Another officer caught using lockdown rules to abuse police power

One of the police officers who arrested a commuter
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On Wednesday 27 January, a Twitter user shared a video of a West Midlands police officer stopping, harassing and arresting a man on his way to work. The officer’s abuse of police power reflects the draconian policing that has taken place throughout the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. With the introduction of new police powers, we have seen officers lean further into toxic police culture. This incident isn’t the case of one rogue officer, but reflective of an institution built to protect the elite and disempower ordinary people.

Caught on camera

In the video, a police officer stops a commuter and asks for his personal details under the guise of enforcing coronavirus legislation. The officer proceeds to harass the man, then arrests him for refusing to disclose his name and address, saying “we’re the police, not just ‘someone’, you idiot”.

Abuse of police powers

Kevin Blowe, coordinator for the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) told The Canary:

Read on...

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The person who was stopped complied by explaining he was on his way to work but although the police can stop you at any time and ask you questions, you do not have to answer them or give your personal details. Demanding a name and address was unlawful…

Police officers often use the authority of their uniform, the threat of arrest or outright aggression to frighten people into handing over personal details when there is no legal basis for demanding it.

He highlighted the importance of filming interactions with the police, saying:

It is remarkable that the young man not only managed to stay so calm but kept filming: without the video, this would have been just another everyday abuse of police powers, currently made worse by the guise of ‘enforcing lockdown regulations’, that would never have led to any possibility of accountability.

Draconian enforcement of lockdown measures

Solihull police commander, chief superintendent Ian Parnell responded to the video, confirming that the incident will be investigated. And the police force has now issued an apology. But as Blowe highlighted, it is unlikely this would have happened without the footage taken by the man.

But this is far from an isolated incident. The introduction of new offences and increased police powers in response to the coronavirus pandemic have given officers more opportunities to infringe people’s civil liberties.

Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen an increase in stop and search figures, inconsistent enforcement of lockdown measures, and Tories flouting the rules while ordinary people are met with extreme policing. People from ethnic minority and socio-economically marginalised groups have been disproportionately affected by the inconsistent, authoritarian policing of the pandemic. Black Lives Matter protesters were subjected to oppressive policing while exercising their right to protest. And unnecessary arrests put people at great risk of contracting the deadly virus. Prime minister Boris Johnson’s “non-essential” trip to Scotland confirms that there’s one rule for the ruling elite, and another for ordinary people.

In these troubling times, it is extremely important for ordinary people to stand up for their rights and challenge the unequal, draconian policing of this pandemic.

Featured image via @C1Haywood/Twitter.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Interesting that on twitter, there are quite a few saying “Why did he not just give his name and address, and he’d be on his way.”

      But of course, if you gave them a name and an address, next they would want proof of that, because you COULD give any name and any address! And how many stating that he should just have done this, carry some form of identity when they are innocently going to work? It isn’t a requirement in the UK, and hasn’t been since WWII.

      1. The answer to the idiots on Twitter who say ” Why did he not just give his name and address and he would be on his way”. Is, where do they think the fine would be sent to? Give me your name and address or where is your ID? That reminds me of something, oh I remember, back in WW2 it was, “Where are your Papers” ?

    2. Aren’t they having trouble recruiting of late? Why not have a TV campaign along the lines of ‘Are you a complete prick, with nowhere to invest your utter dysfunction?’ Maybe it seems boring because they can’t do what the police do in Russia. But you will soon, Sir, you will soon! Join up now while they’re giving the water cannon a sprucing up.

      Seen dozens of these now and witnessed a little bit of it in town. there’d be more if it wasn’t a town of obedient Brexiters and Boris-worshippers.

      I suppose we could say that there are at least cases where a good person ends up thinking in dumb, paranoid terms once working as a police officer, but in this case such thinking would be ignoring the racial profiling angle the stopped party here is good enough to refer to only subtly with restraint. This would-be police officer already has a problem.

      We need a police service – something to strive towards at some point in the next couple of hundred years maybe. But all the while these arseholes are pissing on their chips there is no reason to cooperate or to try not to be rocking the boat. I don’t blame the harrassed for having the self-respect to try and put this fucking prat in his place, which thankfully or hopefully has come about since.

      We need a bent copper database as well, I think – websites full of their names and pictures, with no reason for needing evidence before an officer goes up on it, as evidence doesn’t seem to mean anything.

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