appealing to the ancient traditions of citizen power won't wash in court, especially if it appears to contravene the HRA and SOCA.

james higham

That's good stuff, Tom. Now are you also aware you are the first nominagtion for Panellist at the The Blogger's Blogger
Awards 2008?

john miller

socialism makes robots

citizens must only act and think in accordance with central diktat handed down from above

no human intervention, original thought or initiative is allowed

harriet harman decides to discriminate against white middle aged males

this is allowed as a diktat passed by the political classes

any crime can be perpetrated by the political classes

no action by the middle classes is allowed without the express permission of the political classes

the proletariat are uncontrollable and no action will be taken by the political classes against the proletariat

the political classes will not come into contact with the proletariat

the middle classes will pay the politicians to defend themselves against the proletariat

here endeth the final lesson

Tom Paine

Now when I studied law, less than half a lifetime ago, there was "no such thing" as a special power of arrest for a constable. The police were using the same powers of arrest as any citizen had. It was one of the best aspects of our justice system that our police enjoyed no privileges, but were doing professionally what every citizen could, and perhaps should, do when faced with crime. Now I may be out of date, but it's a hell of a leap to say there is "no such thing" as a citizen's arrest under our law. And I have to wonder about the legal knowledge of anyone who would even refer to "UK law". What's that when it's at home, SDH? There is the English (and Welsh) Common Law and there is the law of Scotland (which is a Civil Law jurisdiction, like France or Germany). When you say "ordinary citizens should be allowed," whom do you envisage as the person doing the allowing? It may be hard to focus on this, when Parliament has reserved so much, but as a general principle of our legal tradition ALL power resides in the citizen, except for that expressly reserved to the State by Parliament. "Power to the People" was always a stupid slogan. The power IS the people's, save to the extent it has been appropriated by the State. I am sorry to be a pedant about this, but this is important stuff. This Continental European mental image that many British citizens now have, of power being channelled down and of rights being granted by the State to individuals is at the heart of the collapse of British liberty. The State is our creature. We are not its creatures. That was never our way. If it were abolished tomorrow and all its statutes swept away, we would have some problems of adjudication and enforcement to resolve by creating new institutions, but we would have a perfectly workable system of laws. That is not true of any country which can state the date on which its Civil and Criminal Codes came into force.


A slight overreation methinks...

There's no such thing as a "citizen's arrest" in UK law but I don't think that anyone at the Telegraph or the Mail seems to realise that.

There is "arrest by a person other than a constable" but these powers are severely limited and without knowing the full story it's hard to make a certain judgment. You'd also be hard pushed to say that beating a waste bin with a stick is an indictable offence triable in a crown court, which are the only offences that a "citizen's arrest" can be made for.

It's also hard to see how Mr McCourt could have legally justified dragging the kid back to his house, and if the kid, shitbag though he is, says that McCourt kidnapped him, the police have no choice but to arrest him in order to complete the investigation.

While I agree that ordinary citizens should be allowed to do a bit more to challenge yobs and that the police should have responded a bit more quickly, legally McCourt was on very dodgy ground with his "citizen's arrest."

Dave Petterson

Don't despise yourself. The correct decision is to stand back. I would. The only exception being if any of my family were under attack and then they would be getting statements from one party only and I would consider it a sacrifice worth being made. You never know, you might even be able to bury the body somewhere.

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