24 Jul 2008

Assaulting the youths


This photo was taken from today's front page picture in the Guardian.

I am seeing the caption saying that police are questioning several men. That may even be true.

I am wondering though, why are they in handcuffs? Are they under arrest?

If not, is it legal for a duncey to handcuff a man in order to question him?

This reminds me of a case in the UK where a police officer was found guilty of assault and battery for holding on to the arm of a woman to prevent her from walking away. Why? Because the officer had no valid reason for stopping and questioning the victim of the assault. She effectively prevented the victim from going about on her lawful business.

Yes, in case you are wondering, laying a hand on a person can be considered as battery (CJ Holt, 1704). And in the UK these dunceys would have been charged and most likely found guilty of assault and battery.

...if a police officer restrains a man, for example by gripping his arm or his shoulder, then his action will also be unlawful, unless he is lawfully exercising his power of arrest. A police officer has no power to require a man to answer him, though he has the advantage of authority, enhanced as it is by the uniform which the state provides and requires him to wear, in seeking a response to his inquiry. What is not permitted, however, is the unlawful use of force or the unlawful threat (actual or implicit) to use force and, excepting the lawful exercise of his power of arrest, the lawfulness of a police officer’s conduct is judged by the same criteria as are applied to the conduct of any ordinary citizen of this country.

Did you know that if a police officer stops you and asks you your name, you are not required to provide it? I didn't say so, a magistrate in Point Fortin did. I distinctly remember reading it in the Express newspaper some time ago. Of course, you could be assaulted in the worse way for not doing so, which is what happened in that case, resulting in charges being brought to the victim and the resulting decision by the magistrate.

But the law is one of precedents, and if the magistrate say so, is so right? Tell that to the dunceys in the photo.