Can a private individual collect his own 'fines' (or demand compensation) if he has evidence of wrongdoing, or does he have to pass that evidence to the authorities?
Scenario 1 - Lets say I own a small shop and I have clear, irrefutable video evidence of someone shoplifting. Lets pretend I know the shoplifter and I say to him 'pay me for the item, and pay me compensation or I give the video to the police' Maybe the shoplifter is just a 'good kid making a mistake' in which case he (or his parents) might welcome the chance to settle the matter privately without a police record to sully his character. Alternatively the shoplifter might be an incorrigible crook who knows he'll only get a slap on wrist and another line added to the bottom of a long criminal record.
On the one hand this is just a shopkeeper looking for just compensation, but on the other hand could this be seen as blackmail or demanding money with menaces?
Scenario 2 - Lets say I live in house next to a busy road with a 30mph speed limit. Let's pretend I'm kept awake all night by drivers speeding past at 60mph. I decide to install a speed camera (for the sake argument, lets assume it's the same type used by the police, professionally calibrated and installed on my own land). What would the legal position be if I wrote to the speeding drivers saying "compensate me for keeping me awake, or I pass my evidence of your offence to the police"
On the one hand these scenarios could be seen as a victim demanding compensation - but on the other hand it might be seen as blackmail, "give me money, or I give my evidence to the police". In both cases there is legitimate evidence of an offence, and in both cases the other person has a simple take-it-or-leave it choice. For many drivers a modest demand for private compensation might be preferable to points/large fine/banning/increased insurance costs etc etc.
How would the law look on these situations?
- honest victim legitimately asking for compensation? or
- smart crook blackmailing other crooks?