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Children Arrested, DNA Tested for Playing in a Tree? 957

skelator2821 wrote in with another account of a police action gone way overboard. From the article: "To the 12-year-old friends planning to build themselves a den, the cherry tree seemed an inviting source of material. But the afternoon adventure turned into a frightening ordeal for Sam Cannon, Amy Higgins and Katy Smith after they climbed into the 20ft tree - then found themselves hauled into a police station and locked into cells for up to two hours." skelator2821's basic question in all of this: "What is this World coming to? Do you think they went to far?" Well? Do you?
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Children Arrested, DNA Tested for Playing in a Tree?

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  • Only if.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mr0bvious ( 968303 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:38PM (#15829339)
    They only went too far, if the tree was less than 20ft..
    • by takeya ( 825259 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:14AM (#15831152) Journal
      This phrase has seemed to pop up in a lot of British crime articles. Can anyone from across the pond explain to me what exactly it is?

      They seem to be using it as an excuse to arrest, harass and imprison anybody for any reason, on the basis that they were doing something "anti-social."

      And what's wrong with being anti-social anyway? Some people are shy, some people have strange tastes and interests. I know I am not the epitome of a social butterfly.

      Worst we've got in America is a recent rash of police arresting people from photographing their encounters, which, given the number of police in this country, seems to be more rare than people in Britain being branded "anti social" for chewing japanese cabbage flavor gum or driving luxury cars.
  • by Polybius ( 743489 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:39PM (#15829340)
    Where else is he gonna make out with 2 chicks when his Mom is home?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:40PM (#15829343)
    We shoot our children down from the trees.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:40PM (#15829344)
    That should teach you to mess with a tree.
  • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:41PM (#15829345)
    I'm not sure. I, myself, have never been to far.
    • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:56PM (#15829409)
      Maybe the cops thought the song was,

        "Two young snipers in a tree,

      I mean, it's a common mistake.
    • I am wondering why askslashdot is being used to push agendas/post news stories, i know this isn't a new thing, but aren't there real questions to be answered? Why couldn't this story just be a normal news submission?
      • Because civil rights things like this get people more worked up and generate a helluva lot more page hits then "news for nerds". BUT, it also falls into the "stuff that matters" category. (just to show that I am not completely cynical, although it's hard not to be around here.
      • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) ( 618003 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:47AM (#15829821)

        I am wondering why askslashdot is being used to push agendas/post news stories, i know this isn't a new thing, but aren't there real questions to be answered? Why couldn't this story just be a normal news submission?

        Good question! You might submit it to askslashdot for some fine answers.

      • by Atario ( 673917 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:20AM (#15829915) Homepage
        Nerds everywhere should be deeply concerned about tree traversal [wikipedia.org] being made illegal.
      • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:14AM (#15830200) Journal
        Because science-fiction that becomes reality is News For Nerds. And when that science-fiction is 1984 it definitely is Stuff That Matters!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:41PM (#15829346)
    That's a pretty good way to introduce the kids to the way this country works - complete strangers can cause you large amounts of suffering for the smallest mistakes. That's not how the country SHOULD work, of course, but it is.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:41PM (#15829349) Homepage Journal
    These children have nothing to hide. They should not be afraid of DNA tests, or being interviewed by police.

    Besides, what if they got hurt falling out of that tree? The police are here to help.
  • by macadamia_harold ( 947445 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:42PM (#15829350) Homepage
    I mean, if a police officer can't haul three twelve-year-olds to jail on spurious charges, take mugshots, and record DNA samples, how are we ever going to win the war on terror?
  • This just in. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Who235 ( 959706 ) <`secretagentx9' `at' `cia.com'> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:43PM (#15829353)
    Cops are dicks.

    They always have been and always will be. I can count on one hand the number of run-ins I've had with cops that have been anything other than shitty - and no, I'm not a criminal.

    Of course they went too far, they often do.

    The culture of deliberate, misleading, trumped-up fear we live in today isn't helping anything either.

    Frankly, we need more stories like this so more people realize just what the hell is going on.

    • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:55PM (#15829406)
      Granted, my experience has been limited to a few traffic stops. Also, I'm white, on top of which I go to great lengths to be polite and act in a respectful way, even if I'm thinking "what the hell do you want from me?" I've found that projecting "I respect you" via my actions and demeanor usually improves my quality of life. Cops are in a position of authority, where they can antagonize you at will and usually get away with it if they don't get too bizarrely over the line.

      Feeling as I do that this power relationship brings out the uglier sides of human nature, I'm always sure to let them be the alpha male (or female) so I don't trigger any "I must prove that I'm a badass" reactions. But I'm one of the people who see the implications of the Zimbardo prison experiment in everyday situations, probably to an extent where most people would be rolling their eyes and saying "you're really reaching now."

      • by natrius ( 642724 ) <niran@@@niran...org> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:07AM (#15829709) Homepage

        Also, I'm white, on top of which I go to great lengths to be polite and act in a respectful way, even if I'm thinking "what the hell do you want from me?"

        I'm black, I do the same thing as you do, and I've had pretty much the same experience. The one time I've actually gotten a ticket, the officer thanked me for being polite to him. Not that that's the only time I've been pulled over, but the previous three or so times, I got off with just a warning. I'm not sure why exactly, but being nice can never hurt. Luckily, I don't really have to worry about traffic tickets anymore, since I drive to work on 280 [wikipedia.org]. There are no laws on 280.

        But I'm one of the people who see the implications of the Zimbardo prison experiment in everyday situations, probably to an extent where most people would be rolling their eyes and saying "you're really reaching now."

        Exactly. You take normal people and put them into a position of power, and it changes them. In my experience, treating them with respect instead of antagonizing them tends to soften the effect. I don't see why more people don't give it a shot. Plus, out of all the cops out there, how many of them are truly bad people? I don't think there are that many.

        • by RajivSLK ( 398494 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:35AM (#15829947)
          I treat everyone, friends and strangers alike, with respect until they give me a reason to do otherwise. Unfortunately, regardless of your own actions if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and look the wrong part you are occasionally disrepected by the police. Not a huge problem.

          The bigger problem is that ALL the "good" cops just look the other way. The police have perfected the prisoner's delima. They call it a "blue brotherhood" or whatever. Basically the police have figured out that if they all keep quiet then nobody will ever get in trouble.

          Granted, the trend in many places seems to be getting better. Cops no longer cover each other on blatant criminal activity (profiteering, murders etc). But it still seems to be OK to routinely abuse your power and nobody will speak up.
        • Exactly. You take normal people and put them into a position of power, and it changes them. In my experience, treating them with respect instead of antagonizing them tends to soften the effect. I don't see why more people don't give it a shot.

          Yeah, I'm sure those 12-year-olds must have gone real apeshit on those cops for them to get hauled in like they did. Shame on those little punks for not showing proper respect for the cops' authori-tah!

      • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @08:14AM (#15830849) Journal
        The perfect reply to this argument (which comes up every time someone mentions that most cops are assholes) is this: a McDonald's employee has more accountability than a cop does. As a 16 year old burger-flipper, if a customer acts like a complete asshole--even going so far as to yelling and cussing you out--you are NOT allowed to verbally abuse the customer in return in any way, shape or form. At most you can ask him/her to leave the building, that's it.

        Years ago, I worked at McDonald's for four months and a very good friend of mine was punched in the face. Through a plate glass window. A woman tried to order at the pickup window, was told she needed to drive around again, so she punched through the drive-through window, hitting my friend in the face. If she (my friend) had hit her back, there's not a doubt in my mind that she would have lost her job. Instead, she walked away calmly and called her supervisor and the police.

