More Neue Arbeit Police State tactics


It's long, sorry!

Cover Story
New Labour’s police state

On Wednesday 3 November I was driving along the Embankment towards the City when a police constable stepped out into the road and flagged me down. It was 11.30 in the morning, and I was in reasonable time for a meeting with some corporate lawyers which was due to start at midday.

The constable was accompanied by another policeman and a group of three men in what looked a little like traffic wardens’ uniforms, with pale blue bands round their caps. These, I later discovered, were Mr Blunkett’s new militia, the police community support officers. Their task, according to Sir John Stevens, is to ‘perform the vital role of security patrols in central London, deterring criminals and providing intelligence to police officers’.

‘We are conducting random stop and search under current anti-terrorist legislation,’ began the constable, addressing me through my open side window. ‘Would you mind if we searched your vehicle? We’re training these new community support officers.’

Although a little worried about being late for my meeting, I was impressed by their air of professionalism and vigilance. I was pleased that the government was doing something to keep us all safe and thought it would be selfish to refuse. ‘I don’t mind at all,’ I replied, ‘as long as it doesn’t take a huge amount of time.’

I unlocked the doors and they went through my car and its contents: my overnight bag, my wash bag and glove box. Next, they gestured towards my briefcase and asked if I could open it. Of course, I said, and as I lifted the lid I pointed out to them a Victorinox Swiss multi-tool, contained in a small webbing case, and a small collapsible baton, contained in another piece of webbing.

It is perfectly legal to buy both of these items. The penknife I carry because I find it useful for many small everyday tasks —cutting through packaging, opening bottles. The baton I bought over the Internet to keep at home for security reasons. I live in a rural part of Suffolk that, although thankfully relatively crime-free, is policed very sparsely. I often hear people outside the house at night — that same Wednesday evening, for instance, my wife discovered a harmless but mentally ill tramp yelling loudly in a nearby barn — and I feel more comfortable with the baton inside the front door. A week or so before my police search, I had discovered my nine- and twelve-year-old girls playing with it and had locked it in my briefcase for safekeeping.

The community support officers reacted immediately. They behaved as if they had never seen a penknife before, pulling out the bottle-opener, the corkscrew, the thing that gets stones out of horses’ hooves. ‘This device has a locking blade,’ said the constable, after which a short, whispered debate ensued. My goodwill towards the police began to give way to alarm. I reached for my mobile to call the lawyers and explain that I was going to be late for my meeting, but the constable stopped me. ‘Turn that phone off,’ he said. ‘You’re about to be arrested for possessing offensive weapons and carrying a bladed instrument in public. You’ll be allowed one call when we get you to Charing Cross police station.’

I felt confused and indignant. As we stood by the side of the road, waiting for a police van to arrive, I asked the constable whether this whole business was, in his opinion, a valuable use of police time and resources. This was when the policemen and the PCSOs started to become hostile. ‘You’ve committed an offence, mate, and you’d better get used to the fact that you’re going down for six months,’ said one policeman.

‘Do you realise, sir,’ said another, ‘that behind us is the Ministry of Defence, a key target for potential terrorists?’

‘But why did you stop me in the first place: do I seriously look like a potential terrorist?’ I asked.

‘We stop one in every 25 cars on a random basis, and, let me tell you, sir, criminals and terrorists come in many different guises,’ replied the policeman.

‘Shouldn’t you be concentrating on men of Arab extraction?’ This seemed to me to be a sensible question, relevant to the current state of the world. The policeman said, ‘That is a racist comment, sir.’ Then the van appeared. I was locked in the back and ferried to Charing Cross. As we drove there, the policemen made small talk. They told me that they would be out for a pint tonight, whereas I was going to prison. They wondered what it would feel like for me not to be sleeping in my own bed.

Upon arrival at Charing Cross, I was subjected to the as-seen-on-TV rigmarole of being booked in by the desk sergeant. Most of the questions focused on my racial origin and HIV status. They asked if I had a craving for non-prescription drugs, and if I required any religious paraphernalia. My belt and personal effects were removed, and after a statutory telephone call to my lawyer I was ‘banged up’.

