YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP
This week’s Sunday Times contains a news report that police refused to pursue two apparently stolen motorbikes because the riders were not wearing helmets.
According to the person who reported the bikes stolen, the mother of the owners, the police told her that if the alleged perpetrators were injured or killed during the chase, they or their relatives could sue the police.
If this story is true – and I have trouble believing it but cannot dismiss it out of hand – you could not have a better example of the way we have as a society have lost any sense of proportion while dealing with Health and Safety issues. Not to mention any understanding of personal responsibility.
Of course it is the responsibility of the police to consider the safety of everyone involved when chasing suspects. That does include the people being chased – they are innocent until proven guilty. But for heaven’s sake, if these guys had been hurt during a chase because they were not wearing safety helmets, that would be 100% their own responsibility. Regardless of whether they really had stolen the bikes, it is logically impossible for a motorbike rider to be injured through not having a helmet on unless he or she has chosen to break the law requiring riders to wear a helmet. Any such action against the police should be vexatious litigation for which the police should be entitled to reclaim all costs.
I wish it was that simple. When a teenage trespasser fell through the a skylight in the roof of the school where I am a governor, our immediate reaction was to double check the arrangements we had made to try to prevent people climbing on the roof, not just to prevent a repetition, but to prepare the case that we had taken reasonable measures to stop trespassers and burglars hurting themselves in case the school was sued.
In the event, the boy’s father didn’t take action against the school and did promise to pay for the broken skylight. But isn’t it sad when law-abiding people and organizations who are the targets of criminal behaviour have as much cause to fear legal action as the perpetrators?