Posts Tagged 'fitness'

I fell on the playing field, the work of an errant heel…

How does the law decide when sport becomes assault? (Image from Reuters)

Earlier this week David Nalbandian had lost his temper somewhat during the Aegon Championships in London and ended up kicking an advertising board towards line judge Andrew McDougall.

McDougall apparently suffered a cut to his shin as a result and Nalbandian was fined over £6000 by the Association of Tennis Professionals and also thrown out the competition.

With the incident being captured on camera from many different angles and taking place in front of several hundred witnesses, the MET have now stated that a complaint of assault has been made against Nalbandian and that they are investigating.

There’s nothing to stop the law getting involved in incidents that happen on the sports pitch but there are certain considerations that are made when deciding if a player’s conduct is not only unsporting, but criminal.

What does the law have to say though when cricket isn’t cricket?

In a few short weeks hundreds of thousands of people around the world are going to pay to watch two people do their very best to kick one another in the head.

In case you’d not guesses it, these people are at the Olympics and they’re locked in vicious combat to decide who is the best at kicking and punching. Eventually one of them will have been kicked in the face enough times to be declared the winner and will get a gold medal and a concussion.

The important thing to consider in this competition – I think it’s probably Taekwondo – is that both of the competitors have consented to taking a little physical punishment in their pursuit of Olympic bruising.

It’s this consent that makes all the difference when the decision is made as to whether a prosecution is appropriate in relation to an injury inflicted in the sporting arena.

The law, and those playing, both accept that in a contact sport, the consequence of said contact may be some degree of pain or injury. The question is does the way that the injury was inflicted fall within the rules and practice of the game?

From the off, the catchy ‘Attorney-General’s Reference No 6 of 1980′ makes it clear that people can consent to being assaulted during the course of ‘properly conducted sports and games’.

This ability to consent established, case law has gone on to clarify how far the consent stretches.

R v Lloyd (1989) made it clear that an injury caused on the pitch but outside the scope of the game’s rules – deliberately kicking a fallen rugby player in the face – was still an assault and could be treated as such.

R v Barnes (2004) examined a case involving a footballer who had broken a player’s leg in a tackle after that player had scored. The issue was when is it appropriate for criminal prosecutions to be launched in relation to an injury caused during a sporting event, and the ruling was as such – the nature of the sport has to be considered before a decision can be made.

Expanding on this slightly, the implication of the ruling was that a broken nose suffered during a professional level boxing match would be viewed differently from the same injury resulting from a punch being thrown on a school badminton court.

As there is a level of injury that can be suffered legitimately before it becomes criminal, it’s important that a sport’s ruling body has firm rules and penalties in place to deal with unsporting behaviour of a level that falls below that at which the courts can deal.

Coming back to the Nalbandian incident and taking into account the case law, especially R v Barnes, those investigating will have to consider how the norms of tennis reflect on the judge’s ‘consent’ to suffering some level of injury.

He’s sat at the edge of the playing area so being hit by an errant tennis ball would likely fall under the umbrella of consent that he has granted to risk injury. What about a flying Nike advertising board though?

As an ongoing investigation I’m hesitant to speculate (so I won’t!) but I think it’s certainly an interesting case. As a tennis player, Nalbandian may be thinking “A criminal investigation? You CANNOT be serious!”.

When it comes to the law, the police may well find that they can.

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting…

A Day In The LifeParading at Walsall Police Station, Friday January 20th 2012, Tour of Duty – 08:30 to 15:30

Once every year all front line police officers are required to attend a ‘Personal Safety Training’ (PST) course to refresh their skills in restraint of prisoners, use of handcuffs, CS spray, batons and the like. Many officers refer to the course as ‘ninja training ‘ and having been a year since I last did a PST course, today was my turn.

First of all for any of you smarty pants readers, the courses are staggered throughout the year so that you don’t get all eight thousand West Midlands officers descending on the gym at Walsall at the same time. That cleared up, what does a PST refresher involve?

The course is two days long and prior to attending we have to complete an online learning package to go over the legal aspects associated with using force. The laws allowing us to use force where necessary and the force policies are then interwoven with the practical exercises over the course itself.

Starting off in the morning – after we’ve drunken some tea – we will have just about got used to the sight of each other wearing tracksuits when we do a few warm up exercises which involve walking in circles, waving our arms and then doing both at the same time.

Sufficiently warmed up/dizzy, we then looked at the correct application of handcuffs. This involved me experiencing a rather skillful ‘take down’ from my partner and hearing the ratchet sound of the cuffs as they locked around my wrists. It’s always a bit of an odd feeling being on the other end of the cuffs but it was a useful reminder of how they feel for when I go back to putting them on other people.

We then start a consolidation exercise building on the inputs from the previous day which involved being given foam batons, training CS canisters filled with water and then being attacked by an aggressor armed with a martial arts pad and a mean attitude. I yelled “GET BACK, STAY BACK”, he didn’t and so I gave a quick burst from my ‘CS’ and then delivered a baton strike to his leg, allowing me then to handcuff him and bring him under control.

Lunch follows and then in the afternoon we spent some time looking at how we can encourage people out of motor vehicles when they’re not keen on joining us on the roadside for a chat. We also did exercises involving ‘cell extractions’ – how to safely put people into or remove people from custody cells – and then we spent some time on searching skills.

The point of the training isn’t so much to teach us how to do things as skills like handcuffing we do all the time, nor is it carried out with the aim that we’ll use every technique we’re shown. Rather it helps ensure that we’re able to use our kit in a safe and effective manner and that should we need it, we have something to fall back on to protect ourselves.

As the trainers say, they give us a ‘box of tools’ which we can pick from as we see necessary. Many of the techniques, especially those involving batons and CS, we hope we never need – I’ve never used either of mine – and it’s quite rightly stressed that the best PST skill of all is talking your way out of a situation.

The day finished with the authorisation cards allowing us to carry our batons and CS being handed out and with this done, we are able to leave the gym and admire the red marks lefts on our wrists by the cuffs!

Born to run…

This is a quick post to promote the good – slightly crazy – work of fellow Walsall Officer PC Paul Swan who is entered into this year’s London Marathon and is hoping to run past the finish line and into the record books as the fastest person to complete the race wearing a costume. He is raising money for Cancer Research UK and had set a very modest donations target of £1000, which he has now exceeded but considering the scope of the challenge I don’t see why we couldn’t push that amount a little higher. Paul currently runs around a hundred miles a week (some LONG foot chases!) and was recently featured in the Express & Star, impressing their reporter with his commitment to training in readiness for the marathon. Paul’s in a better position to tell you about the attempt than I am so here’s what he has to say about it -

“I am a 48 year old serving Police Officer in the West Midlands and I am based at Walsall Police Station. I have run a number of Marathons and my PB is 2.29.54 and I ran 2.48.10 in last years London Marathon. During the past year both my wife and stepfather have been diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully my wife is on the road to a full recovery, but in my father’s case the outlook doesn’t look good at this stage. In order to raise some money and to raise the awareness of this terrible illness I have decided this year to run London, in full uniform which consists of the following:

Helmet, Shirt, Stab Vest, Trousers and also carrying Police issue baton and handcuffs.

This record attempt has been verified by the Guinness Book of records, Tracking ID 30823. The record stands at just under 5 hours, and I am looking to finish in approx 3hr 15 mins. My running number is 221 so if you happen to be in London on the 17th, please give me a cheer.

So please dig deep and donate now.

Any amount would be gratefully received and I know will be put to great use. Many thanks for all donations – Paul”

Donations can be made via Paul’s JustGiving site, and if you’re eligible for Gift Aid the Queen herself will boost your donation by round about 25%!

This tune was composed by Spencer the Rover…

Me at Limestone Corner, Northumberland, during my four day passage across Northern England via the Hadrian's Wall path

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