Even those relatively few powers that do potentially affect ordinary lives are scatter-gunned through the law books with such variation and inconsistency that no householder could possibly “know his rights”. Snook calculates that only 26% of the “266 powers” require prior notice to be given. “Of these,” he says, “56% require 24 hours’ notice, 6% 48 hours, 14% 7 days, 1.5% 10 days, 11% 14 days, 1.5% 21 days and 9% 28 days.” Who actually knows this? There are wide inconsistencies, too, in the requirement for officials to show written authority (astonishingly, most don’t have to), in the permitted use of force, in the need for a warrant, and in the penalties faced by citizens who bar the door. These range from £20 (under the Geological Survey Act) to £5,000 (Landmines Act, Broadcasting Act, Animal Health Act and many others). Some even carry a prison sentence.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Englishman's home no longer castle part II
Today's Times has interesting coverage of a report by barrister Harry Snook on the many officials with powers to enter homes (thanks, Gus!):