By this time it was about 12.20 and I spent the next three hours dozing on a wooden bench. At about 4.30 p.m., my solicitor had arrived and it was time for an ‘interview under caution’. First, I had to be fingerprinted. The police constable who had originally flagged me down reappeared, and began the arduous business of ‘processing’ me. The man’s lack of competence was comical. He had problems applying my fingers to what appeared to be a sophisticated and expensive fingerprint-scanning machine, and with each failed attempt he became angrier and angrier. Tired and fed up, I gave in to the temptation to needle him. ‘Having problems with your new toy?’ I asked. He replied, ‘Shut the **** up, you ********.’

He was no better at operating the tape recorder used for my interview. Much fumbling of cassettes was followed by screeching noises from the equipment. During the interview itself, I found him inarticulate, incompetent and only tenuously in control of his temper.

After the interview, I was re-introduced to my cell. I understood from my solicitor that the same police constable would speak to the Crown Prosecution Service, and a decision would be made about whether to charge me formally. I was also told that if the policeman had wanted to, he could have let me off with a caution after my car had been searched and the penknife and baton discovered.

Sitting in my cell, I thought a bit about the way I had been treated. For the police to be behaving like this at a time when we are all concerned about terrorism and street crime, and when resources are stretched and manpower is limited, seemed extraordinary. It was also, I decided, in direct contrast to the qualities of professionalism, endurance and discipline that are the hallmark of Britain’s armed forces. I have (now long outdated) personal experience of two training establishments, the old Guards’ Depot at Pirbright and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, both of which are successful in creating tough but professional men who are in control of their actions and able to make sensible decisions under pressure. Whether on the streets of Belfast, in the mountains of Bosnia or in the deserts of Iraq, lieutenants and second lieutenants as young as 19 and 20 provide the linchpin between senior officers and rank-and-file men on the ground.

And this, I suspect, is the problem with the police — they have no proper training and no officer corps. The old adage goes ‘there is no such thing as bad soldiers, only bad officers’. The scruffy, overweight, badly turned-out, ill-mannered policemen I encountered at Charing Cross police station were desperately in need of decent leadership.

So I was not surprised when I was brought back before the desk sergeant and told that the CPS had made the decision to go ahead and charge me with possessing an offensive weapon and carrying a bladed instrument in public. I was bailed to appear at Bow Street magistrates’ court and informed that I was free to leave.

As I was about to pass through the door to freedom, I am ashamed to say that I snapped. The knowledge that we could, so easily, have avoided the whole drawn-out, expensive and upsetting procedure was too much for me. I turned to the police constable and said, ‘You really are a prize ******.’ At this point, and in full view of my solicitor, he lost it. He grabbed my lapels, and pushed me up against the wall. My solicitor yelled, ‘You have just assaulted my client!’

Four other police officers rushed into the corridor, accompanied by the desk sergeant. ‘Right, rearrest him: public order, breach of the peace,’ shouted the sergeant at me. ‘You’ll be spending the night here.’ My solicitor said that she wanted the assault entered in the daybook, and that we would be bringing an action. So they let me go.

the aftermath of my experience, I started some purely anecdotal research on the type of behaviour and attitude displayed by the police towards me. In speaking to friends, acquaintances, tradesmen, cab drivers and people in the pub I rapidly came to realise that a quite staggering number of ordinary, law-abiding people had endured similar experiences.

It is worth remembering how new these powers are. It is only since the Terrorism Act of 2000 that the new community support officers, in the company of a constable, have been allowed to stop and search a car; and that is by no means all they can do. After a mere three weeks’ training, a CSO can give you a £30 fixed penalty ticket for such minor derelictions as riding your bike on a pavement, or dropping a crisps packet. He or she may take away your booze if you are drinking in public, or confiscate the fags of an underage smoker. These CSOs may detain you by force for 30 minutes, pending the arrival of a police officer, if they think you may be guilty of an arrestable offence. And who can doubt that they will soon be able to demand the production of an ID card, and detain you if you fail to produce it?

And on it goes. Last week Parliament passed the new Civil Contingencies Act, which gives the government astonishing powers to declare and prolong a state of emergency sine die. This week Her Majesty announced in the Gracious Address that there is to be a new Counter-Terrorism Bill, and among its provisions are rumoured to be judge-only Diplock courts for terrorist suspects.