        Now, I'm not implying that the police shouldn't use force when necessary. I'm also not denying that they're human too, that it's a nasty, dirty job and I'm sure it's really rough on them. But you know what? Working at McDonald's is in many was rougher (if you doubt this, I could tell you some more horror stories... absolutely the worst 4 months of my life, period.), and yet their workers are held to a much higher standard than the police. Why is that? Why do so many of us make allowances for the police to exercise HUGE leaps of personal discretion, to bend the law whenever it suits them? It's a tough job, but they chose it and we shouldn't let them bend the rules (or ignore them) whenever they feel like it. I saw a TON of asshole customers at McDonalds, yet I didn't say a foul word to any of them. I didn't spit in their food either (no one did--they would've been fired on the spot.) I did my job as professionally as I could, regardless of how shitty I was treated.

        And I was a fucking fry cook!

        Please please please please PLEASE tell me we can hold our police officers up to the same standards as our burger flippers.
    • Re:This just in. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:50AM (#15829642)
      Know your rights and when to exercise them.

      Cops are human beings, and unless you're living in an area that disables them from being a human being, you needn't be an ass all the time. Imagine being spit on, insulted, and assualted every day, all hours of the day, by drunks, drugheads, and assholes who try to make trouble. Eventually, you stop blinking, and stop being nice.

      Sure, some places have corrupt cops and a corrupt justice system that does not work. I'll agree that our justice system is infact broken, all the way around, and that that the entire government is illegal at a fundemental level and I'v got books and documents that proove as much. But not every area requires the same amount of crap to be taken nor given.

      I had a cop approach me today, said someone called 911 from my home. I know this is BS; nobody's home at all, cept for me and I'm heading out. She asked me to check; I checked, and explained where everyone was and that everyone was accounted for. She asked to take a quick look inside; I allowed her to, and she was in and out within a few seconds and I watched her every second. I was polite, curtious, and overbearingly nice and I made her feel like crap afterwards and even said "have a nice day, hope you find who called". The point? I COULD have said "Mam, I do not consent to any searches of my property" and we could've gone from there depending on what she would've wanted to do. But when the cops are nice, and courteous, and trying to do their job, if you're nice to them, they will be nice to you.

      And I'm sure she could've been an ass about it too, but her business there was to check the 911 call.

      I had a cop come to me with a complaint from some neighbors over a car in my driveway that was newspapered and being painted; I was waiting for a cool, dry day to do the painting on. The realestate agent down the block didn't like it, and filed a complaint stating the car was a junk car and was undrivable. I was as nice as I could be to that cop, and know what he did for me? Told me exactly how to comply with the law and gave me a week before he stickered it; IE, make sure it was lisenced plated, stickered, and was drivable. So all I had to do was rip off the paper, put the plate on, and drive it to a different spot in the driveway and he said "ok, you're good". All the car had on it was primer, and all of the trim had tape on it so it didn't look great. He didn't sticker it at all, said it was in compliance, and went back to the station. He wasn't exactly 100% nice about it and was I'll admit, somewhat condescending, but he was civil and gave me the benefit of the doubt.

      And I'm sure the real-estate agent is still quite pissed.

      Otherwise, you exercise your rights when you need to. If the cop gives you attitude and talks of using excessive force, know your rights, how to state them, and be civil about it. If a cop decides he doesn't want to trust you as a human being, or treat you as one, by all means exercise every right you have. "I do not consent to any searches sir", and "Sir, can we keep this civil?" or my favorite, "Are you detaining me or can I go about my business" and if they answer yes, you ask "on what grounds?". Later, this can be used in court to put the sucker behind bars or de-badge them. Some cops flambast you with a shit-hose like you wouldn't believe and they do it to intimidate; don't be intimdated. Others will cuff you, put you on the ground, and tell you to sit there, and unless you're living in an area where the judicial system is corrupt to the core, you're good to go to get that cop put into jail for assualt.

      And if you're going to do something risky, be nice and make sure your ass is covered. Going to smoke pot? Have a way to cover the smell and dispose of the evidence quickly and smoke it in such a fashon nobody will know. Going to modify a gun to make it full auto? Keep the gun stashed in a spot where it'd take considerable time and effort to find them. I'v even had cops say "wow, that's illegal. You going to get rid of it for me so I don't have to report it?" because I was nice.
      • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @07:00AM (#15830601) Homepage

        I had a cop approach me today, said someone called 911 from my home. I know this is BS; nobody's home at all, cept for me and I'm heading out.

