Monday, 4 April 2011

Could you lie to the police? : by Miriam Halahmy

 Could you lie to the police?

This is the question that my new novel, HIDDEN, ( Meadowside Fiction, 2011) throws up for readers.

 HIDDEN is about two teenagers who find an illegal immigrant washed up on the beach and hide him to save him from being deported.
 Our hero, Alix, a fourteen year old girl, has never done anything remotely criminal before and comes from a very law-abiding home. But once she has committed herself to helping the immigrant because she believes he has a right to prove himself to the authorities, nothing will stop her seeking justice. Even if that means lying to the police. But she is wracked with guilt and terrified.

That’s it then, I think with a shiver, I’ve lied to the police. I bury my face in Trudy’s neck and wait for the handcuffs to descend.

On a recent school visit I asked all the classes I spoke to if they would ever lie to the police. They were silent at first and so I said,
“Well I wasn’t brought up like that and I’m pretty sure you weren’t either.” 

Lots of nods of agreement around the room and I expected most people to say that they would never do such a thing. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear comments such as, 

“It would depend on the circumstances....” and “I can understand why Alix did that.”

It had been anxious moment for me. I certainly didn’t want to advocate to young people that they should break the law. But I was very keen for them to understand the huge dilemma Alix was faced with and the decisions that she had to make, even though they were so difficult. 

The important point in HIDDEN is that Alix only has to help hide the immigrant, a failed and very tortured asylum seeker, for a few days until he is feeling better and they can contact a refugee organisation to accompany him to the authorities and speak up for him.

Are there any circumstances when you would be prepared to lie to the police?

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