Friday, 20 March 2009

Chalk on pavement = Criminal Damage, but only when you question the state

Reports the Bristol Evening Post here.

A Bristol student has been charged with criminal damage after writing civil liberties slogans on a pavement in chalk, police confirmed today.


I wonder if he'd have been arrested if he was drawing a hop-scotch pattern on the pavement? Maybe the slogans he wrote were offensive?

The first read: "Liberty. The right to question it. The right to ask: Are we free?"

The second said: "As the buildings go up, the wages go down."


Nope. Maybe the chalk was somehow permenant?

Paul Saville, 23, a second-year sociology and criminology student at the University of the West of England, is alleged to have written two messages on pavements in Broadmead using water soluble chalk.


Nope.

How can it be criminal damage if he hasn't damaged anything?

Careful what you say about the state.

16 comments:

AngryDave said...

And they expect us to believe we dont live in a police state.

Martin said...

Last time I checked, chalk wasn't permentant enough to constitute criminal damage.

The kid is a friend of my housemate; he tells me he was offered advice by swarms of law students shocked by his arrest.

Martin said...

I've just spoken to housemate Aaron about this, he tells me that:
"the police searched through his mobile phone, but when he got it back, it turned out all they had done is change the language it was set to- no pictures or anything else was missing".

What the hell is going on?

Cynical Libertarian said...

"How can it be criminal damage if he hasn't damaged anything?"

It can be. Criminal Damage is defined in Section 1(1) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 as "A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence."

The 'damage' does not have to be permanent. In Roe v Kingerlee, the defendant smeared mud on the walls of a police cell, the 'damage' was not permanent, but he was found guilty. The courts view on 'damage' is whether it will cost money, time or effort to rectify, if so then 'damage' has occurred even if it is non permanent.

"Last time I checked, chalk wasn't permentant enough to constitute criminal damage."

It appears that they have some previous form for this sort of thing. In Hardman v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, CND protestors painted silhouettes on a pavement in water-soluble paint, to mark the 40th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The defendant argued that the ‘damage’ was only temporary. However the local council cleaned the pavement to remove the paint and it was held that ‘damage’ had occurred and so the protestors were guilty of criminal damage.

I may appear to be defending this state of affairs, I am not. It seems that this is being pursued with an unnecessary zeal for the severity of the crime, the response is disproportionate, but in the eyes of the law, taken in it's literal sense, entirely correct.

Martin said...

Yeah, I looked up the CND case in my law books, and it did worry me a bit- from from what the book tells me, the courts base their decision on whether or not it takes time and money to clean up.

However, I couldn't find any referance to any case that dealth with chalk specifically. This got me thinking- maybe, had the council not bothered washing away the paint, thus incouring no expense, the court would have gone the other way in their decision?

I'm not sure. I may ask a lecturer next time I'm in uni.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

There has been at least one recent case where children have been admonished for chalking hopskotch on the pavement.
"The courts view on 'damage' is whether it will cost money, time or effort to rectify, if so then 'damage' has occurred even if it is non permanent."
We all know that this is nonsense and provided it is kept in the public eye no magistrate would dare to convict on this case.

I suspect that the accused is some form of pinko commie tree hugging fellow traveller but he still deserves all our support, letters to the editor, that kind of thing.

Bristol Dave said...

pinko commie tree hugging fellow traveller

He doesn't seem that bad from the BEP article.

It could be argued that chalk doesn't take time/money/effort to clean up - just wait for it to rain! Especially at the time it was done (January). I wonder if his chalkings were cleared up - probably not.

seebag said...

If we are to live in this grotesque State, and if this guys mobile phone language setting was changed by the police, then he should pursue them for damage since it's going to take time and trouble to put right. Or is it one law for us and a different one for the police?

Anonymous said...

Anyone up for a little stroll round london on the 2nd?

Anonymous said...

I think they used him to set an example. Students used to be the most proactive group politically in the 1960s and now once they get going again the government will be scared s... I've been told that sixth form college authorities have been asked to report any unusual behaviour in students.

Anonymous said...

WAKE UP EVERYONE AND WHEN JUNE ARRIVES VOTE FOR THE BNP

Anonymous said...

WAKE UP EVERYONE AND WHEN JUNE ARRIVES LETS GET RID OF THIS COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT BY VOTEING BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY IN THE EURO ELECTION.
ONLY THE BNP CAN GET OUR FREEDOMS AND COUNTRY BACK
www.bnp.org.uk

Bristol Dave said...

I'm happy to get rid of the communist government, but I don't think I'll be "voteing" for the BNP somehow.

Partially because I think Nick Griffin is a cunt.

Cynical Libertarian said...

"Conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others." Emma Goldman

In short, patriotism / nationalism sucks.

M.D.Edwards said...

Thank you Bristol Dave. A link to your post has been added to the following Facebook group:

GLOBAL PEACE NOW. LET'S CHALK OUR VERSION OF "GUERNICA" ON THE STREETS
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=173787790483

...

PICASSO'S "GUERNICA", MEET CHALK. CHALK, MEET PICASSO'S "GUERNICA".
http://www.chalk4peace.org/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ_uGbQanNw
http://books.google.com/books?q=Picasso+Guernica
http://www.infinitepossibility.org/chalk/

Beour said...
This comment has been removed by the author.