High Court Judge Paul Davidson has declared that the police practise of issuing formal warnings (20,000 over the last decade) are illegal. He is wrong.
The fact that no law covers this doesn’t make it illegal. It’s a practise driven by pragmaticism.
The vast bulk of human activities are not covered by law. Having an egg for breakfast is not specifically covered as a legal activity but doing so does not constitute a crime.
Police formal warnings apply to minor infringements that are illegal but have caused no harm and don’t warrant the trouble of pursuing, so long as the offender now desists.
That can be raucous public behaviour, exceeding the speed limit, and a vast number of public nuisance type behaviour.
Where the Judge had a point was condemning the Police maintaining a record of such warnings which can have on-going detrimental effects on people, such as with employment. But he’s still wrong, so long as the details of the warning offence and the dates of them are also recorded.
The last thing we want to see is our already over-burdened police force pursuing through the courts, what are no more than petty offences.
If Justice Davidson’s declaration is to prevail we will have either that situation or worse, specifically the Police turning a blind eye to offences that have the potential to get out of hand.
The Judge also asserted the practise is akin to a conviction without trial. That is nonsense as no conviction is being pursued, which is the very point of formal warnings.
But obviously if someone objected to receiving a formal warning they’re free to pursue it through the courts.
The Police should appeal this silly declaration for everyone’s sake.