Government Robbery

There isn\’t any other possible description of this: it\’s out and out robbery by the Government:

Police will be able to seize high-value assets from suspected drug dealers as soon as they are arrested under plans to be unveiled this week by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.

Law-enforcement agencies will be able to take cars, televisions, laptops and expensive jewellery belonging to big-time offenders. Such assets can currently only be seized at the end of a criminal process, by which time drug dealers have often disposed of them.

The reason that we have a criminal process is because we rather like to find out whether people are in fact guilty of being drug dealers, rather than just suspected. Taking their belongings purely upon suspicion is theft, pure and simple.

I\’m ghasted and flabbered that such a thing is even being considered: it\’s bad enough now that confiscation happens under the civil (and thus the less onerous burdens or proof) law rather than criminal, but to seize purely upon charging?

6 thoughts on “Government Robbery”

  1. “seize purely upon charging?”

    Absolutely no chance of this happening. Because:

    “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.”

    In my view there are three possibilities here:

    1. This is to “Send A Message”. Blair pioneered the use of legislation in place of a press release (c.f. “glorifying terrorism”). Cracking down on evil people, blah blah blah.
    2. The ministers know this will be overturned, their dogs in the Mail etc. can be allowed to run loose on “Human Rights Act, more like Drugs Dealers Rights Act, its an outrage” (etc. etc.)
    3. The Home Office is staffed with utter fuckwits, top to bottom.

    Of course, these options are not mutually exclusive (with particular reference to point 3).

  2. I’m not sure why, but the Telegraph reports this uncritically, as if churning a press release. The Times has a much better report, with comment from Shami at Liberty, and David Davis. And indeed the piece makes the point that the HRA will slap this down very quickly.

  3. Kay-Don’t be too sure about the chances of that happening. In the USA, police can size “large” amounts of cash discovered after a traffic stop (for example) without even making a charge. The onus is then on the “suspect” to prove that the funds were lawfully obtained to recover them. Similiarly, all of a suspect’s posessions in a narcotics case will be impounded pending the outcome of the charges. This is supposedly to prevent them from disposing of them (proceeds of crime) in the interim. However, it also deprives the charged from obtaining better legal representation as the seizure will include bank accounts.

  4. Wow, the audacity.

    Just stealing stuff from some bloke, and then making restitution conditional on his ability to prove he deserved his own property in the first place, what a wheeze. What a stroke of criminal genius.

    Like most people, I wouldn’t be able to demonstrate justified title to the skin on my own arse. And unlike most people, I have retained every payslip of my 35 year career. But I can never prove that I didn’t supplement that income with any criminal activity.

    And I don’t believe for a moment that any major league dealers are going to be caught in this net, so who are they going after really?

  5. You realise that a person can have assets confiscated under this act even if he was found not guilty of the crime of which they are claimed to be the proceeds? See here.

  6. “Don’t be too sure about the chances of that happening. In the USA, police can size “large” amounts of cash discovered after a traffic stop (for example) without even making a charge.”

    I suppose that just because you have a constitution, doesn’t mean the Supreme Court gets to do a proper job (c.f. insane eminent domain ruling).

    “You realise that a person can have assets confiscated under this act even if he was found not guilty of the crime of which they are claimed to be the proceeds?”

    I’m not particularly comfortable with this, of course. But a couple of points:

    1. The burden of proof in civil cases is lower than criminal. Yes, the State shouldn’t be taking civil cases against people, I know.

    2. This happened under an existing act, not the proposed one. The proposed one (if reports are to be believed) allows a police officer to confiscate assets. Under the HRA seizure can only be done after an independent tribunal has made a ruling, and police officers (surprise, surprise!) are not independent (and often complicit in crime: see recent case of man being killed after policeman gave out DVLA database details to criminal colleague).

    I don’t have any faith in politicians to protect people: the State is largely evil (by act, if not motive). A constitution (or our HRA) is there to protect us from the State, and it’s all we’ve got. So I have to have some faith in it (and yes, it chills me to the marrow how effective the mob campaign against the HRA has been).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *