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Guilty until proven innocent? You must be on benefit…

Posted Feb 13 2010 12:00am

I found the following gem in my search-engine slush pile this morning –  “people on DLA who shouldn’t be”.

This pisses me off in so many ways. First of all, most people have no idea who’s getting DLA and who isn’t, and even if they do know, they are unlikely to be so privy to the minutiae of a person’s life that they know for sure whether or not they are disabled. Not all disability is visible.

Most people tend to judge purely by appearances, which is massively stupid – you simply can’t do that. For example, I look perfectly well most of the time, but I’m not. For a variety of reasons (if you really want to know, read the About page), everything I do hurts, usually severely – even lying in bed is painful, as is typing this. You can’t tell that from my appearance (other than, at times, I do look pissed off – you would, too). Or anybody else’s appearance, for that matter – you simply can’t see pain. You can only experience it.

Also, just like anyone else with severe COPD, an opportunistic infection could take me off tomorrow, or next week. Or in 10 year’s time – there is simply no way of knowing. You can’t tell that from my appearance either.

I do wish, though, that you self-righteous arse-holes could get to experience what it’s like to be me (or any other disabled person), for a while.

So, you may know someone who is getting DLA, but unless you’re related to them, or they’ve actually told you (which would be pretty bloody stupid), how can you possibly know they’re not entitled to it? You can’t. Most people simply object to others getting benefits like DLA because they’re not getting it – instead of giving thanks for the fact that they don’t actually need it.

And as you may have noticed, the government’s latest wizard wheeze is to financially reward people for shopping “benefit cheats” – I can just see the sort of person who types that enquiry into Google counting their ill-gotten gains already.

Think on this, though. For any crime, even the most heinous, you have the right to face and challenge your accuser(s) in court, and the prosecution has to prove your guilt. For years now, though, people have been able to anonymously report anybody for crimes they may not have committed – benefit fraud – without having to provide the slightest proof. Nor does the accused get to face their accuser. Instead, they have to prove their own innocence.

And they don’t always get their day in court, either – the DWP stormtroopers have the right to massively invade every aspect of their lives, even to rummaging through their bank accounts (and if you though that was private, think again), without so much as a by-your-leave. It’s only the occasional guilty person who winds up in court, in the full glare of publicity. All those thousands who have had their lives hugely disrupted for no good reason are never heard from, or about.

Welcome to Britain 2010 – Stalin would be proud.

If you are claiming disability benefits, you might want to take a look at the Social Security Fraud Act, 2001 – you can find it here. It’s pretty tedious reading, but do persevere, because if you think you have the same rights accorded the fit and the well, the employed and the two-parent families, then you’re in for a shock.

Suspected terrorists probably have more human rights than do the chronically sick and disabled, the one-parent families, and the unemployed.

In no crime other than (alleged) benefit fraud is there an automatic assumption of guilt, not even if you’re caught standing over a corpse with a smoking gun in your hand. Especially if you actually are guilty, but opt for the “some other guy did it” defence.

There may be no evidence to support your defence, and truckloads in support of your guilt, but here’s the thing – you are still entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty at trial. The reverse of what happens if you’re accused of benefit fraud.

And now this fuckwit government wants to provide financial incentives to enable even more scurrilous retards to maliciously shop anyone on benefit that they take a dislike to (you should see some of the comments on this blog), without actually having to provide the slightest evidence. And to do so from the cowardly shelter of anonymity is not only pathetic, it’s entirely improper.

Anyone accusing someone of benefit fraud (the whole concept of the “shop a benefit cheat anonymously” system is irredeemably flawed), should only be able to do so if, as for any other crime, there’s actually some evidence that a crime has been committed. As things stand – and I see no prospect of change, not with this government or the next – if you’re claiming benefits, as far as the law is concerned it’s open season, and you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.

And actually being innocent isn’t the shoo-in you might reasonably expect it to be.

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