One of my old air force buddies sent me this little gem, highlighting not just the importance of getting the elements of an offence right, but also the geographical jurisdiction.
Dopey policeman tries to arrest shopkeeper in Wales under Australian law
Police chiefs in South Wales were forced to apologise after an over-zealous policeman threatened to arrest a shop owner for selling bongs, mistakenly quoting Australian law to claim that the sale of the smoking pipes was illegal.
The as yet unnamed policemen spotted the bongs for sale in the Savers Xtra store in Bargoed, near Caerphilly in South Wales. Perhaps excited by the potential criminal activity going on in the small Welsh town, the policeman rushed back to the office to (possibly) Google “bongs” and “South Wales law”. Armed with a printout of an act stating that the sale of bongs was illegal, the policeman returned to Savers Xtra to warn the shopkeeper to stop selling the smoking pipes or to face arrest.
Sadly for the conscientious cop he had mistaken New South Wales (where selling bongs is illegal) for South Wales (where shops can sell as many bongs as they wish).
Humiliatingly for the policeman a supplier to the store was rather more on the ball and pointed out the mistake. Gwent police have now apologised to the shopkeeper and the bong smokers of Bargoed can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
A police spokesman said “The officer in question was acting in good faith but on this occasion we got it wrong”.
The story crops up in a few other sources, including The Telegraph, so seems it’s probably true rather than apocryphal.
Perhaps the PC was just having a bad day…