Posts Tagged 'Theft Act 1968'

She could steal but she could not rob…

“Help! We’re being robbed! Or burgled? Or is this theft?” – where’s the difference?

“They broke into me house when I was out and they robbed me telly!” – This is a report that’ll be made to officers across the country on a daily basis but is it actually robbery? Is ‘theft’ different and where do we draw the line?

For us police officers, language makes a big difference. Swapping one word for another can make the difference between someone walking away from the cells with a caution and instead walking down the steps to prison.

Theft, burglary, robbery – all are similar offences but separated by some very important distinctions that affect how we and the courts would deal with offenders.

Starting off with the most basic offence, theft, us officers get made to memorise the definition given S. 1 by the Theft Act 1968 that a person commits theft when he or she ‘dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it’.

The Act defines exactly what each component of this definition means, basically implying that the law will classify you as a thief is you knowingly take property that you have no right to and treat it in such a way as to prevent the lawful owner having use of it.

Robbery stems from this basic offence – theft is the seed from which the latter crime grows and without this seed, robbery cannot occur.

Robbery is defined under S. 8 of the Theft Act and is where in order to steal, an offender uses force or the threat of force. The force can be used before the theft takes place or at the time and doesn’t necessarily have to be against the victim.

So robbery is theft with the accompanying use of force, how is burglary different?

Whilst force is the separating factor between theft and robbery, it is trespassing that makes burglary distinct from simple theft. S. 9 of the Theft Act defines burglary with reference to entering ‘any building or part of a building as a trespasser’.

Not content with making the definition as simple as that though, S. 9 throws in a further consideration that if you enter a building as a trespasser not to steal but instead to cause damage or to seriously assault someone you can also consider yourself a burglar.

So there we have it, theft separated from robbery and the two more or less set apart from burglary. All are serious crimes and ones that we’re working hard to prevent with operations such as Serve & Protect ongoing to target the worst offenders.

As for how well we’re doing, you can have a look at some of the crime stats over on our official website – notice the drop in robbery by nearly a third since 2002 and total crime falling by not far from 20%.

The figures are heading in the right direction, no doubt partially due to people following crime prevention tips and avoiding becoming victims in the first place.

We’re looking to steal the easy opportunities from the criminals – with your help I’m sure we can drive crime down even further!

P.S. I had been asked by a friend to clarify what the difference is between the offences of ‘assault with intent to rob’ and ‘attempted robbery’. Looking into the advice that CPS offer, it seems that the first offence is an appropriate one to go for if the victim has managed to retain their property during, say, a struggle with the offender on the street. It is, however, an apparent grey area and I’d encourage anyone with a more detailed knowledge than me to leave a comment expanding further?

I’m carryin’ a torch for you, baby…

Flaming heck, it’s the Olympic Flame’s route for Saturday June 30th!

If you’ve driven by Walsall Police Station recently you may have noticed a lovely yellow sign sitting on the pavement advising that there are some upcoming road closures. Being an attentive driver you’ve kept your eyes on the road but you did glance something about June 30th. What’s happening on June 30th though?

Well, after taking the strangest route possible from Olympia, the Olympic Flame will finally be completing its historic journey and arriving on the good streets of our fair town.

It should be a great day and even if the thought of someone running through the streets brandishing a flaming torch doesn’t ignite your interest, there are plenty of other events taking place for you to enjoy.

The arrival of the flame is a historic event and will likely attract a large amount of media interest, especially considering the important role played by Walsall in the original Olympic games several thousand years ago.

Greek folklore has it that after Prometheus stole fire from Zeus, he took it to Walsall and hid it in a cave at the bottom of Park Street, the location of which is now marked by the town’s famous concrete hippo.

The symbolism of the hippo has been lost over time although some say that even on the coldest of nights, the hippo feels warm to the touch as though the ancient fire still burns beneath its belly.

Okay, some of the above may not be true (does anybody know why there is a concrete hippo in Walsall?) however torch day is sure to be one that’ll be burnt into people’s memory for many years to come.

This said, where can you see it and after you’ve seen it, what else can you do to celebrate Prometheus’ shameless offence against S. 1 of the Theft Act 1968?

As you can see from the above map, the flame’s route takes it down Bloxwich High Street onto Green Lane and then around the town centre. After refreshments (it’ll have burnt a few calories by this point) it’ll get hot on the tail of its escort and shoot down Wolverhampton Road, across Junction 10 and into Willenhall before leaving the Walsall area for Wolverhampton.

