My experience of the police

I have just been unfriended on Facebook and, I suspect in real life as well, because of what I said about the police. Here’s what my former friend said:

“I trust then you are going to call the local station and ask to be removed from their protection? And refuse to call them when involved in a serious RTA, even if they get there first and could provide life-saving first response to you or a loved one? Your comment is ignorant at best, and slanderous at worst. I cannot, with clear conscience associate with such venomous, negativity, and thus have unfriended.”

So let me talk about my experiences with the police.

When I was in an serious motorbike accident, a police officer barged into the ambulance while the paramedics were trying to treat me. He started demanding information even though I was in no state to give it, and on hearing me tell the paramedics that I was a diabetic he started demanding to know why I had not informed the DVLA. (I was a tablet controlled type-2 diabetic at the time, none of the DVLA’s business.) He fixated on it, trying to get me to accept responsibility for an accident where a car ploughed into me from behind at a roundabout at 60 or so miles per hour. Eventually the paramedics forced him out of the ambulance.

When I was a victim of hundreds of pounds of fraud over an eBay sale, the police refused to help. I had all the evidence necessary for the police to arrest the fraudster, his home address, details of exactly how he had defrauded me. The police refused to even take my report and insisted that I could go to eBay for help. When I went back to the police and told them that eBay and Paypal would not co-operate, the police told me there was nothing that they could do.

When my motorbike was stolen, they came round, took a report, then said there was nothing they could do. Six months later, the police sent us a letter. Apparently my bike had been found burnt out in a known criminals garden while arresting him for something else. Did they prosecute him for theft? No. They tried to bill me for disposal of the bike.

When the motorbike loaned to me by my insurance company suffered a spate of parts being stolen from it, the police took a report, but never got back to me. There were potential suspects, but the police didn’t follow anything up. Some of those parts (the mirrors, for one) had serial numbers on and could have been used as evidence. I lost quite a lot of money replacing those parts and fixing the damage.

When I worked at a timber company with a fleet of lorries, one of the lorry drivers there was a special constable with Essex Police. He boasted about how he liked to get called in at big events, how he liked the power, how he loved going on raids and roughing people up. He had a very cavalier attitude to rules of the road, and when I pulled up relevant laws about when someone was allowed to stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway or use a mobile phone while moving, he shrugged it off and said he would keep doing it and the police would never do anything as he was a special constable.

This is my experience of the police. And now, many people I talk to tell me how the police physically attack them and people around them. I get eyewitness accounts of police attacking bystanders. I watch live video from scenes of the police taking on whole neighbourhoods. I see obvious lies coming from the police about why they get violent. “Policemen dragged from their horses and beaten” – repeated by the prime minister, no less, completely refuted in my video here – when the damage was probably done by his own horse and his colleagues dragging him away. Claims of petrol bombs as justification for attacking at Stokes Croft appear to have been fabricated as an excuse. Statements giving justification for police actions are released before the events even happen. They discharge CS spray without reason. They abuse the legal process by threatening arrest for refusing to give ID, then using de-arrest afterwards to pretend it never happened. They photograph and build databases on protesters and pretend that the databases don’t exist. They enter places where they have no legal right to enter. They fabricate flimsy justifications when no crimes exist. The whole institution of the police takes that attitude that the police are right, if only due process didn’t get in the way. They abuse stop and search powers given under anti-terrorism bills.

This is why I’m pissed off with the police. Can you blame me?

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

7 thoughts on “My experience of the police”

  1. Yep, sounds like my experience of the police. When my car was torched of the front drive of my house in Leeds I had to write to my local MP to get them to investigate. Seems like setting fire to someone’s property isn’t cause for police investigation but having a bit of weed is clearly a public menace.
    Don’t ever expect them to help you unless it’s asking the way to the train station or something equally banal, the ones that give a damn about their job are far outnumbered by the ones who have trouble thinking or just like bossing people around. The Wire has it spot on.

  2. I think you should also mention well- in some cases it’s corruption, and in others legal, but worrying.

    For example, the whole News of the World situation- although much of this isn’t about normal officers, but the conduct of the High up police will almost certainly filter down.

