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back to article Kent Police exceeded powers in too-tall photographer case

Police in Kent have at last acknowledged that arresting people for being too tall might not be a very good idea. Or rather, arresting someone for no better reason than "because they could" was unlawful and not altogether sensible. The story begins this July when photographer Alex Turner was stopped whilst taking snaps in …

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However, as there were few terrorist activities in Kent, regular officers generally have a low level of knowledge of anti terrorist legislation

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I dunno - I suppose Maidstone just _looks_ like the result of a terrorist attack?

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Flame

Easy fix

Obviously there should be more terrorism in Kent so that the police force starts to learn its job.

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Black Helicopters

Ok, clear indication of illegality here...

Lets see if Plod arrest themselves now!

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Stop

Make An Example Of Them!

Whoops! I just hit the "Report" button instead of "Reply".

Anyway, yeah, if they don't get nicked, charged, prosecuted and convicted, that will confirm that police are, in effect, somewhat above and beyond the law that the rest of us are under.

All they have to do is think, "What if people who weren't police at all did the same stuff?" Whatever the answer is, that's what should apply to these police, too.

Furthermore, if the police can't uphold and enforce the law within their own ranks, how can they claim to be competent to uphold and enforce the law more generally? Perhaps that's something for the higher ranks to squirm about, realising that to protect their own careers, they need to make an example of the lower ranking plods who committed these crimes of false imprisonment, etc, in the first place. Time to actually root out these few bad apples!

Or does Kent Police want to be regarded as a criminal organisation?

Go on, make an example of them!

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Big Brother

DNA destroyed then

Since the arrest is now declared illegal, then the DNA sample that they would have taken on arrest is now deemed taken illegally. So: has the sample been destroyed ?

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Big Brother

Probably so...

but you must understand that dealing with photographers and average-height people (plus the associated paperwork) will take priority, so the DNA records will be deleted - but not until circa 2016...

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Anonymous Coward

@ alain williams

No DNA in this case as he was only held in a van and that has to be done at a station, your point is still valid though, there are still hundreds of thousands of illegally held (by european law) samples and more are still being taken.

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i don't believe they took one...

He was detained, searched and then dearrested in the street/van.

DNA samples are normally taken at booking in the station.

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Black Helicopters

You *will* be happy

"expressing confidence that the public are happy with the police acting in this way."

Because anyone expressing unhappiness with it will be arrested?

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Big Brother

It's the legislation that is at fault...

Good job he wasn't walking on the cracks in the pavements, otherwise he'd have been off to Paddington Green for 45 days...

Seriously though, how bad does it have to get before people start to demand change? Maybe there is no tipping point; NAZI Germany went happily down the road to perdition without protest significant enough to make a difference, and we are half way to facism already.

Hermann Goering said that getting the population to do the will of government was easy, you just had to tell them they were being attacked (terrorism) and then marginalise the 'pacifists' as unpatriotic enemy sympathisers. Sound familiar?

I'm voicing my protest at least in part via Facebook group "Hang Parliament" and invite others to do the same.

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FAIL

very special branch

They're only special in that they believe they are gods gift to crime fighting and the ends always justify the means.

The state of policing in this country has become an utter fail or should that be this police state has failed as a country

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I think this can be summed up in these two paragraphs...

"El Reg asked Kent Police on several occasions to explain what had happened and also to reveal the precise legal grounds for the arrest. Even if an arrest is subsequently determined to be unlawful, police officers should, at the time of making that arrest, have a clear idea of the legal grounds for so doing, and be able to make that clear to members of the public."

"Failing to respond directly to our inquiry the first time, Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas claimed merely that Mr Turner’s quite legal behaviour was "suspicious" – thereby implying that generalised suspicion, irrespective of any statutory basis for arrest, is good enough for Kent Police."

I think a citizens arrest may be in order for Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas, he is acting very suspiciously indeed! He may even be a terrorist!

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Big Brother

Probably not a terrorist...

Just "The Worst Anti-Terrorist", or T.W.A.T., for short.

