Monday 26 February 2007

Stop a criminal and get arrested

From the Daily Mail, yet another story of a law-abiding citizen arrested for doing nothing more than helping to catch a criminal. Wendy Challis-Jones saw a man pursuing a young thug who had stolen his bike, drove past the thief in her car, and then jumped out to block his path. The police arrived, and both she and the thief were arrested, although she was subsequently released without charge. So she got off rather better than some public-spirited citizens do when they take on the criminals.

Nigel Slater of North Yorkshire Police is quoted as saying:
"We are grateful to her for challenging the youth but I would warn the public that they must be wary about only using reasonable force.

"We had to interview witnesses and were very busy that day, but we do apologise. She did a good deed but we had to investigate the independent witnesses. We do not want to put people off helping the police."

Now, call me old-fashioned, but I'd always thought that the police were there to help the people, not the other way round. And that entails doing things like patrolling the streets, arresting criminals, and, when a member of the public does something like this, not treating them as the wrongdoer. Public confidence in the police is incredibly low - a brief glance at the comments in the article will tell you that. I certainly don't believe that they're good for very much, and if a crime was committed against me I'd rather take action myself than wait for the police to do it. Events like this simply reinforce this view in me, and millions of others. Perhaps Mr Slater should bear that in mind.

Of course, the rot starts at the top, and spreads down to the bobbies on the street. A few weeks ago, Home Office minister Tony McNulty advised citizens who saw a crime being committed to "jump up and down", in order to distract the criminal from his task. And the less said about Sir Ian Blair, the better.

No comments: