February 26th 2013 | Comments

How to perform a citizen’s arrest

Back in my day, the police were a happy-go-lucky lot, only too pleased to tell you the time. Our local cop shop didn’t have a flight of stairs in the whole building, so for a nod and a wink, we lent them the scullery staircase for days when their questioning needed a bit of a shove.

Alas, thanks of the ravages of so-called “political correctness gone mad” and “sending corrupt police officers to prison where they belong” those days are long gone, replaced by endless paperwork, targets, and seminars on how your average crim is just some broken part of the societical whole that can be fixed with a hug and a nice cup of tea.

How to perform a citizen's arrest

With your Bobby-on-the-beat now replaced with some sort of hoodie-hugging robot (and not the ace Robocop type, either), it is up to we honest citizens to help out the forces of law and order.

You can do this in two ways:

1. By putting your pants on outside your trousers (never a good look) and becoming a superhero, or

2. Performing a citizen’s arrest on an escaping crim. You’ve got Section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1974 on your side, provided you do not act in any way that could be seen as a little naughty or out of order.

You won’t be surprised to learn in these days of political correctness gone mad, that performing a citizen’s arrest is fraught with danger and is just as likely to have you in front of the beak as Johnny Robber, paying him compensation for the two kneecaps he used to have before he met your trusty Gunn and Moore cricket bat.

So, take heed:

1. Make sure you’ve got the right person. The police hate it if you get the wrong person. Also, the wrong person might not like it either.

2. Don’t use a weapon. Many do-it-yourself crime-fighters say they keep a baseball bat handy. This, to a judge, signals intent to cause harm rather intent to defend and will be punished accordingly. If somebody’s in your house at 3am, scare him out rather than start a scuffle. You might have a baseball bat, he’s probably got a kitchen knife. Call the police, in a very loud voice.

3. Catch your crim. Tell him you are a citizen making a citizen’s arrest for an indictable crime. Make sure you have witnesses to the fact. Call the police immediately, or get somebody else to do the same.

4. Avoid excessive force. You are, by law, able to incapacitate the crim until the police arrive, but no more. Crims are inventive types, and this goes as far as inventing how they got injuries

5. Do not under any circumstances move the crim, especially not to the scene of the crime where he might be “given a lesson in manners”. This is kidnap, and somewhat frowned upon by the law.

6. In fact, it is probably best that you don’t try to make a citizen’s arrest at all. The police don’t like it and the arrester is just as likely to end up in court as the arrestee.┬áJust follow him home and help him down the stairs. Leave it to the pros, no matter how busy they are.

Next week: How to avoid getting a parking ticket