        So they showed up with a bs story about getting a 911 call and you granted them a search on that? I'm all for being polite and cooperative but I'm not going to reward them for giving me a bullshit story. I would have asked for the dispatch non-emergency number and called them right on the spot. Helpful and polite, yes, but I'm not giving them permission to enter.

      • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:10PM (#15832691)
        I COULD have said "Mam, I do not consent to any searches of my property" and we could've gone from there depending on what she would've wanted to do.

        And perhaps that's what you SHOULD have done. It's a judgment call, to be sure, but once you let the officer into your home, anything he or she sees in there can be used against you. A cop can go from Nice to Mean in seconds.

        Don't confuse "being polite to cops" with "waiving your rights".
    • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:51AM (#15829830) Homepage
      Not all cops are dicks, but:
      1. Cops have power
      2. We need lots of cops (compared to, for example, Supreme Court judges)
      3. It's not that difficult to become a cop if you want to
      4. Cops don't get huge salaries
      5. Being a cop is demanding work, but there exists a great opportunity to get away with being lazy.

      The result is that people who crave power and who couldn't get better jobs are attracted to policework, and get it. Once they do, they get lazy and start pulling off crap like this.

      Ideally, cops would all have law degrees (without lowering current standards) and get paid like lawyers do, but the public is too cheap to pay for that, so instead we pay a lot less and bitch about the resulting quality of service.

    • Re:This just in. . . (Score:4, Interesting)

      by awol ( 98751 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:51AM (#15829984) Journal
      Imagine the worst thing you will see in your entire life... Police deal with that and probably worse many times every single day of their working lives. I do not believe that it is possible to remain "the same" as those of us that are spared from dealing with that crap. The "thin blue line" or "The Job" [as in work not as in "Bible book of"] mentality is pretty much a coping mechanism, much like surgeons or trauma ward professionals. One becomes detached and can lose the "reflex" towards civility/normality that most of the rest of us take for granted.

      Other posters have made the point, start civil and know your actual rights (not your TV rights). It will make the interaction more likely go very smoothly. As for the problematic police, the sooner they are found out by their overreaction to civil and respectful citizens the better the force becomes.
  • anyone else... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dance_Dance_Karnov ( 793804 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:43PM (#15829354) Homepage
    disturbed by the "anti-social behavoir" remarks? Or is it just me?
    • Re:anyone else... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fossa ( 212602 ) <pat7.gmx@net> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:51PM (#15829389) Journal

      I think complaining to the police about children playing in a tree should be considered "anti-social"...

      • Holy Cow! (Score:4, Informative)

        by D.A. Zollinger ( 549301 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:35AM (#15830407) Homepage Journal
        That whole law is utterly rubbish! The Law;
        * dictates child rearing and punishment,
        * allows police to disperse groups of any TWO people at will,
        * bans immitation weapons,
        * allows city councils to label any publicly displayed painting or artwork as "graffiti" and order the land owner to remove it at their cost (even if they weren't the ones to create it),
        * if you have 20 or more people on your property, or in your house, police can label it a rave, and incarcerate everyone at said "rave,"
        * allows city councils to set a hight limit on plants so as to not block the light onto your neighbor's property, and charge a fee to perform the maintainance if the owner is not willing to cut their plants down to size,
        * Strengthens ASBOs which basically criminalizes behavior that is otherwise lawful.

        If the United States were to pass such a law, I would call the USA a lost cause, and move to Mexico.
  • Way too far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:44PM (#15829357)
    12 year olds....DNA samples (and stored for X years) taken without parental or legal approval? Insane.

    Is the law in Britain to take (and store) DNA samples when you are simply arrested? Convicted, yes, I can see....but just arrested? Insane.
    (this does not even go into the complete foolishness of arresting them for what they actually did).
    • Re:Way too far (Score:3, Informative)

      Is the law in Britain to take (and store) DNA samples when you are simply arrested? Convicted, yes, I can see....but just arrested?

      worse.... the DNA recording is no longer limited to "serious arrestable offences", you can have your DNA taken for what they define as a "recordable offence" which means they needn't even arrest you... they will take the sample out there in the street while giving you a caution or writing up your ticket for dropping litter... if you object, they'll arrest you... simple innit...