    Secondly, although the independent police complaints commission exists, it isn’t particularly harsh on police- i can’t remember the statistics, but out of the thousands of complaints they receive a year, they only ever do something with ~200 (i’m quite sure on the stats for that) – and this can lead most police to act with impunity- i mean, for gods sake, the guy who killed ian tomlinson is only being charged for misconduct! The whole monitoring of police will always be difficult, but we still are not nearly harsh enough on them- and the media has a significant role to play- in the stokes croft incident, the police press release was churned out almost verbatim- i understand that there obviously weren’t many people in the office that day, but with things like twitter, it isn;t impossible to write a relatively objective story. Likewise, with ian tomlinson- the media were quite happy to buy the police story- that valiant officers had protected him from a hail of stones from protesters. I do understand why this is- the various companies have enough skeletons under the rug- for example murdoch’s tax avoidance, and they need to be able to get stories from the police, but the response of the media is, every time, to happily support the police. This isn’t to say I’m anti-police- I just think that if you don’t criticise them when they really should be, then corruption can easily be bred- and the media can play a part in improving the police force, as the sunday story in the early 70s which helped to uncover corruption showed.

    The third point is more a philosophical point, which the police can’t really solve- that of the monopoly of violence. As stokes croft showed (to some extent) unneeded police intervention basically starts riots- as it did in brixton. The militarization of the police force also ups the ante- the constant kettling means that sooner or later, people are going to start bringing petrol bombs and tougher weapons to protests- because that ends up the only way to get out of a kettle. And the worst thing is the complete lack of any response from the usual sources. Liberty, although they criticised kettling, said that surrounding a group with the intention of arresting all of them is fine (which sounds remarkably like the danish police tactic of surrounding violent protesters and then arresting everyone in the area- which isn’t a particularly nice tactic either) – and they didn’t even bother to comment on fortnum and masons- the much worse case of infringment of civil liberties in that report. Likewise, the report that came out recently which said kettling at G20 was illegal wasn’t actually that harsh- the situation at climate camp was illegal they ruled, but not the situation at RBS. Again- if you’re in a crowd, where some have broken the law, its somehow legal to imprison you, and then not even bother to catch the law breakers.

  3. Whooah……………….. I haven’t ever had that kind of experience. Once I had a seizure on the way home from collecting my perscription and whilst I was fitting, some boys came and took my bag and meds. I called the police………………..their concern was not me………….it was the boys and my medication, Then when I tried to get replacement meds I was accused of selling them! Really very odd……………………

  4. nothing like a good facebook unfriending to let you know where you stand, eh? I also had a friend who ‘knew’ police (they were in their family) defriended me and sent me a message about how my comments were wrong and hurtful. apparently i ‘couldnt understand what a difficult job they have’
    whereas my response to that was ‘perhaps i couldnt, but i could understand when i am witnessing injustice and inexcusable behaviour of a person in authority.’

    I suppose I am lucky to not have any experiences like this with the police. but perhaps that can be because i have had next to no experience of the police. I also do not visibily do anything considered ‘deviant’ such as ride motorbikes, heaven forbid. Everyone knows people who are visibly deviant must not be trusted, right?

  5. wow youve had some pretty bad experiences with the coppers. when I first started reading your article I thought maybe the first cop was just a jerk but youve got several examples. I haven’t had any bad experiences like yours but I know what your talking about. A lot of police seem to be on a power trip and it’s usually the ones who look like all they do is sit around eating junk food. Some police also seem to decide who is guilty of what BEFORE they even talk to everyone and get all the facts. BUT in the same regard, some middle aged white women are real witches with a capital B, but I’m a middle aged white woman and I’m not. well not all the time lol.
    More importantly I’m a little confused about why someone would de-friend you for expressing your opinion. Everyone has their own thoughts and views about everything and you certainly have a right to feel the way you do about police. Maybe this “friend” is soo insecure they can’t handle someone thinkiing diffferently than they do because it might mean they are wrong.

  6. Your experiences of police should not tarnish all police. It is not true to say that because the few police you have met were not the best ever, that all police are the same, it is simply not logical.

