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Chaos

Refusing to aid a police officer

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Chaos

"A person is guilty of refusing to aid a police officer when, upon command by a police officer identifiable or identified by the officer as such, the person unreasonably fails or refuses to aid the police officer in effecting an arrest, or in preventing the commission by another person of any offence."

 

Has anyone every had any dealings with this type of offence. Anyone ever been charged or convicted?

 

Interested to know...

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Zulu 22

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I have not been aware of that wording but if you believe Wiki it quotes the offence as 

Refusing to assist a constable is an offence under the common law of England and Wales. The offence is committed if a person refuses, without lawful excuse, to assist a constable who sees a breach of the peace committed or who is assaulted or obstructed when making an arrest, and who, where there is reasonable necessity to do so, calls upon that person to assist him. As a common law offence, it is punishable with an unlimited fine and imprisonment, although it is very rarely prosecuted.

I have never know this be used but, the salient wording would be "Without Lawful Excuse"  I think that could be put forward and argued in a Court. All a defendant would need to say would be something like, "I believed the officers actions were unlawful.

Practically it is just a moral obligation but there are many, many, many people whop would assist. I have received assistance from some unlikely people, a Scrap Metal Dealer, and a Bouncer who was on a Suspended sentence.

There are many countries that do have such an offence and I believe, but would not swear by it, that the wording you have used is from New York State. 

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Radman

One of the last times this legislation was used was supposedly by a London Transport Constable sometime in the early 50s before they too were merged into the British Transport Commission Police (BTCP) where a ticket inspector refused to assist the constable arrest a violent man - I remember reading bits of caselaw on the matter years ago but can't seem to find it now... Anyone here able to assist?

That being put to one side I said many years ago that I would give this a spin myself if I ever faced a situation where someone stood by and watched me take a shoeing or struggle with someone but truth be told I've had assistance from the public be it rail staff who often step when I've been single crewed, an off duty coldstream guardsman and even a well known beggar who brought nearby AFOs across to me when dealing with a violent escaped mental health patient...

I've always been lucky when single crewed and needing to get stuck in I've had that support from staff and public, BTP isn't as bad as it once was for single crewed bobbying.

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TheMoo
5 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

Practically it is just a moral obligation but there are many, many, many people whop would assist. I have received assistance from some unlikely people, a Scrap Metal Dealer, and a Bouncer who was on a Suspended sentence.

I remember some years ago, a news story about two officers who were transporting a detainee (a burglar, maybe) to custody, when they saw a crowd of people running and then a bloke running behind them, with (what looked like) a machine gun. The two cops got out there and took the guy down (thankfully, it turned out to be a replica), and were then followed up by the burglar that came to help hold restrain the bloke until backup came.

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bensonby

I’m sure I did an FOI to the CPS about this very offence a few years back: it had been used since the 50s, and there were a couple in recent years from what I remember. I can’t find the email now. It would be an interesting and timely FOI request to do again.

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Radman
I’m sure I did an FOI to the CPS about this very offence a few years back: it had been used since the 50s, and there were a couple in recent years from what I remember. I can’t find the email now. It would be an interesting and timely FOI request to do again.
If you can dig it out itd be interesting.

The only case law I came across was the 50s ticket inspector one.

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SD

The get out of jail free card would be any incident involving a fight. They were scared, it was too dangerous etc. I wouldn’t even bother

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MajorDisaster

The only time I have had bystander support was when 'laddo' and I crashed through a garden fence in a haze of PAVA and landed in a heap in a front garden.  I had one cuff on him and a passing chap offered a hand.  Between us we got the other cuff on and lay on him until the cavalry arrived.  Incidentally the time elapsed between me shouting up and the next unit on scene [according to bodycam] was 2 minutes 15 seconds - that was a VERY long 2 minutes 15 seconds indeed!

