Following a debate that ran into the early hours of this morning, the Isle of Wight Council has narrowly voted in favour of granting all residents of the Island diplomatic immunity. The surprise move comes after a recent report by the Association of Chief Police Officers indicated that up to 12,000 police officers are to lose their jobs. Many of these redundancies are likely to affect the Isle of Wight.
In a bid to ensure that the reduced police force on the island can cope with their obligations, the council will, from 1st April 2011, bestow the status of diplomatic immunity on all residents currently registered on the electoral roll.
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity that ensures persons are not considered susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws. Effectively the move by the council will allow most residents to commit any crime from 1st April and the police will not arrest the wrong-doers, leaving the force free to carry out other duties such as directing traffic during the island's annual Light-Bulb-Appreciation Gala.
Tony Shuttlecock, the Islands Chief of Police who attended the debate, has welcomed the move. "What I had to impress upon the council is that in the face of such a reduction in police numbers we will no longer be in a position to make many arrests. Indeed, we can no longer afford police uniforms so it would not be clear if the person attempting an arrest was an officer or a member of the public. The chaos this would cause was made clear to the council and the only solution available to us was to make crime legal, for all practical purposes."
However, some members of the council felt that the proposal was being rushed through without proper consideration. Gillian Berry-Berry, a Labour councillor, highlighted her concerns this morning. "In principle," she said, "I agree with the move. Nevertheless to grant just those on the electoral-roll with the status is not all-encompassing. Children, for example, are not generally listed on the electoral-roll. Couple this with the fact that the some in the police force are still in favour of making arrests and the obvious conclusion is that the island's children will be detained for any misdemeanour regardless of guilt. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. My own son, who is one year old, has just been questioned on suspicion of insurance fraud."
Though the move is likely to go ahead, there may be legal intervention by the EU who said in a statement that "diplomatic immunity should be for diplomats, their wives, children, pets and tailors". Under EU law, anyone granted with diplomatic immunity is compelled, legally, to commit crime as often as possible so as not to be seen to be abusing the status bestowed upon them. Accordingly the residents of the Island will have to commit more crime which, legally, will not have occurred except for the purposes of ensuring that the populace are committing those crimes. Any person who is not committing any crime will be breaking the law - however the status of diplomatic immunity will mean that such people will be released as soon as they are arrested and the arresting officer will be arrested for false imprisonment and then immediately released.