    Yes our motorbike got stolen too (from our garage), yes the police came and did almost nothing (to our knowledge) however… they were friendly, they tried to take fingerprints but were unable, there were no footprints to take, they did not find the bike (we did, gutted in a nearby field). When you have no evidence as to who has done a crime, it is very difficult to prove who has done it unless you just happen upon the joyriders actually riding said bike, which frankly would have been completely by chance, the bike was gutted within 24hours of it being taken! I’m sure the police had suspicions of who might have stolen the bike but in that short a space of time what can you do?

    The policemen I know, are pleasant people. I’ve not met them on the job but I cannot imagine any of them are people who just like the power trip, they are simply overworked and not allowed overtime pay or time off in place and holiday time limited by the station. They are stressed at times, as is the case in many jobs, they do not save up their stress to take out on any protester in sight just because they can.

    I think there is something interesting about group dynamics and how people can change so dramatically and suddenly think that a particular type of behaviour is suddenly acceptable. Like the army officers in Iraq or wherever it was torturing their captives and denying them of human rights and as far as I can work out based on the fact that had the situation been the other way round, that is what they believed they would have received! Perhaps what we should be doing is finding ways to know what will happen before it happens, so that people can be treated as they treat others, all sounds very Minority Report, sounds fantastic but in reality it prevents people from making choices. Yes there will always be situations where people/police react to situations as they happen but there is also elements of then reacting in order to limit what they think might happen based on their experiences of the past: it’s part of human nature to respond this way. Protesters should be working hard to produce a more peaceful image, to not smash things up or cause trouble… which is what they generally want… but which is always difficult when a few people who just want to cause trouble and stir things up join protests, how can you separate the sheep from the wolves? Meanwhile police should be working hard to encourage peaceful protests, allowing them space to express freedom of thought whilst containing those who cause trouble… but again, how can they tell the difference?

    I am not condoning your behaviour or their behaviour in any way, simply stating that the line between good, and bad conduct is a fine one (on both sides of the fence) and knowing how to respond in each situation is a difficult one. You are not a police officer, you cannot fully understand the decisions they have to make, you only see some of the effects of those decisions. It is sometimes easy to spectate and moan, but it is hard to find a solution to the problem. And working on that solution should be a joint effort of people on both sides!!!

  7. I remember one day at work. I was just packing up my electrical equipment ,and was about to jump into my wagon ,with my crew.
    When I heard a god almighty bang. I turned around and my 4 ton wagon was shunted onto the pavement.
    What had happened was a Asian gentleman ,was doing about 70 +mph in a 30 zone
    (whilst on his mobile phone), he had not seen the give way junction
    . Not even noticed ,that he was driving over a dual carriageway, where there was traffic both ways and no forward road for him to actually drive into
    . He had ploughed through our traffic cones and barriers ,wrecking the wagon .

    We had a full chapter 8 safety set up with flashing lights. And were doing our job for the council ( a CCTV camera repair).

    This guy had driven like a maniac, he could have easily killed some one, there are thousands of students, who cross that junction every hour.

    (“come on SHREW get to the point you say”)

    ok when the police arrived most of them acted professionally, and saw the scene for what it was. Until one new age copper turned up ,looked at the guy in the car with his head sliced open. He turned around and said to the policeman who was taking details.” have you breathalysed these yet?” ( meaning me and my team)
    I replied” don’t you think you should breathalise him in the car? We weren’t even in the vehicle when it hit us”
    He then started stropping and asking if we had our chapter 8 out. i said ” I don’t think you will ever make a detective mate, you have just driven into it”
    he said (under his breath) I would love to smack you in the f*** mouth you pr***)
    I said ” heres your chance ,if your going to do it do it now”
    The decent copper, then stood in between to defuse the situation.
    The bad cop walked away. The good cop said “ignore him hes always like that”.

    The point I am trying to make here is there are good coppers ,and bad coppers. I have worked with both, in my capacity as RAPID RESPONCE electrician when there are RTA’s ( road traffic accidents). I am concerned that the bad ones are allowed to even exist in the job?
    ( I’m just glad they are not armed, or COLUMBO would have gunned us down without a thought)
    Oh and for being unfriended in Facebook……. I think I hold the world title for that accolade. (bothered? ….bothered etc ? )

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