We estimate (and these plans could go up in smoke) that the torch will arrive in Bloxwich at around 11:50 and then enter the town centre at 12:25. It’ll be leaving Walsall again at 13:45, should reach Willenhall at 14:20 and will be leaving again ten minutes later.

Between Leamore Lane and Green Lane and also whilst crossing Junction 10 the torch will not be on display as it’ll be hitching a lift with the support team.

The route planned for the torch will be closed off in advance so you’re advised to make alternate transport arrangements on the day itself, lest you get caught up in the festivities and little hot under the collar.

Bloxwich, Walsall and Willenhall are all holding their own celebrations to mark the flame’s arrival which include face painting, food, music and more. You can find out more about the events on the Walsall for 2012 website and they’re encouraging you to contact them and get involved so please feel free to do so.

If you’re outside Walsall and would like to know where the flame is going, check out the official route for more info.

The flame’s arrival is sure to be warmly received* and as a once in a lifetime event, it’s one that you’re not going to want to miss. Morrissey once wrote ‘there is a light that never goes out’ – go out it hopefully won’t, but come to Walsall again it may well never do so make sure you make the most of it!

* Apologies for my flame puns, I tried to stop but I was simply on fire with them…

Climbing up the walls…

An urban explorer perched at the top of the Shard building last year - was he breaking the law though? (Image from Silent UK)

An interesting story popped up in the news yesterday revealing that at some point last year a group of ‘urban explorers’ had visited the newly constructed Shard skyscraper in London.

This is all well and good you might think. Thing is, they’d visited it at night and without permission, they’d evaded security patrols and clambered all the way to the peak where they then scaled the crane at the building’s crown and took a few photos as proof of their reaching of the summit.

First of all as this is a police blog I’ve got to say that I wouldn’t recommend anyone try anything similar. As I’ll discuss below, such trespassing is against the law and not only this, can be pretty dangerous too. A fall from a construction site is unlikely to have worked out particularly well for the visitors and in the Shard’s case, the building has previously been occupied by foxes meaning they risked a mauling too.

The risks of being gobbled up by (presumably) hungry foxes aside, what does the law have to say about trespassing and is it something that you could get arrested for?

When it comes to entering another person’s land as a trespasser, the law you may be breaking is predominately a civil law. Us police officers deal with criminal law – the sort that can end you up in jail – and as such, we rarely are involved with civil matters other that to provide advice.

As walking onto another person’s property without permission, to give an example, is a civil concern, it is up to the owner of the land to take up a complaint in the civil courts if he or she seeks legal remedy. I’m not able to take my handcuffs out to deal with a trespasser as I don’t have the power to do so.

This said, it certainly isn’t the case that trespassing is exclusively a civil matter and there are several pieces of legislation that make trespassing a criminal offence under certain conditions.

The most obvious one is burglary which by definition is entering a building as a trespasser with the intention of stealing. This means that if you don a stripey top and clamber into someone’s property with the intention of filling your swag bag, you can expect a trip to the cells.

Other bits of legislation that make provisions for trespass to be a criminal offence include the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the Firearms Act 1968 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Under Section 63 of the Sexual Offences Act it is an offence to trespass on premises with the intention of committing a sexual offence whilst on the premises. Section 20 of the Firearms Act makes it a criminal offence to trespass on land whilst in possession of a firearm and Section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act gives the police the power to deal with trespassers on land who have entered with the common purpose of residing there.

Perhaps the best source of criminal law in relation to trespassing though comes from Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act of 1824 relating to ‘persons committing certain offences to be deemed rogues and vagabonds’. We now refer to the offence created under this section as being ‘found on enclosed premises’ and means that it is against the law to be found on an enclosed premises (which would include climbing on a building) for an unlawful purpose.

Sticking with the Vagrancy Act for a moment, it also includes provisions to define ‘who shall be deemed incorrigible rogues’ and makes provisions granting to courts ‘power of sessions to detain and keep to hard labour, and punish by whipping rogues and vagabonds and incorrigible rogues’. I imagine these parts have since been repealed but probably best not risk it…

Urban exploration is an area of interest to myself and there are some excellent websites knocking around the internet showing the exploits of those who are keen to document abandoned buildings around the world.

If you’re interested, I’d recommend taking a peek at Subterranea Britannica and also at Abandoned Britain – both which have some great photos from sites that will likely be lost to history over the next few years.

When it comes to urban exploring, ‘building hacking’ or however you dress it, the most important consideration is that it is done lawfully and safely. I can appreciate that this strips the fun out of dodging the sweep of the security guard’s flashlight however it is a fair point – the law is clear on trespass and from the sounds of it, the Vagrancy Act is not one you’d want to cross!

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