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Three men to be prosecuted for taking food from a dustbin behind Iceland

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The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that it is in the public interest to prosecute three men for helping themselves to discarded food from the dustbins behind an Iceland branch.

Paul May, 35 was arrested with Jason Chan and William James on the 25 October after police received reports of three men climbing over a wall at the back of the supermarket. Their ‘haul’ comprised of some mushrooms, some cheese, some tomatoes and some Mr Kipling cakes. Police allege that the value of the goods amounted to £33, except for the fact that they had been thrown away and consequently had no value whatsoever to Iceland. The supermarket chain have released a statement saying that they knew nothing of the arrests and are scrambling to find out what happened and why the CPS is pushing ahead with prosecutions

The men spent 19 hours in the cells before being charged under the Vagrancy Act of 1824 for being in "an enclosed area, namely Iceland, for an unlawful purpose, namely stealing food".

How one ‘steals’ from a dustbin is a point that will need clarifying during the trial

The fact that the CPS has actually decided to prosecute the men brings together several wider threads. As swingeing benefit cuts force people into penury and increasingly desperate measures, corporate profits continue to swell. The wastage of food on an industrial scale by supermarkets and the retail food supply chain has been rightly seen as scandalous, but supermarkets are unwilling to distribute their waste products to the homeless or the less fortunate in case the idea catches on.

Add into that the deep cuts being made to legal aid while the CPS wastes time and money on this Kafkaesque nonsense and we have a test case that perfectly encapsulates the injustice rife in Britain today.

Lawyers for the three men have asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider dropping the case, but the CPS has announced that it would push ahead, because "we feel there is significant public interest in prosecuting these three individuals".

With the legal power of the state being used to crush the desperate, one can only hope that this case garners as much publicity as possible and helps spark a genuine debate on starvation, food waste, food banks, corporate responsibility, the effect of benefit cuts at the coal face and the role of a public prosecutor.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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