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Lone Wolf
On 21/11/2018 at 22:34, SD said:

The get out of jail free card would be any incident involving a fight. They were scared, it was too dangerous etc. I wouldn’t even bother

Being scared is not a defence to this charge.

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SD
23 hours ago, Lone Wolf said:

Being scared is not a defence to this charge.

Wanna bet? Because there’s no way in a million years someone will be found guilty of not helping a cop in a fight if they claim they were scared.

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BlueBob
On 23/11/2018 at 14:25, Lone Wolf said:

Being scared is not a defence to this charge.

Avoiding the moral or social reasons to assist, not sure how you might come to that from the legislation?

Perhaps the usefulness or uselessness of this legislation is reflected in the low number of cases that seem to have been taken to court or a conviction was made.  

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Jimbo26

A colleague of mine would spend some of his time on nights researching unusual legislation. I recall him talking about this one, and using it a few weeks later during a street brawl. I can not remember if it ever went to court though. This was in the early 90's

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MindTheGap
On 20/11/2018 at 21:45, Radman said:

If you can dig it out itd be interesting.

The only case law I came across was the 50s ticket inspector one.

One of BTP's old sweats who retired in 2017 used it in the early 1980s - the station master at Leeds watched a lone officer rolling around on his own with someone having called the police to deal with an abusive person. Once the officer arrived and matey boy arrested the station master, who had called police and watched  (and allegedly laughed at proceedings) was promptly arrested for failing/refusing to assist a constable and charged after admitting it, he received a fine I believe. BR later 'had' the officer transferred down to London...

 

 

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Chaos

The question was asked to PNLD and this was the reply.

"It is an offence under common law to refuse to aid or assist a constable in the execution of his duty of maintaining or restoring the Queen's Peace when called upon to do so, if that person is physically capable of rendering such help and has no lawful excuse for so refusing.
 
This would appear to be the only definition of the offence and is a result of the case of R v Brown (1841). It was held in that case that, when the defendant was requested to assist an officer to quell a riot it was necessary to prove that the constable had witnessed a breach of the peace being committed, that it was reasonably necessary for the officer to call on the defendant for his assistance and that the defendant had no physical reason or lawful excuse for his refusal.
 
In R v Sherlock (1866) it was stated that refusing to assist a constable in the execution of his duty and prevent him being assaulted by the persons in his custody in order to facilitate their escape was sufficient without having to show how the arrest had become lawful. It is also sufficient to show that the person refused to assist without having to show whether or not he did, in fact, assist.
 
In R v Waugh (1956) a London Transport ticket collector was convicted for refusing to assist a police constable who was struggling to detain a suspect.
 
The scope of a citizen's duty to assist the police seems to be limited by the conditions specified in R v Brown above. There has been no indication in any of the cases that a person's duty to assist extends beyond preserving the peace. Indeed, the courts have firmly and repeatedly stated that it is neither an offence of itself nor an obstruction of the police in the execution of their duty to refuse to help with police inquiries: Rice v. Connolly [1966] 2 Q.B. 414. That general statement is subject to various specific statutory duties to report suspicion of crimes and give information such as in relation to drug trafficking and terrorism and the proceeds of crime."

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Lone Wolf
On 24/11/2018 at 13:34, SD said:

Wanna bet? Because there’s no way in a million years someone will be found guilty of not helping a cop in a fight if they claim they were scared.

 

On 24/11/2018 at 15:43, BlueBob said:

Avoiding the moral or social reasons to assist, not sure how you might come to that from the legislation?

Perhaps the usefulness or uselessness of this legislation is reflected in the low number of cases that seem to have been taken to court or a conviction was made.  

Sorry for late reply, Chaos has quoted the PNLD reply above:

"It is an offence under common law to refuse to aid or assist a constable in the execution of his duty of maintaining or restoring the Queen's Peace when called upon to do so, if that person is physically capable of rendering such help and has no lawful excuse for so refusing.

SD - we are talking about the actual law itself, not the attitude of a court towards convicting somebody.

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