Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Tyler Nicked- "Behaving Unusually With A Metal Pole"
Yesterday afternoon I was formally detained by the Metropolitan Police. And I have the Stop and Search docket to prove it.
What was I doing? Drug dealing? Causing an affray perhaps?
No. I was standing a hundred yards from New Scotland Yard, in Caxton Street SW1, making a video about police waste for the Taxpayers' Alliance.
My afternoon began when I set myself up with my camera in front of that famous revolving Scotland Yard sign, exactly where all those TV reporters stand. I began talking into the camera, which is mounted on a hand-held monopod (a bargain at £14.99 from Jessops).
Within about 30 seconds I was approached by a PC who asked what I was doing. This turns out to be quite common while out filming, so I explained.
He responded by asking if I was with the media, and I said 'yes- 18 Doughty Street'. Amazingly, he'd never heard of it! He then said I was in a sensitive area, and asked how long I would be? I told him a few more minutes, and he said OK. But by remaining right beside me watching and listening, he put me off my stroke. So I thanked him civilly and moved off down the street, well away from the Yard.
A few more minutes passed and I carried on filming myself talking into the camera. I was then apprehended by two of Blair's Community Police Officers.
Again, they asked me what I was doing, again I explained, and again they told me I was in a sensitive area. They then said they'd observed me "behaving unusually with a metal pole". And even though I showed them exactly what I was doing- and showed them my "script" comprising pages printed from BOM- they very politely told me I was to receive a Stop And Search.
For those that don't know, Stop and Search is a multi-page form introduced after the Stephen Lawrence case, which the officer has to fill in with all kinds of box-ticking and other assorted guff, including the suspect's ethnic group ( which the suspect has to complete himself, in case a wrong guess by the officer "causes offence"). It took the officers- two of them remember- 20 minutes to complete, with doubtless further time required back at the station to process and record.
So while one of them was busy ticking and writing away, I asked the other if I could go on filming afterwards. Not there I was told. OK, where could I go? He couldn't say because, although not formally defined, the whole of Westminster- and other vast swathes of London- constitute a "sensitive area". So I'd probably get stopped again.
Well, why don't they stop the tourists queuing up to have their snaps taken in front of the Scotland Yard sign? Ah, well... that's because they're tourists. I wanted to ask about the big bearded Asian ones with the 500mm telephoto lenses, but I guessed that might land me inside on a race-hate wrap.
And how come they don't stop mainstream TV journos filming outside Scotland Yard? Ah,well, that's because they're TV broadcasters... they have big crews and that. Which clearly makes the whole thing a lot safer than some loopy white middle-aged bloke with grey hair and specs talking to a metal pole.
So after they'd taken ID and radio-namechecked me, I took myself off down to College Green outside Parliament. That's always full of loopy guys talking guff, and nobody batted an eyelid down there.
After I'd calmed down, I came up with the three questions I'd like answered:
1. WTF should I be recorded on a Police database for filming myself on a public street in central London?
2. WTF are the police wasting time on nonsense like this, when really bad stuff like this is happening?
3. WTF is the Met's terrorist profiling so pants that someone like me gets caught in it?
I am old enough to remember when law-abiding taxpaying middle-class types used to have respect for the police. But the more the cops harrass and criminalise us, the more we understand how fundamentally dysfunctional they have become.
Violent crime and anti-social behaviour rage on our streets, yet all our £16bn pa cops can do is close police stations, and spend a man-hour infringing my civil liberty.
With the likes of Sir Ian Bonkers Blair at the controls, the current system is broken irrepairably. We must demand elected Met Commissioners and sheriffs, and put guys of our choosing in charge.
Posted by Mike D at 8:12 am