Such measures are surely only justified in a society at war, and they might be acceptable if we were truly a nation under siege. But that is not how it feels to most of us. We have a terrorist threat to London and elsewhere, a chronic and worrying problem; but that does not amount to a war, any more than the IRA bombing campaigns of the 1970s did, and yet we are enacting measures more repressive than those applied in the Blitz.

By the way, once I had been sprung from the police station, I walked back to the Embankment, where my car had been left since the arrest. It was, by this time, 6.45 in the evening and, sure enough, there on my windscreen was a Metropolitan Police parking ticket. One further thing — I have just found out from my solicitor that the copy of the interview tape sent to us by the police is entirely blank.

Nicky Samengo-Turner, formerly an investment banker, now works in the Formula 1 motor-racing industry. The Metropolitan Police said, ‘This matter is currently sub judice and as such it would be inappropriate for us to comment on any of the information in the article.’


Top tip don't carry a locking pen knife in your briefcase.

Oh and if he had gone 10m down the road, had a touch of raod rage and stabbed someone, who would be in the wrong? The copper who let him carrying on with. The law maybe an ar$$e, but it has come from situations that have needed to be tightened up. Therefore giving the Police powers to deal with things. Be aware in London the Terrorist Act allows searches for no actual reason, City of London Police use them daily, so be aware London isn't the place to pi$$ the Police off.

If you dont like the laws, write to Mr Blunkett get them changed. Especially if you want Samuri sword wielding maniacs cutting about.

Just like the Forces there are conkers in uniform, there are the same in the Police service.
Typical Spectator - assumes that the core problem with the rozzers is a lack of an 'officer corps'. My arrse. It's the nature of coppers to turn into authoritarian little Hitlers, if they weren't before they went in. Just need to look at our own dear Monkeys to see that. The new powers they have, and the ones on the way, will only make things worse.

Sounds like the guy who wrote the article is just outraged at being treated like that personally - I bet he never gave a second thought to these things when it was just poor/black/foreign people getting stitche up by vindictive thick plods. And the last poster was right - don't whine about getting done for carrying an offensive weapon if you get caught.
Totally agree if your caught with a tool and someone tries to roll you unlucky Mr Scumbag. But if your pulled over by the coppers take it on the chin it was your choice at the end of the day.

That said I don't like the sound of these Community, Police officer people.
Sound like right little weasels.

Just wonder how Fecked i'm gonna get when one tries fining me for dropping a match stick or something similar when I just blatantly ignore him and keep walking.
Would anything locked in the boot of my car be regarded as in a public place ?

I understand that it's illegal to carry a knife, but I thought that there was room for a rozzer to have some discretion depending on the circumstances ? having said that if you carry and get caught don't complain.
Victorinox Swiss multi-tool, contained in a small webbing case
What is exactly the score on these? (yes I've got one excellent bit of kit too) I often have it with me and it's come in handy many a time (car repairs, household repairs etc we all know how useful multi-tools are but definately not mass murder) the locking feature on all blades and tools is a damn good idea, preventing as it does someone as cack-handed as me from hacking my fingers off. :lol:

Now as far as I know I'm ok to carry it in a bag here in Germany but does this mean I'm going to have to leave it here when I head off to UK? :evil:

Have to think of another Chrimbo pressy for my dad now I think :roll:
Having read the article and some of the comments i begin to wonder common sense level of some of our members.

So carry a pen knife is now an offence. Bullox!

Scalie, re-read the article or check out the law, a telespoic baton is not illegal to possess.

Steamy, well what can one say to a die in the wool member of the Socialist Party - We're all to blame, eh!!!!

Get a grip. The police seriously over-reacted and i have no doubt that their lack of training and supervision, from both senior Constables and Officers is to blame.

Think about this. How would that have played out in NI if we arrested someone over such a circumstance. Well, under the powers being used by the mainland police, that is how it is playing out.

The only thing Blind Pugh is doing in creating these new laws is destroying the trust and respect between the common citizen and the Police.
In case law, a locking knife is deemed to be non-folding (idiotic judge), so you can't carry it in a public place without lawful authority (no such thing can be given) or reasonable excuse (ambulance crews can't even carry their rescue knives off duty).

