Last night I went for a walk and as I was approaching home, a car came from behind, pulled along side me and voice called out.
"Hey mate, do you live locally?"
Looking round, I expected someone seeking directions but instead I noticed someone in uniform in an unmarked car. Noticing the "Police Community Support Office" tag on his shoulder so I asked who he was.
He identified himself as a police officer and that he wanted my name and address.
I asked why.
He said that he was the community office for this area, that did not recognise me and that there had been burglaries in the area and as part of his roll he liked to get to know local people.
I asked whether he was a police office and he confirmed he was so I asked to see his warrant card.
He showed me a ID card marked 'Police Staff'.
I pointed out that an ID card was not the same as a warrant card and asked if he was a police constable.
He said he wasn't. At this point I took note of his number 4702 C. Cooper.
He then asked again for my name and address. I politely declined, explaining that I did not feel he had the right to that information. He said he did. I asked him under what statute he thought he had that right and he dug out a little a book. This listed all the powers given to the community officers by the Chief Constable. It took in a couple of minutes to find the right bit (he commented that people don't normally ask for this) and showed me an entry that said "Require Name & Address, Section 4(?) of the Police Reform Act 2002".
Accepting that as evidence I proceed to give him my name and address which he duly entered into a electronic device (a Blackberry I think). He then asked if I had been in trouble with the police before. I refused to answer that question.
He then asked if I had just moved to the area. I refused to answer that question.
There followed a lengthy exchange I as politely explained that I disagreed with many of the police powers introduced over recent years and that the whole idea of police randomly stopping people was wrong. Officer Cooper explained that if was a local resident I would be happy to have the police stopping people and getting to know them.
I asked how big his patrol area was and it turned out that it was half of Beeston plus some of Stableford and Wollaton. He became defensive when I pointed out that it covered at least 10,000 people not to mention the busy roads and shopping areas this covered and how impossible it was for him to get to know everyone in that area. When asked why he choose to stop me* refused to respond. He claimed that there had been a spate of burglaries in the area and local residents should be happy about this police action. When asked where this burglaries were he revealed the area in question was Broxtowe in general (30 sq miles, population 112,000). When asked, he also revealed that there had been none near where I had been stopped either that night or recently.
Once he had taken my details I asked for a Stop receipt that he duly filled out and I have a copy.
I should note that the conversation was polite at all times.
1) A quick look at the 2002 Police Reform act suggests that the name & address powers
only apply to anti-social behaviour. This is not the case and the stop receipt identifies the reason for stop as "Part of a preplanned operation".
I will investigate further but a complaint may be heading towards the Chief Constable / Police Complaints Authority.
2) Check local crime figures. The last minutes of the police authority
boasts of a significant reduction in burglaries. More digging required to see about Broxtowe specifically.
3) FoI requests about the number of stops performed over the last couple of years. Broken down by Police / Community officers if possible.
4) Letter to local council and MP about lack of training of community officers assuming I'm right about 1. Also complaint about use of unmarked cars. If Jess had been stopped in that situation, I hope she would run and call the police about someone harassing her.
5) Look into what happens to the data collected from the Stop and what options I have to remove it. (None I suspect).
* I suspect I was stopped because of "Wearing a hoodie in a built up area". It was cold and drizzling so my hood was up whilst on a quiet suburban street.