  • Anti-Social? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aeiri ( 713218 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:44PM (#15829363)
    Superintendent Stuart Johnson, operations manager at Halesowen police station, said: 'I support the actions of my officers who responded to complaints from the public about "kids destroying" an ornamental cherry tree by stripping every branch from it, in an area where there have been reports of anti-social behaviour.

    Since when was being anti-social a crime?
    • Re:Anti-Social? (Score:3, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 )
      Since when was being anti-social a crime?

      Since there were "restraining orders" in the US, and ASBO's in the UK.
      "you were an asshat....don't do it again, or you WILL go to jail"
      • Re:Anti-Social? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Aeiri ( 713218 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:51PM (#15829387)

        Maybe we are thinking of different concepts... but "anti-social" to me means not agreeing with the concept of being social, which usually entails me sitting on my couch not speaking to another human being.
        • Welcome to UK law. Go read up on it. "Anti social" behavior is a criminal offense. But be aware that your definition of "anti social" (say, gloomy or impolite) may not be the same as that in the UK / UK law (say, offensive or obscene or psychotic). Read the links provided in other comments in this branch and do some googling ...
    • Re:Anti-Social? (Score:3, Informative)

      Since when was being anti-social a crime?

      In the UK being anti-social isn't itself a crime.

      But if you are anti-social, they get to make up special laws, just for you.

      They are called 'Anti-Social Behavior Orders' or ASBOs.

      And then they can make just about anything a crime. For you.

      Sooner or later someone will get one like:

      "Must not raise right hand above waist height in a public place or where likely to be viewed from a public place".
    • by tetromino ( 807969 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:41AM (#15829608)
      Thank you, Tony Blair [wikipedia.org]. Having created a crime-free paradise (by American standards), the British government has proceeded to outlaw merely unpleasant behaviour.
    • Re:Anti-Social? (Score:3, Informative)

      For a long time. While there are plenty of examples of police (at the instigation of neighbours, mind you) taking it too far, there really is a big problem in the UK with kids, both in gangs and individually, going on the rampage. Cars and property being damaged, people assaulted, shops robbed, loud noise, intimidation, drugs...it's widespread if not quite the reign of terror some of the tabloids make it out to be.

      That's countered by, among other things, ASBOs - Antisocial Behaviour Orders - which enforce t
  • So in the UK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mingot ( 665080 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:45PM (#15829366)
    So in the UK they put kids into the same holding areas as adults and can gather DNA from them without some sort of court order or parental consent? And the criminal records of children can actually be queried by schools?

    Not flamebait, not an attack on the UK, but serious questions.
    • Re:So in the UK (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrMickS ( 568778 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:35AM (#15829580) Homepage Journal
      Yup. We are rapidly approaching George Orwell's vision over here. We have more CCTV cameras than anywhere else. We are implementing systems that the police will be able to use to track all vehicle movements around the country, records kept for five years, regardless of whether any crime was committed by the driver. There are moves to gather biometric data from all of the population and hold it on file. "If you don't do anything wrong what have you got to hide?".

      One current scheme is to setup fingerprint access to schools, this is funded by the DfE (Department for Education) and comes from a special budget. The DfE are reluctant to discuss what is done with the data and how long it will be kept. However, given the present administrations desire to collect biometric data and centralise it, its not too big a step to believe that this too will be centralised. It would mean that the government would have biometrics on the population from when it enters the state education system. Initially this will be fingerprint only but once that has been proven possible to defeat other data will be stored, DNA etc.

      There is an argument that all of this will help the authorities prosecute offenders. It smacks too much of a police state for me. This action by the police is merely following the trend that has been established. The police can do no wrong at the moment.

