By Amanda Warren
Should a gas company be allowed to force entry to check on something without notifying the occupant? As unfortunate as it is to see this kind of authoritarian action from private companies, what can we do to effectively stand up to such behavior?
As more people ask about solutions to violations of civil liberties, more also rise to the occasion to offer those examples in action. We have talked before about building citizen response networks and even phone apps to help with peer-to-peer teams.
A UK man acting as a citizen responder to a call about the attempted break-in rightly asked for a warrant of entry. British Gas said it was to inspect electric meters. And it was not without the fanfare of a police entourage and a locksmith. Eventually, drills and hammers get involved… All so the gas company can get into the house!
As the uploader Trial By Social Media says, if these are the true facts, then there were many absurd and obvious violations that may have gone on were it not for a response by Mark Gillard, acting as a third party on behalf of the person presumably inside the home.
A few minutes in, there’s a bit of a stand-off as the citizen who responded to the call sees the men gathered outside the person’s building. So why was an “alleged” warrant obtained for criminal activity? “Obstruction,” is the response. So it was a presumption. In other words, a criminal warrant was previously obtained for anticipated behavior that didn’t even take place yet.
It’s a long interaction but hard not to watch as it provides a live action example of a tempered, useful citizen response. He respectfully points out all the problems with their procedure – for starters, obtaining a questionable criminal warrant for a civil matter and not having notified the occupant…
Would you feel better if you had knowledgeable friends who could respond in the same way?
Description, March 20, 2015:
The normal [procedure] for obtaining a Warrant of Entry for Health and Safety, is to notify the occupier 28 days prior to the Magistrates hearing.
British Gas however FAILED to notify the occupier and obtained a warrant in a ”closed court” they then turn up with a locksmith, fail to Identify themselves and fail in carrying out any risk [assessment].
There are so many miscarriages of justice in this video, too many to list each one indvidually. Smoking in a company vehicle, police cars parked illegally, no seatbelts worn. No copy of the warrant was given to the occupier, the police were not legally trained to know what was a genuine warrant, the police failed to call a senior officer etc etc etc…
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