Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

April 23, 2007

British Police Breaking Social Contract

by Brad Warbiany

I thought this was simple. You pay taxes, and in return, the government will do what it can to protect you and to investigate crimes. You’d think that in Britain, where taxes are incredibly high, this would mean that the police will respond to your every beck and call, right?

Well, not so. Now they want you to pay extra for them to investigate crimes:

Motorists whose cars are stolen are being told they must pay the police at least £105 if they want them to recover their vehicle when it is found and check it for forensic clues.

The scheme — being implemented by forces across the country — has been attacked by angry motorists.

Only car owners who agree to pay the fee, which in theory is to cover storage, are assured their cars will be “forensicated” — which means dusted down for fingerprints or swabbed for DNA.

A police letter approved by the Home Office warns motorists who recover their own vehicles that the cars will not be checked for clues. It states: “[The police force will accept] no further responsibility and will be unable to take further action to identify the person who took it.”

Okay, this isn’t important, but I’m pretty sure “forensicated” isn’t a word.

Think about this, though. With the exchange rate, this means that you’d be charged about $200 by the police for them to put any effort into catching the criminal who stole your car. What we’re talking about here is a deterrent. If car thieves know that individual citizens aren’t going to pay extra to have the crime investigated, it drastically cuts the chances that they’ll be caught. Now, I know if my car was stolen, unless there were specific damages that I couldn’t recover through insurance, I wouldn’t want to pay an extra $200 to catch the guy who did it. The only thing I’d be gaining is validation of my sense of justice, but I get no other benefit from seeing the perpetrator go to jail.

It’s the job of the police to investigate crimes, and catch the perpetrators. The police are abdicating their responsibility. But alas, this is the problem with government. Sane people, when their government stopped providing the services it was put in place to provide, would stop patronizing that government [i.e. stop paying taxes]. But while the police may not bother to investigate crimes against individuals, you can be darn sure that the government will investigate tax protestors, probably to the ends of the earth and back again.

Both America and Britain are starting to face the same problem: government which does the things we’d rather it not, and giving up their responsibility to do the things they’re supposed to. Remind me again why I should hold up my end of the “social contract” if the government won’t hold up theirs?

Hat Tip: commenter Ted

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