West Midlands Police have had to apologise after one of their officers was caught on camera calling a member of the public an “idiot” and wrongly detaining him after he declined to give up personal information he was not obliged to provide.
A viral video uploaded to social media shows police officers loitering in a car, demanding to know what he is “up to” out of the house during lockdown.
The man replies that he is on his way to work — which West Midlands Police now accepts was a “clearly a justifiable reason to be out and about” — but one of the officers continues to press him for personal information. He initially goes along with it, giving the officer the name of the street he lives on, but calls a halt when the officer demands his name.
While people in modern-day Britain increasingly believe that those with “nothing to hide” have “nothing to fear” from the state, it has historically been a country where the people have resisted “papers, please” style interrogations from the authorities as an infringement of their civil liberties.
The man in this incident declines to give his name on the basis that the officer had no right to demand it if there was no reasonable suspicion he was committing any offences.
“We’re here to enforce legislation, mate, so I need to know who you are,” the officer insists, becoming enraged when the man asks him to turn his body camera on.
Show me your papers! https://t.co/5wncpnyiLW
— Francis Hoar (@Francis_Hoar) January 28, 2021
“Under coronavirus legislation, you have to provide me with some details,” he demands, wrongly, repeatedly advancing on the man as he attempts to maintain social distance.
“You’re arguing. You’re arguing with us. That gives me reasonable suspicion that you’re telling lies,” he continues, also wrongly.
“Why would I allow someone to just pull me over–” the man begins.
“We’re the police, we’re not just ‘someone’, you idiot,” the officer explodes.
“So just because you’re the police–”
“–that gives you the right to stop anyone you want–”
The man is bundled into the back of the police car shortly thereafter.
It’s clear that the officer’s conduct fell far below what we would expect. pic.twitter.com/1vrX40HabO
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) January 28, 2021
“#SORRY” began a statement from West Midlands Police shared on social media in response to the backlash to the incident, conceding that its officer’s conduct “fell far below what we would expect.”
“His manner was not acceptable, not the face of [West Midlands Police], and we will deal with the situation,” the force claimed.
“The man explained he was heading to work – that’s clearly a justifiable reason to be out and about and there was no suspicion he had committed any offences,” it accepts.
“As such, he should not have been challenged in the way he was.”
The force went on to say that the officer “accepted his behaviour was not up to our high standards and we will address this as part of an action plan for his learning and development.”
“Are [police] standing outside butchers shops telling people they should buy their steaks from Tesco? Are they standing at the entrance to Tesco checking where their customers are from?” https://t.co/NaFQnn4Qf6
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 25, 2021
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