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FAIL

Clarification, at last.

So the ACC AND a Chief Super both come out with the line "Don't ask us to understand our powers, chummy:- we make 'em up as we feel we need to. Now get in our van and get yer strides off, you're nicked".

I can sleep soundly & safely in my bed knowing that although my car's being vandalised and my house is being burgled, no 12stone 5'11" man-mountain can photograph my local shopping centre with impunity.

Makes me proud to be English...

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Whoa there, big fella

I am delighted to note that 5' 11'' is now considered "tall". I think I will step out for a spot of light intimidation.

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Unhappy

Worse yet..

As 6 ft 3 and about 13 stone, that must make me a freak of nature- my cameras should be destroyed forthwith, too. I'm probably a terrorist or something, as I have quite big feet and depressingly boat-like shoes, also.

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Paris Hilton

staying away

not visiting the uk any time soon, until you overthrow that police state you're in. @ 6'10" and 280lbs, sounds like I'll not make it through customs hall at heathrow, even if I'm not carrying a camera.

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Pirate

@ Gianni Straniero

'I am delighted to note that 5' 11'' is now considered "tall".'

It is if you are PCSO. That force being made up almost exclusively of those who want to be police officers but drawn from who are too short and/or fat and/or stupid and/or impatient to make it through Hendon, and for whom the robust competitive commercial environment of the Civil Enforcement Officer (fka Traffic Warden) is too directly demanding. Anyone over 5'6" or in possession of a degree from a minor third-world university is a threat to their domination of the public space.

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Gates Halo

Cue Daily Mail induced histeria

Cue Daily Mail induced histeria recalling as many examples of bad policing as possible

Saint Bill because wouldn't it be great if all police were perfect like all IT workers!

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Paris Hilton

Silly

All IT workers are perfect just like my marriage just ask my wife, mistress......or boyfriend.

A/C for so many reasons.

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Daft thing to say

Last time I checked, your average IT worker wasn't employed to be socially responsible, or to uphold a certain set of moral standards as an example to the public, and didn't have the power to affect/arrest those around him on the street for no apparent reason...

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Go

Good...

..now I hope he sues for False imprisoment and False arrest, kick while they're down (or is that only what the Met Do?)

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Re: Good

Don't get your hopes up. The police are, as a body, one of the most vindicatve associations on this planet. If they can't make stick what you were detained for then they will try to justify that detention any way they can until they get something that will stick. In this case he clearly couldn't be done for taking photographs so they went for the intimidation charge. However, now that this judgement has been made and he's effectively got one over on plod I suspect that his days are numbered. The slightest foot wrong and they will have him.

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Kicking is for provincials

The Met don't kick 'em while they're down, as they have a nasty habit of getting back up and telling tales.

Much better to pop a few caps in the head. Dead men don't sue.

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NB
FAIL

take this title and shove it.

Isn't it reassuring that some jobsworth dickheads, on a power trip, that don't have a fucking clue about the laws they're meant to be enforcing, can arrest you for being a bit bigger than them?

I, for one, am thoroughly satisfied with this form of policing. Really I am, it doesn't make me want to punch the lot of them in their collective faces with an enraged rabid badger at all. Nope, not a jot.

This is just the kind of law enforcement we need. Under-trained, insecure and clearly happy to over step the bounds of their authority, these are the officious retards we want patrolling our streets.

Every. Fucking. Day.

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badger punching

So how does that work? Presumably you strap the badger to your knuckles like a large agitated boxing glove, since holding it in your hand to add weight to the punch would need a very small badger or unfeasibly large hands.

Perhaps some sort of small harness with loops for your hand would help. But should the badger be fitted to strike head-first (good bite access and nice solid impact but badger soon unconscious) or is it better to strike your victim with the badgers back or stomach and rely on it delivering enough clawing and snapping to make up for the somewhat cushioned impact?

Interesting. Maybe there's some mileage in just wrapping the badger in industrial-strength double-sided sticky tape and throwing it at whoever annoys you.

