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Should the man who threw a swearing argumentative 19 year old fare dodger off a train in Scotland be charged with assault? Train vigilante
It would appear that the young man sustained injuries to his face as a result of his ejection from the train. As a former Police officer if you had attended this incident and the young man had made a complaint what action would you have taken?
The swearing man was verbally abusive, but was in no way physically threatening. The "big man" was physical and, technically, assaulted the swearing man. The fact that the swearing man was in the wrong does not make what the big man did right. The conductor cannot give "the green light", for want of a better expression, for a member of the public to act in this way. Indeed, the conductor should have attempted to stop the big man as his first reaction.
The initial actions of the swearing man could not, in themselves, lead to anyone being physically hurt. The actions of the big man could have lead to either party being seriously injured or, in extreme, even killed.
If either the swearing man, or big man had been seriously hurt, where would responsibility ultimately lie?
The swearing man should be followed up for fare dodging. I uspect verbal abuse like that is also an offence.
The larger man should be followed up for assault. I suspect the offence would be actual bodily harm.
If the conductor did not intervene to stop the big man, he's probably also broken internal rules I should think.
Vigilante justice in all guises is not a course to pursue. There is a world of difference between intervening in an action to reduce the incident, and intervening in a manner that escalates the incident. The big man's actions fall into the latter, in my opinion.
Additionally, the big man's actions could easily have lead to the nearby children being hurt. He was wrong to physically intervene, especially in the manner he did.
There's no doubt that it'll go to court. But the judge should take into account the grief that foul language in a public place causes to the vast majority of us and also the action of then trying to turn around the offence to an assault on himself, that frankly was caused by his own actions in the first place.
My Judge Dredd verdict:
Slap the vigilante on the wrists and tell him not to do it again.
Place the public nuisance in a pillory for 28 days in his home town.
As you will note, this is just an exact reversal of what will probably happen...
Should he be charged? IMO no.
Will he be charged is another question.
If he is charged they would also have to charge the lad.
Well it certainly looks like an offence; it is however unclear whether the ticket inspector had the power to enlist another person to eject the individual.
I imagine the transport police would normally be called who would then do the ejection. It does have the look of excessive force and therefore consideration should be given to prosecution. Is it in the public interest to do so, probably not which would leave the individual to pursue a civil case which I think he could win.
It is at the very least Common Assault; A person commits an assault if he does an act by which he intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate unlawful violence and looking at the cuts on the lads face, I would say he committed common assault, I would charge him and fine him (and the fare dodger). British Transport Police are there for the Guard to evict passengers and they are but a radio call away.
I think that this is another instance of modern technology being used to provide evidence of an incident that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. If not for the prevalence of smart phones and their ability to record these incidents then this incident as well as the previous incident of the woman shouting racist abuse on a Croydon tram would probably go unremarked with no action being taken.
It is the same as these phones being used to record alleged Police malpractice in public order situations, we all need to be aware that whatever we do in public is liable to be recorded and posted to the internet without any recourse by ourselves.
Because of this should we involve ourselves in situations like this, for fear of the possible repercussions?
These incidents do strike a chord with me, as twenty years ago I was involved in one myself. I was just about to start a night duty and was queuing for a fish and chip supper in a local takeaway. Ahead of me there was a very drunken man verbally abusing the lady serving in the shop, other people in the queue were tut tutting but otherwise doing nothing.
I assumed that the other shop workers would call the police, but they seemed very cowed by this man's behaviour. I was in uniform and felt I ought to intervene which I subsequently did after the man spat across the counter at the lady serving.
Long story short, I confronted the drunk and asked him to leave, he refused so I manhandled him out of the shop and sat him on the pavement outside. The Police arrived about five minuets later called by the shop owner and arrested the man. I received thanks from the police and the shop owner and went about my business.
If that had been today, there is the very real possibility of this incident appearing within hours on the internet, involving me and my family in unwanted publicity and possible repercussions from the LFB as I was in uniform, also the possibility of being sued by the drunk!
I didn't think twice before intervening then, I certainly would think very carefully before doing so today!
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