The limits for a knife are a 3" folding blade if you carry it.

And what bothers me most about this case is RANDOM STOP & SEARCH of normal people doing normal things at normal times, not stop & search of dodgy people standing in groups in the shadows at night, or acting suspiciously. And the law on offensive wpns in the UK is an arrse (a pepper spray has the same legal status as a flamethrower, since they both are devices designed or adapted to discharge noxious substances under the 1968 firearms act [as amd]).
Plastic Yank -

errrr, don't quite know why you're having a go at me - I was slagging off the behaviour of the cops in this sad little tale of UK2004. I know from personal experience what they are like, the new rules coming in will be like manna from heaven for a lot of them. They will be able to extend their nasty little habits to the public at large rather than sticking to the scrotes on the estates. Innocent until proven guilty? How 20thC!
(a pepper spray has the same legal status as a flamethrower, since they both are devices designed or adapted to discharge noxious substances under the 1968 firearms act [as amd]).
Might as well carry the flamethrower then. :wink:
armourer said:
(a pepper spray has the same legal status as a flamethrower, since they both are devices designed or adapted to discharge noxious substances under the 1968 firearms act [as amd]).
Might as well carry the flamethrower then. :wink:
Quite. Although the police would treat it differently, thankfully (there's guidance on this). And if/when they ban replica guns and/or make the carrying of replicas subject to the same penalties as carrying real gats, guess what the small time gangstahz will do??? :roll:
Certainly leave the baton at home if the copper dont like you
your in trouble the swiss army tool come off it its a pen knife very useful
carry a gerber myself unless going down the pub.Its amazing how often you need one .espically when you forgot it :lol: .
The coppers on the cheap community wardens or whatever are a good idea as real officers cant be bothered with truants or people riding bicycles on the pavement or droping fag ends or those countless minor
problems we wouldnt have if people behaved with common decency
to one another
Whilst in general I support the police, there are times when they do themselves no favours.

We have recently had a spate of vehicle break-ins in the car park (40 in two days was the record). The perpetrators (Eastern European pikey types) were spotted on several occasions (and chased once) but the police failed to respond in time to do anything worthwhile. The police officer who is dealing with it wears a fleece jacket with no shoulder numbers; he does not wear a hat, his shoes are filthy and his uniform looks as if he's slept in it. It may be that none of these things affect his job performance, but they most certainly do not inspire confidence in the police. This seems to me to be clearly a fundamental failure of leadership.
VB, you can hire me and the flamethrower out, cheap rates.

Turn said miscreants into krispy kritters :wink:
And you'd have to be blind not to see it.

My concern is for the lack of perspective. If those rozzers were tasked with stop+search to prevent terrorists from smuggling parts of, or complete weapons/explosives into the Capital - they were clearly in dereliction of that task when they arrested that bloke to get back to the warm + dry for the rest of the afternoon.

Had a car-bomb gone down that road after some shirt+tie got lifted for what may/may not amount to rather petty offenses, the police would have failed.

I appreciate that the coppers were obliged to enforce the law, where they see it being infringed but it begs the question:

"Will the Police use their new 'anti-terrorist' laws + capabilities purely for anti-terrorist work?".

That being said, having heard only one side of the story you could question how cooperative the gentleman was.
Plastic Yank said:
Scalie, re-read the article or check out the law, a telespoic baton is not illegal to possess.
I don't need to re-read the article. Get your facts right plastic. telescopic batons are illegal. Criminal Justice Act 1988. I'll quote chapter and verse if you really want.

Plastic Yank said:
Get a grip. The police seriously over-reacted and i have no doubt that their lack of training and supervision, from both senior Constables and Officers is to blame.
And you believe the story without any corrobrating evidence? Good job you're not in the Police
stoatman said:
In case law, a locking knife is deemed to be non-folding (idiotic judge),
Was he? A bit more learned in law than yourself I suspect. He interprets the law as set by Parliament. Therefore, you direct your comments at the law makers.

stoatman said:
The limits for a knife are a 3" folding blade if you carry it.
Again, Criminal Justice Act 1988

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