31 January 2006

Why Not?

A spokesman for Devon and Cronwall Police said: 'We would never recommend confronting a thief but in this instance the victim may have had God on her side' (Quoted from today's Metro)

The story was that Reverend Bill Stuart-White broke off his sermon to pursue and apprehend thieves who had run out of the church with a parishioner's handbag.

But this is what I was complaining about when I said:

In spite of the law of self-defence, and of the traditional principle that it is not only a right, but also a duty of the citizen to prevent crime if possible when it occurs, and indeed to apprehend criminals, the idea has been propogated that the most responsible and respectable thing to do is to leave it all to the police

I really wish the police would explain that they can't possibly track down every petty criminal on their own, and would go on to recommend that citizens act to prevent crime and apprehend criminals whenever there is no obvious danger.

And as for the "divine intervention" jokes made by police and media alike, would it not have been more insightful to emphasise what could be done by a man in good physical condition who had the respect of the people around him?

Finally, what about the scandal that today's teenage bag-snatchers cannot outrun a 47-year-old rector (admittedly a rugby-playing one)? I blame the selling-off of school playing fields.

Of course, where there is no obvious danger there might still be non-obvious danger. A petty thief can produce a knife and maim or kill someone. Even if someone is a police officer. No-one - including a police officer - should bite off more than they can chew, but if we are all too terrified to chase a fleeing teenage petty criminal in a small town in Cornwall, then our civilization is already lost.

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