A woman was handcuffed and 'treated like a hardened criminal' after she helped herself to food worth £200 that had been thrown away by a Tesco store following a power cut.Now, I realise the details are sketchy, that Tesco still technically owned the food and that the police had no choice but to act if the business complained. But ... I'm pretty sure that Tesco would have almost certainly been unable to sell the stuff, and that their concern was not so much one of theft as the fear of prosecution under environmental health regulations or litigation should someone become ill.
But she was stunned when police arrived at her home and arrested her for suspected 'theft by finding' and took her to the station in handcuffs.
So what we have here is a business throwing out useless stock, and the consequences of state legislation forcing them to refuse its consumption by someone who was quite willing to take their chances. Rules is rules and government knows best yadda, yadda, yadda. The result of course being a right old mess and piss poor PR for the state's enforcers.
While reading the article though, I was minded of the Irish anthem The Fields of Athenry.
For you stole Trevelyan's cornThe Trevelyan referred to being quite a nasty piece of work whose main contribution to the Irish famine was to make it a lot worse including - relevantly for this story - denying starved 19th century Irish the relief of commodities which were only going to be ditched anyway.
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay
The song tells the story of Lord Trevelyan who brought a supply of corn back from America in a bid to battle starvation during the potato famine in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately it was Indian corn too hard to be milled, so useless. However, local people thought it would save them and so broke into the stores, were arrested, and subsequently deported to Australia.Trevelyan's memory to this day is still reviled in Ireland, and his immortalisation in song has continued to whip up anti-English sentiment for four decades or so. Likewise, the reputation of Essex Police isn't exactly going to be enhanced in light of such a case, is it?
Especially since Sasha Hall, the woman arrested in this instance, was merely doing exactly as we were ordered to do by politicians recently.
On the bright side, there are now just a few more people who may be waking up to the fact that big government is hypocritical, doesn't do things very well and - for our own good - often makes life stupidly more difficult.
The more, the merrier.