  • by 77Punker ( 673758 ) <spencr04@high p o int.edu> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:48PM (#15829380)
    Now at least these three kids and all of their friends will realize firsthand what sort of world they're coming into rather than having to wait until they're all grown up to figure it out like most people do (if they ever do). The people who start the action that fixes these sort of problems are often the same people who have suffered because of them.
    • I just hope that their parents reinforce this in the right way. "Yes, dear, the police shouldn't have done that. Sometimes the people in charge do bad things." and not "Well, sorry, dear, I guess you need to be more careful out there. These are uncertain times, and it's best just to go with the flow."
  • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:50PM (#15829384)
    Superintendent Stuart Johnson, operations manager at Halesowen police station, said: 'I support the actions of my officers who responded to complaints from the public about "kids destroying" an ornamental cherry tree by stripping every branch from it, in an area where there have been reports of anti-social behaviour.
    Wait ... how is arresting 12-year-olds for playing in a tree NOT anti-social behaviour? It's a fucking tree. Sounds to me like the Superintendent and the arresting officers need to be put through a series of behavioural modification treatments by trained professionals (read: severe canings by trained Dominus'/Dominatrix').
  • by ucsckevin ( 176383 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:52PM (#15829393) Homepage
    So, seriously, can someone explain to me what the eff "Anti-social behaviour" in a legal context means? Sounds to me like I'd be arrested in heartbeat there! While this and other "zero-tolerance" policies seem so offensive to us, just think about what our grandchildren will say. They'll be so accustomed to this type of law enforcement it won't phase them at all. "What do you expect, grandpa, they were climbing a tree for godsake! Somebody had to do something!"
  • by theRhinoceros ( 201323 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:54PM (#15829401)
    In the criminal justice system, arboreal trespassing offenses are considered especially heinous. In the West Midlands, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Halesowen police. These are their stories.
  • by NosTROLLdamus ( 979044 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @11:58PM (#15829414) Journal
    How about if the fucking people who saw them climbing the tree talked to them instead of calling the fucking police?

    Oh, no! Three twelve year olds having fun! I better call the fucking cops!

    The people who called in are probably chatting with those kids' parents right now about how the police over-reacted.

    • How about if the fucking people who saw them climbing the tree talked to them instead of calling the fucking police?

      Because the parents of said kids will then instigate a suit against the 'fucking people' for harassing thier kids.

      Calling the cops is one thing ("Hey...there's some kids screwing up this tree!").....what the cops (and the legal system) then do is quite another.
    • Good point, but.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:02AM (#15829862)
      You raise an interesting point: are the police responding this strongly -- too strongly -- because no one else will?

      Today I was riding my bike home from work when I passed a car stopped by the side of a busy road, next to a small park with a bike path. The passenger's side door was open, and a girl about age 10 was standing by it crying. I stopped to watch, surprised. The girl was talking to someone in the car, and she would half get in the car, then step back, then repeat, crying all the time.

      What do you think was going on? Doesn't look good, does it? Doesn't that make it remarkable that, as I approached on my bike, and while I was stopped, about three or four other people walked, jogged or rode on bikes past, and of course about two dozen cars drove by -- and no one else stopped? It was also in clear view of some new condos across the street that sell for upwards of $500,000 -- but no one came out of them.

      I went up to the girl, and, staying well back (to help the girl feel safe), I looked more closely. In the car was a woman with another child. I asked the child her name, whether the woman was her mother, and whether she wanted to get in the car. She told me her name, said it was her mother, and that she did want to get in the car. The woman said it was her child, and that the girl wanted to get in the car, but wasn't being allowed to because she was in a "time out." I assume the woman was driving when she stopped and put the child out of the car at the side of the road as some kind of punishment. The girl would then be crying because she feared she was about to be abandoned.

      After thinking it all through for a bit, I believed the woman. The girl and the woman and the other child in the car looked alike (all blonde wavy hair, similar face, and so on), and when I talked to the little girl she drew away from me and closer to the woman -- that is, she seemed instinctively to trust the woman more than me. The woman's story seemed unlikely for an abductor -- silly, unrehearsed, unlikely to soothe suspicion. So I didn't call the cops. (I did suggest to the woman that, as one parent to another, my advice would be to avoid disciplining her 10-year-old by pretending to abandon her on the side of the road. I said this rather less forcefully than I would have if her children had not been in earshot. For example, I did not call her a fscking idiot who should have been sterilized at menarche.)

