Monday, January 25, 2010

More Seismic Shock

Some further material on the Seismic Shock blog issue, including a rather half-hearted response from the Police:

http://blog.indexoncensorship.org/2010/01/25/seismic-shock-sizer-police-blog/

There's an overview here:

http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/stephen-sizer-the-police-and-the-barbra-streisand-effect/

Let's be clear - we have no idea what views the Rev. Stephen Sizer actually holds or whether there is any basis at all for the position taken by Seismic Shock, but we can take it from his reported comments that Sizer completely refutes the accusations made about him.

That is beside the point that we're making here.

If Seismic Shock has defamed Sizer then that is a civil matter and not a criminal matter. Why the police are involved is consequently baffling. The statement issued by West Yorkshire Police refers to a complaint of harassment. This presumably means that they had in mind the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), which defines harassment as a course of conduct that causes alarm or distress.

Even that doesn't make it any less baffling.

Does this mean that any course of conduct (i.e., doing something more than once) that causes anyone alarm or distress is going to result in a visit from the police? Not if it's a course of conduct reasonable in the circumstances - see the Act (1 (3) (c) - emphases added below) for that:

1 Prohibition of harassment

(1) A person must not pursue a course of conduct—

(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

(2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—

(a) that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,

(b) that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or

(c) that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.


The police need to do some more explaining on this one, or the impression that the UK is being turned into a police state will persist. You can't even photograph or film buildings without getting questioned or even arrested. Even a celebrity photographing a funfair ride is cause for police intervention. They need to explain why they concluded that this matter needed to be pursued, why, that is, they apparently concluded that Seismic Shock's conduct was unreasonable.

It would also help if Seismic Shock laid out the evidence again and explained exactly why they believe that the course of conduct they pursued was reasonable in the particular circumstances.

1 comment:

ModernityBlog said...

Excellent points, and I enjoyed your post about Dublin's signs.