I wrote about this subject yesterday but deleted the post because I felt that I had been somewhat railroaded into it by a slow news day, overnight it would seem that more facts have been discovered so I am dusting off my soap box. The story that caught my attention was that a police officer, actually a WPC although I don’t believe that her sex was relevant, was suing a petrol station owner for damages having tripped on his premises whilst attending a suspected burglary. The owner was present when the ‘accident’ took place and said the WPC seemed more embarrassed than anything, the pictured location showed a sound kerbstone and no reason to trigger a trip but the WPC’s solicitor is suing because the owner has an obligation to ensure the safety of their premises under common law. Before leaping in to attack the law it is important to remember that the common law obligations to maintain safe premises are well founded and a useful piece of legislation, let me explain why. Before the obligations were enshrined in law it was legal to leave a building in a manner that was dangerous to any trespassers, I know that many people are saying ‘bloody right they shouldn’t be trespassing’ but the result was often that inquisitive children would be horribly injured and so the question became one of how well the entrance should be secured. The current legal position is that a building or land owner must keep the premises in a condition that ensures the safety of all who could be reasonably expected to enter and must consider trespassers although the standard is lower for those entering illegally.
Getting back to the story, the WPC’s case is being funded by an off shoot of the police officer’s federation which is, to all intent and purpose, their union although they have said that they are only supporting the officer’s choice. This morning it has emerged that police officers in this country are ‘earning’ over £20M a year from claims brought against the public, many of these claims are paid out of the public purse so essentially the same pot that pays their high salaries and gold-plated pensions. It is widely acknowledged that the public’s perception of the police is at an all time low and yet they keep digging lower, I hope that the press keep this story alive until the legislation is changed to remove the right of the emergency services to make civil claims in all cases where there is not malicious intent. Very few people would actually want to be a police officer, it’s a largely unexciting and routinely unpleasant job but, in the UK at least, it carries relatively low risk the job is therefore the reserve of less well-educated people who want to earn more than their intellectual value, have a short working life and an excellent pension. I have no issue with rewarding people well for a job that I wouldn’t want to do, I was a bit dismayed at the uproar when their career was extended from 25 years to 30 but hey I guess none of us like change.
This latest revelation in a long line of reasons not to respect the police is, I think, more worrying than a lot of them because it will mean that we have to change the way that we educate our children and live our lives:
- If you are approached by a stranger tell a policeman – will become: if you are approached by a stranger make sure that they have left before you tell a policeman or he may feel obliged to chase them and then if he gets cramp he will sue your parents.
- In an emergency don’t think, dial 999 – will become: in an emergency, check for sharp edges, tidy up and then call 999
- In the event of a fire get out, stay out, call 999 – will become: in the event of a fire get out, stay out, wait for it to go out, call 999
- In general a fence below 6′ in height at the rear of a building does not require planning consent – in future all such fences will be prohibited for fear that a policeman injures himself chasing a criminal over them
I could go on but I fear for my sanity, somebody please get a grip on the overpaid uniform wearers of this country if you are only there for personal gain and to milk the system then you’re in the wrong job, you should be an MP.