      I'm still bothered by whether I did the right thing, although the girl climbed in the car after I talked to her seemingly willingly enough, and the car drove off not in any obvious hurry. I hope I wasn't too trusting.

      But my point is that it was very noticeable to me that no one else wanted to get involved. Dozens of other adults passed close by and saw what I did -- no one else stopped to take a closer look, make sure the girl was OK.

      Perhaps we have come to delegate some of what used to be our normal social responsibility to our fellow man to the police. Small wonder that these things happen, then, although I wish they wouldn't.
  • Unbelievable (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frag-A-Muffin ( 5490 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:00AM (#15829425) Homepage
    FTFA (bolded text was done by me):

    Questioned by police, the scared friends admitted they had broken some loose branches because they had wanted to build a tree house, but said they did not realise what they had done was wrong.

    Officers considered charging the children with criminal damage but eventually decided a reprimand - the equivalent of a caution for juveniles - was sufficient.

    I can think of many [epa.gov] other [anarac.com] people [bikertony.com] to be arresting for criminal damage.

    What the heck is this world coming to? Kids playing in a tree, break a few branches and get arrested (and DNA tested!? WTF?). Meanwhile, corporations are allowed to get away with this garbage. Yeah, there's nothing wrong with world ... civilized my ass.

  • Lucky kids (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sedmonds ( 94908 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:00AM (#15829426) Homepage
    This is the same country where police executed an unarmed and immobilized man for wearing a winter coat on the subway. These kids should count their blessings.
  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:14AM (#15829486) Homepage
    Where I live, some kids were charged with "terroristic activities" [guampdn.com] after they used baking soda to create "bombs" out of plastic bottles. As a result, the school system is now mandating that students use clear plastic backpacks at all times next year. Sure, everybody will know when little Suzie's on the rag now, but we all know kids will treat such subjects with maturity, and it's all worth it if we can save even one plastic bottle.

    Granted, such activity should not be tolerated in school, but when I was a kid we called them pranks, not terrorist plots.
  • by jpetts ( 208163 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:41AM (#15829607)
    While it was not (yet) as bad as The Sun when I left the UK in 2002, the Daily Mail was a strident, hysterical, sensationalist muckracking journal well on its way to parity. I would believe maybe 15-20% of what is reported here as "fact". The paper also carries a political/social agenda on just about everything, and I suspect very strongly that we are seeing an extremely distorted story that is being "economical with the truth".

    So, if -- and that's a VERY big if -- everything reported is true I deplore it, but I have serious doubts as to whether the story is at all objective.

    If the Mail was looking for a reaction, I'm sure it got what it was after.

    It's interesting that Google News and Google proper only carry two reports of this, and there is no mention on the BBC web site (as of 21.38 PDT).

    This has all the hallmarks of a carefully manufactured and groomed story deisgned to garner publicty and web page impressions.
  • by Riktov ( 632 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:04AM (#15829701) Journal
    -OSCON just wrapped up. What do you think of it?
    -Just in general, not specifically related to the treehouse story, are cops fascist thugs sometimes?
    -Bill Gates has a bazillion dollars. Isn't that too much?
    -Does this dress make me look fat?
  • by whitehatlurker ( 867714 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:27AM (#15829761) Journal
    150 quid for littering [bbc.co.uk], kids ordered to clean up hop scotch grid [expressandstar.com]. This place is definitely one of the must see places in the UK. Unless you're from a civilised country.
  • by MikeHunt69 ( 695265 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @03:10AM (#15830020) Journal
    I live in Australia now, but I'm writing this from the perspective of living the last 5 or so years in the UK (east london in particular).