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Paris Hilton

Pedantic

1. NB said "punching with badger" nor "badger punching" which implies something else.

2. Sounds a bit complex this badger glove, might be easier just to stick a broom handle up the badger's a**e, that will give you a bit more reach when dealing with 4'9" plods (and the badger can't bite you)

Paris, I've always admired her badger… hang on., I think that’s the wrong animal

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Anonymous Coward

I'm 6'1!

I'm 6'1 and about 13 1/2 stone - should I hand myself in or can I claim asylum in the netherlands?

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Go

Clearly we're all happy

Don't know how this report happened then: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6932548.ece

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FAIL

wrong job

neither 5'11" and 12 stone are abnormal - pretty average really. If the WPO finds this 'intimidating' she is in the wrong job. Why are we wasting tax payers money on employing this ineffectual WPO??

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Badgers

As a smaller person

I am all for the arresting of large people.

I am sick of them standing in front of me at gigs, getting served at bars before me, getting their own tall shops, it needs sorting.

They should all be arrested and forced to serve community service driving old people to the shops in minis.

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Badgers

@lukewarmdog

And we all know that short people shouldn't be allowed to use umberellas...

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FAIL

Since when

Are PCSOs considered "backup" ?

PC - "Officer down! Shots fired! Send backup!"

<hides behind car door waiting for backup>

<PCSO soon arrives on bicycle, wearing full body armour, er, I mean a bike helmet>

PCSO - "Oi you lot, put those guns down before I, er, ask you nicely to stay put until some more real cops come?"

Anyway, I'm 6'2" and 17 stone so I'm going to stay away from Kent in case I frighten the poor little WPCs. Incidentally, the WPC is clearly not capable of being a police officer if she is intimidated by men of, frankly, average height and should be removed from duty immediately.

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The old boys club

will not like this, questioning there ability to harass someone on the grounds that they don't like the look of you.

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FAIL

double plus ungood

Yes, that's right Ch Supt Steve, we are just happy for you to do whatever you want without regard to wimpy human rights. Now go and arrest everyone over 5' 11'. Everyone under 5'11" - pour a bucket of water over their heads.

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Grenade

Money, Money, Money

Okay, this is coming out of my pocket at some point, but unless we start seriously suing these organisations for illegally depriving innocent people of their liberty then they'll keep doing it.

Start handing out 6 figure judgments against them. Make it come out of their operational (including wages!) budget. Make cops turn against cops for doing bad things to the public. Increased crime stats in an area because operational cash went to compensation? Tough, stop doing things that cause you to pay compensation - i.e. keep within the law you purport to uphold.

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Big Brother

he was too big..

or fat or white or black or muslimish or.. just make it up. (once the word isn't to long as PC f***wit usually has little RAM and only a tiny PCU)

when we have f***wits in Parliament guarding the pc plod f***wits and the IPCC f***wits with the balls of a goldfish, what do we expect..

Get me Batman

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Alert

DNA Database

Next task...

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Thumb Up

"The Goodies" predicted this in the 1970s.

In a satirical episode about South Africa, they replaced apartheid with the concept of "apartheight".

Sounds like the WPC in this story was a fan.

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Black Helicopters

Out of work Jockey turned PSCO

Did the knee caps?

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Anonymous Coward

Not a good week to be a Copper...

How many negative policing articles does this make now this week? By my count we must have at least 4 up already...

Good to know their PR is great.

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PR, what PR?

I have often mused that most of the time Police Forces never stick up for themselves in the press to correct biased reporting. I wonder if it would make any difference if they did?

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Anonymous Coward

and a word of praise for el reg

putting yer asses on the line following this up. What has this country come to?

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Black Helicopters

A rare Kent Police Standards result

but dont expect anything to change in the way they operate.

Having been on the recieving end of Kent polices interpretation of the law I can certainly concur that they operate well outside the law when it suits them.

I suggest that the victim should be making a complaint of assault given the fact that the arrest has been deemed unlawful.

Kent Police need to learn that its time to join the human race.

