Sunday, June 26, 2011

Silly Season Comes Early

The papers are getting excited about some very old news. Section 5 Public Order Act is the street copper's standby for which he can arrest and may issue a Penalty Notice. The offender has to cause 'harassment alarm and distress' and the courts recognised a long time ago that a PC should have a rather thicker skin than some passing grandmother. Most of us see that as common sense (as did a higher court) so the story is a lot of nothing really.

This is what the CPS guidance says:

There must be a person within the sight or hearing of the suspect who is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by the conduct in question. A police officer may be such a person, but remember that this is a question of fact to be decided in each case by the magistrates. In determining this, the magistrates may take into account the familiarity which police officers have with the words and conduct typically seen in incidents of disorderly conduct. (DPP v Orum [1988] Crim LR 848)

Seems fair enough to me.

1 comment:

  1. I understand the point made, however when I see people swearing with impunity at police officers I am always struck with a feeling of unease. The impotence of the police is always a little awkward to watch (although perhaps they just don't want the hassle of paperwork!) and forbidding this behaviour doesn't seem an unreasonable act for a civilized country.


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