    Police in the UK in the last few years have had pressure to crack down on young 'hooligans' roaming the streets at night causing damage. I don't think that these kids were doing anything wrong, but there were plenty of 12 year olds I saw in my time in the UK that should have definately been reprimanded for their actions, if not locked up.

    Some examples.. My mother came over to visit me and on the first evening she was in London she had an (uneaten) apple thrown at her while walking from the station to my house, hitting her in the chest. This was delibrately thrown from across the street from one of a group of around 15 10-15 year olds.

    When cycling home one day, a couple of kids on a scooter travelling in the opposite direction suddenly stopped. The kid on the back threw an egg, which hit me in the shoulder. I was going around 17-18mph at the time and it didn't tickle. My friend had the same thing happen a few years earlier, except it was thrown from a moving car in north london. It hit him in the eye and he has lost partial sight in one eye.

    I couldn't park a car on the street for more than a couple of weeks, or it would get broken in to. I'm fairly sure it was kids, since the car was never driven away, just the window smashed or the lock broken.

    When walking home through a small park, another one of my friends was struck on the back of the head by a full 2L PET drink bottle. The kid still had the bottle in his hand and when my friend turned around, there were 5-6 or so kids ready to "go at it". My friend just walked away.

    One or two 12 year olds are nothing to worry about. But 10-15 little bastards, some with kitchen knives or metal pipes or whatever have the capability to kill 2-3 adults. And get away with it! because they know nothing will happen to them because they are kids. They know all their rights and none of their responsabilities.

    It's situations like this that ABSO's were created, which is why I'm all for them.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:01AM (#15830166)
    Of course the British police are worried.

    It starts off with just cutting down one cherry tree as a kid. Then - I shall not tell a lie - it can lead to organising the overthrow of the British rulers in a revloution lasting years, assisted by the (gasp) French and the establishment of another country where people even drive on the other side of the road out of spite.

  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:26AM (#15830233)
    I lived in a small town back east for a time, and I spent alot of time climbing trees. In these small towns there is "always" that one person who's purpose in life is to make everyone else's life miserable. One day the building inspector arivies... in regards to my treehouse. It seems even in small towns in order to build a treehouse you need a building permit. Extreme but fair enough. But the thing is, there was no tree house, there was no building or construction on ANY level. It was a cushion in a tree. It didn't even stay in the tree, it wasn't tied down. And the electrical inspector arived as well, which in "all" fairness I did own a radio but used batteries, so I *imagine* someone "could" have thought I was using house current. And then the fire department, the fire department arived, two trucks full sirens... I have NO idea why, by this point building and electrical went off to discuss the matter with the fire department. A police car drive by but didn't stop. While they wouldn't "say" who issued the complaint, it was rather clear who did as all three took a visit to that house down the street and gave someone a firm talking to about issuing false complaints. No treehouse, no electricity, no fire.

    This being said, there will "always" be some bozo who complains. Perhaps the reason is justified, perhaps they are totally off their rocker. In this case, perhaps the kids needed a firm talking at worst, a friendly talking to at best. I lack any clear information at to the ownership of this tree.

  • by CharonX ( 522492 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @08:01AM (#15830782) Journal
    Oh well, there was that guy who was arrested for taking pictures (using his phone-camera) of Cops arresting a drugdealer. Charges: Obstruction of justice (eh?) and trespassing (he was on his own doorstep), and yeah, there are witnesses that can confirm both. Then we have that nice she-cop that decided to arrest two lost young women that asked another cop for directions (after only recieving rudeness as an answer from her) on charges of trespassing... on a public road. And now we have a cop who arrest 12 year old kinds for climbing up a tree and breaking off a couple of small branches. Yeah, somebody should have told them that doing that in a public park is not OK, but arresting them, DNAing them? Next time they go for exitement they better start shoplifting, that has less severer "first offense" outcomes. God bless America (and Great Britan) - they are on the best way to become a police state, wherer "to serve and protect" means "... the goverment and our own whims".
  • by XJHardware ( 809439 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @08:24AM (#15830888)
    Unbeknownst to these children we've secretly switched their country with new freeze-dried Third Reich. Let's watch and see their reaction.

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