You Ain't Got No Warrant
I am often being told by people, usually skinheaded youths or dole-receiving single mothers, that I "can't go in without no warrant". This is usually followed up with the information that said youth or mother "knows the law, yeah".
It has now transpired that the Met didn't have no warrant, but had consent to search the office from the Serjeant-at-Arms.
- First, you don't need a warrant to search premises controlled by someone if that someone is in custody for an indictable offence and an inspector has authorised it under s.18 Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
- Second, you don't need a warrant if consent is given for the search by the person in control of the property. For example a parent gives consent to search their child's room, even if the child is over 18 (as long as they're not considered a tenant).
- Third, anyone who gives someone a job title of Serjeant-of-Arms [sic] should not expect that serjeant to know or care a great deal about anything other than ancient codes of chivalry and heraldic emblems. Let's face it, Serjeant Jill Pay probably spends most of her day leaning against a doorpost in an impossible tall and cold Gothic hallway.
As the Cabinet stick by the police whilst disowning all knowledge of the affair, there may be half a thought in the Home Secretary's mind that this probably all started when a constituent of Ashford reported that someone was leaking documents and named the MP as the offender. Under the National Crime Recording Standards introduced by this government, the force had to record this as a crime and list the suspect. For all we know the Met have introduced a Positive Intervention policy when it comes to whistle-blowing and had no choice therefore but to arrest the named offender immediately, whether or not there was any evidence.
Either way, a lot of people have stuck their necks out this week saying it is an outrage that Damian Green MP was arrested. A lot of people had better hope that Damian Green MP really has done no more than leak documents provided to him by a civil servant in the way that many have before him. Something tells me there's more to this than straightforward whistle-blowing which half the House have probably indulged in to get where they are.
Still, I've burned my hard drive just to be sure, and told the Serjeant who guards my front door not to let anyone in with or without a warrant.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.