Black Helicopters - no explanation needed

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FAIL

Tchah!

Time was when you had to be 6foot plus to even *be* a copper.

I blame the 'Police Academy' films - do Kent plod use them as training aids?

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Welcome

Let them have their fun

On those wages, consider it a perk.

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Anti-copper?

Hmmmm.

It is always possible that a spate of anti-police articles will follow on from the police doing things that cause the general public to raise their collective eyebrows...

...or, as this is the Register, from police doing TECHY things to cause mass eyebrow-raising.

Personally, I hope that what we do is far more nuanced than that. It also depends in large measure on how clever the police (and other bodies are) at handling flak. It further depends on the old truism that people are interested in news that is bad - not good.

This particular story revisits and develops a story that we reported on in July. We have not invented it: and it seems to me to fall into two parts... an original piece of mis-placed zeal by coppers on the street, followed by a rather cack-handed attempt to spin the facts.

The stuff on the street is pretty mundane. OK: apart from the "too tall" comment. The refusal to answer some pretty legitimate questions, not least in respect of what legislation the arrest was made under, comes under the heading of "when you're in a hole, stop digging".

No matter. In addition to upsetting Kent Police today, I had a productive and friendly discussion with CEOP, ditto with ACPO - and arranged to go chat to a senior police officer whose specialism is not a million miles from the hearts of El Reg readers.

Though whether you'd enjoy reading, day after day, about all the police persons I get on with perfectly well, I am not so sure.

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Paris Hilton

And then ...

... the bobbies wonder why people don't rush to help when asked.

But, of course, it will probably take a 300,000 GBP consultant fee to establish why police - public perceptions of each other tend to go terribly wrong?

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Unhappy

Poor training does not a police state make

Its a shame that what could have been a fairly innocuous incident was spoiled by apparently poor training/knowledge on behalf of the police.

Of course we'll discount the possibility that the photographer might be egging the pudding and that there were no other relevant factors at play and he was as amiable and cooperative as he infers.

It is right that, unusually, the powers the police have for stopping and searching under terrorist legislation do not require reasonable grounds to exercise their use. You can get upset about this if you want but thats the way it is. Other legislation also provides a power to require someone to provide information as to their identity and movements, again requiring no suspicion of any offence. Failing to do so IS an arrestable offence.

What is often confused is that GROUNDS for an arrest are not the same as NECESSITY for arrest.

But based on the story as presented the necessity of the arrest seems to be the issue here. Ironically though you can be "detained" for as long as is necessary to search you, or ascertain your identity and movements which would have amounted to the same thing but not technically been an arrest as such under law.

In all likelihood the police at the time responded negatively to being photographed and used the "gathering information likely to be of use to terrorists". An unkind person might argue that annoying the police was the intention of the photographer by taking their picture in the first place.

Yes the police have made a mistake and yes I suspect rather than admitting it have tried a bit of FUD instead. But in the interests of balance I would say this. I suggest that the majority of people do not like to be photographed and I have come across many who believe it is illegal to do so. If you doubt it, walk up to a stranger getting into their car and take a picture of them and see what happens.

Add that fundamental dislike with the paranoia of the polcie about terrorism and complex legislation and its hardly surprising that this will happen. But that comes back to my first point that Kent police themselves (eventually) admitted, training is key.

I have my own views about WHY you get by default such corporate bollocks from police forces nowadays. But that would just be ranting...

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Paris Hilton

@dave 120

"It is right that, unusually, the powers the police have for stopping and searching under terrorist legislation do not require reasonable grounds to exercise their use."

If I recall a section 43 stop does require reasonable suspicion, whereas if a section 44 order has been issued to designate an area for all stop and search then your example would apply.

A section 44 designation for Chatham is unlikely, its the kind of thing thats imposed on the city of London which is a terrorist target.

And therein lies the problem if its not a section 44 area then reasonable suspicion is required to make an arrest and given the quality of policing in Kent the chance of that is low.

Paris - she isnt frightened of men!

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