4 October 2007

"Going missing" and wasting police resources

> DomPost: "'Missing' man may face police charges" I was interested to see this charge being used by the Police against Dormer(although I am still reflecting on its propriety in these circumstances). The offence is found in section 24 of the Summary Offences Act:

s 24 False allegation or report to Police Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding $2,000 who,— (a) Contrary to the fact and without a belief in the truth of the statement, makes or causes to be made to any constable any written or verbal statement alleging that an offence has been committed; o (b) With the intention of causing wasteful deployment, or of diverting deployment, of Police personnel or resources, or being reckless as to that result,— (i) Makes a statement to any person that gives rise to serious apprehension for his own safety or the safety of any person or property, knowing that the statement is false; or (ii) Behaves in a manner that is likely to give rise to such apprehension, knowing that such apprehension would be groundless.

The interesting thing about the offence is that it is one of "ulterior intent", that is, the behaviour in question ("going missing") is only unlawful if it is done with a particular state of mind (intending or being reckless as to causing wasteful deployment of Police resource). Proving this in these circumstances would require proof of one of the following: - Dormer's goal, purpose or desire was to cause the wasteful deployment of Police resources (unlikely); - Dormer can otherwise be treated as having intended to cause the wasteful deployment of Police resources, which as a minimum would require that he was aware or foresaw that it was "virtually certain" that going missing in those circumstances would cause the wasteful deployment of Police resources (possible; arguably this was virtually certain and would probably been foreseen by Dormer); - Dormer foresaw that that there was a risk that going missing in those circumstances would cause the wasteful deployment of Police resources and that risk was an unreasonable one to take, ie he was (subjectively) reckless (most probable). The important thing here is that he can only be convicted if he was, as a minimum, aware that there was a risk that Police resources would be wasted. If he didn't turn his mind to that or was honestly ignorant that the Police were seeking him (or the risk that they would be seeking him), he can't be convicted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you interested in the charges - or are you interested in thw charges beause the man is gay?

Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"

This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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