Friday, April 29, 2011

Department of Pre-Crime

I quite enjoy the movie Minority Report based on a Philip K Dick short story though quite well enhanced by some good effects. It essentially involves the police using pre-cogs or precognitive telepaths who can predict murder before it even happens and so the pre criminals are arrested and locked up, at least until a flaw in the system shows how it can be fooled.
Still, even today the police were out arresting people for intentions rather than actual criminal acts.

Daily Mail.

Earlier, three protesters thought to have been planning to behead effigies of the royals were arrested in London.
Police seized a guillotine as they arrested two men - aged 68 and 45 - and a 68-year-old woman last night thought to have been plotting disruption on the day of the Royal Wedding.
It is understood one of the men arrested is Chris Knight, 68, head of the anti-royal anarchist group The Government of the Dead.
The arrests in Brockley, South-East London, come after officers warned there would be a number of pre-emptive arrests on the eve of the big day.
Ok, these people may well have carried through their attempts to disrupt the wedding, however planning something is not the same as doing, even if arrested as they were carrying a guillotine. Even then, that's a legitimate protest, granted they probably would have been lynched by the attending royalists, but, IT'S STILL NOT A CRIME! pre-emptive means by it's very nature that the police are arresting people who have committed no crime as yet and I'm fairly sure some human rights lawyer is going to have a field day over this lot once they get their teeth into it. Granted the police may have saved disruption on the day, but at what cost? I'm no royalist myself, bit of respect for the Queen, hell of a lot of respect for Prince Philip, but no respect at all for the rest of the hangers on especially the heir to the throne. To my mind though, they aren't worth a protest over, but should I have chosen to protest peacefully if noisily I might have been arrested. Even if on the day I chickened out, or was merely talking up a storm and had no intentions of doing anything. I'm not saying the people arrested weren't going to try and protest, however until they did they were guilty of nothing more than conspiracy and that isn't a crime, or rather wasn't until today. The police do however have a history of this, just ask football fans and striking miners about their coaches being turned around on mere suspicion.

11 annotations:

TheFatBigot said...

The problem these days is that it probably is a criminal offence, it's so difficult to tell when the last government created almost one new crime a day for thirteen years.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX were guilty of nothing more than conspiracy and that isn't a crime,XX

"Conspiracy to comit...."

NOT a crime?

Tell you what pal, When that is your level of legal knowledge, if you ever have to go to court, don't even DREAM of defending your case yourself.

"Cospiracy to comit..." is an offence in every country in the world that even PRETENDS to have laws, like Afghanistan, Angola, or Britain.

Anonymous said...

Hi FT,

You are absolutely correct, but this situation is not as simple as "Conspiracy to commit a CRIME". They were "conspiring" (Planning) to do a legal activity. The police thought that (quite rightly IMO) that this legal activity may result in a reaction by others that could easily turn a bit nasty although I am not sure that was the protesters intention so "Conspiracy to" may be a bit of a stretch. I see this incident more as protecting the protesters from their own stupidity.

All in all I think the police did the right thing even if they could perhaps of handled it a bit better.

Quiet_Man said...

As anonymous has said, conspiracy to protest legally is not a crime in the UK (yet)
I don't have a problem with the police going after the squatters, but I have a major problem with a pre-emptive arrest of someone who isn't going to commit a crime as such. If they'd called it taken into protective custody that would have been fine, they were in a sense protecting them from being lynched, but no they arrested them, got their dna and another part of our civil rights dies slowly by the wayside.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Depends QM. and A. Must admit I have never heard of it, but conspiracy to cause a breach of the peace?

I am not saying it is right, just that it appears the "old" rule of a police officer seeing an incident which he considers SHOULD be an offence, may serve a summons and let the court decide, is being used to the full extent of their imagination.

In other words, "these days you never can tell."

Anonymous said...

Number one of the Peelian principles of policing:-

1.The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

So, nothing new here! Move along now!

JuliaM said...

Well, I suppose they could have let them go ahead, but they'd then only have to step in when the crowd decided to, ummm, handle it themselves. Somewhat more vigorously, I suspect...

No, on this occasion, I suspect the police got it right. They have the other 364 days of the year to chant their chants, and wave their banners.

Should the police start arresting them every day of the year, then that's different, of course.

Quiet_Man said...

Oh I'm sure the police got it right from a keeping the peace perspective, I just don't like the idea of being arrested for something that I might do. But the thought of the Muslims Against Crusades getting lynched has a certain appeal after all. Plus it's traditional for there to be a fight at the wedding :-D

Oh anon, the Peelian Principles of policing haven't been abided by today's forces for a long time, why start now?

Furor Teutonicus said...

It is the amount of time that people arer being "held" for these charges that appears ominous to me.

To the station, questioned, bailed to appear and out should take about two hours, Yet more and more we are hearing of people being in the cells for, sometimes days, before being released, and a lot of times, even then, without charges.

Anonymous said...

See I would have thought that a British Bobby (as was) reaction would have been to have a quiet word with the protesters before the event pointing out that should they continue - they would likely be strung up by the mob before they could be rescued by the police - especially as the police may well be looking in the wrong direction at the time and for the duration of said 'dancin on air event'!

Thus no arrest, paperwork, dna, criminal records - overtime payments etc etc would be required. The draconian police state mentality would also be less obvious ! Protesting is not an illegal act ! Yet !

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Thus no arrest, paperwork, dna, criminal records - overtime payments etc etc would be required. XX

As an (ex) British Bobby, I would answer "EXACTLY!"