Sunday 28 August 2011

I Was Almost Arrested

The following as a document that I have just sent to the local police. It is part of a more detailed complaint relating to a visit I made to Milngavie Police Station on the 14th August 2011. My visit was to report an incident/crime that I considered and still consider to be serious in nature. I have removed details of this from this blog as I still wish to pursue this with the police. I have also removed the officers name as this could prejudice any investigation.

The majority of this document was written upon returning home from the police station. At this point I was a little shell shocked. For a while I was not sure I was going to get home without being arrested.....

Arrived at the station at approximately 2:30pm. Talked to lady at front desk. Showed attached documents xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
I explained briefly the problem to the lady officer, who took the documents away. She came back and explained that after talking advice, she was not bringing the officer she was speaking to, out (more senior?). If she did, ‘you wouldn’t be leaving the station without being arrested’. Obviously I was quite shocked by this statement and asked for clarification.

She suggested that I was not allowed to cycle with a helmet camera the way I do, and posting the videos in a public place, i.e. licence (number) plates and faces are private. She also said I was not allowed to post on YouTube. I was of course shocked by this statement and mentioned that I have already talked to lawyers etc and that I have taken advice from the Information Commissioner. She continued to point out that the advice she had been given (from her colleague) was contrary to this. Eventually she said, ‘Right! Wait here!’. She disappeared off into the station. Her manner was suggestive of, ‘now you’re getting into trouble’. I was expecting to be arrested.

A short while later Officer xxxxxx  came out and took me to an interview room. It was made very obvious that they were not interested in my crime report, only in the ‘illegal’ nature of my filming and posting.

Officer xxxxxx and another officer, who entered the room (I did not get his name) started stating that what I was doing was illegal and that videoing and posting videos to YouTube could get me arrested. They pointed out (all the way through the discussion) that number plates and faces are private and that I have no right to film them. I fact officer xxxxxx pointed out that his number plate had his initials on it and he considered it private. I pointed out several times that all the information that I have (including the Information Commissioner) suggests that filming and posting as I do is perfectly legal. They told me I was wrong. 

I felt that they softened their tone as the discussion went on and they then were suggesting that I could be sued by someone for one of my videos. They did however say that, if I cycled past a school, and inadvertently filmed some children, that if a parent was alarmed by that, I could be arrested  for filming children. Officer xxxxxx said ‘I would arrest you, no questions asked’.  I pointed out that the issue of intent, i.e. that my filming has nothing to do with filming children. He agreed that this would be a matter of the courts or procurator fiscal. Is it policy to arrest people who film children without question if a complaint is received?

I then asked about xxxxxxxxx (my crime report). He dismissed this off hand. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

On a number of occasions he pointed out that organisations need CCTV signs when using cameras and he asked a few times if I was licenced to film. He suggested that I needed to be, and as far as he was concerned what I did was not exempt from the DPA under the recreation exemption. He asked me to define ‘recreation’ with regards to the DPA. I pointed out that I did not know this and that was why I contacted the Information Commissioner. 

I also pointed out that I had reported incidents before, and I mentioned an incident that I reported to Milngavie police station of an oil tanker that nearly killed me. I described in detail why it didn’t go to court in the end due to a Supreme Court ruling meaning that the original testimony of the accused no longer being acceptable for use in court. He seemed a little confused about the issue of corroboration at first, i.e. I pointed out I’d need an expert witness to talk to my footage as it was not seen as independent otherwise (specific to Scots law I believe). Upon considering this, he agreed. I pointed out that all the way through this investigation when talking to the police and the Procurator Fiscal that no-one suggested my filming was illegal. He was dismissive of this.

At one point he pointed out that if a woman decided to strip off in her front garden and I inadvertently filmed her (and she saw me and complained), he would arrest me for that. This is blatantly not true.

I also pointed out that the MET in London actively encourage the use of helmet cameras. Officer xxxxxxxx pointed out that that was in England and this was Scotland, so would explain the difference. This of course is wrong as the data protection act is UK is covers both Scotland and England.   
The meeting ended with nothing being done about xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and I felt shocked by the way I was treated as the accused. 

On the way out I mentioned that the lady at the desk had suggested that I could get arrested today. He agreed that was not the case, but that I had to be careful.

I left the station at approximately 15:00. I felt very shocked by the experience. It really did cross my mind that they were going to arrest me when they took me through. Very unpleasant!!


  1. Quite shocked to hear about this. No reasonable expectation for privacy when in public, etc. And someone coming to the police for help after being in danger and being offered quite the opposite to help.

    I take it you're the only camera cyclist in Glasgow? He might have reacted this way having never heard of this behaviour, whereas in London there are many helmet cam riders.

    Hope after some time for some sober second thought on this issue, the officer changes his mind on this.

  2. At one point he pointed out that if a woman decided to strip off in her front garden and I inadvertently filmed her (and she saw me and complained), he would arrest me for that.

    Or you could make a complaint of "indecency" against her under Scots law.

    Why are the police interested in dealing with real crimes, such as Threatening behaviour?

  3. I find this distressing to read, it reaffirms why many people no longer trust the Police.

    There are other cycle riders with cameras up there now, they're going to have to get used to this. Stuff like this makes it look as if they're trying to make excuses so as not to do the job we the taxpayer employ them for.

  4. This ties in with my own experiences of reporting crimes to the local police. Both times, I've been threatened with arrest rather than the police being interested in the criminals. Once for photographing local neds jumping on a company's vans in their premises (causing hundreds of pounds of damage. Despite numerous calls from many neighbours and witnesses, the police couldn't travel the 100m from the station to catch them. I tooks pics as evidence should they later wish to identify the culprits once the company reported the damage. However, when I called the police to tell them I had photos of the vandals they threatened to come and arrest me 'for taking pictures of children who were not known to me'. They weren't interested in catching the criminals, just in coming round to 'do' me!

    The other occasion was when I chased a gang of kids out of the common stair, and witnessing one of them make off with a bike. When they scarpered, they left behind a poly bag containing school gym kit and jotters, which had a name and address on them. I phoned the police to report the theft & tell them I had a bag which identified one of those involved. I was then advised to go outside, see if the kids were still there and hand them their bag back,"or else we'll come round and do you for theft, sir". A week later the same kids got in and stole our baby travel system that was in the hallway. When I reported that, I was asked if there'd been any suspicious activity recently. On telling them about the previous trouble, I was told that the police should have come round & taken the bag as evidence & visited the kid in question. Had they done so, the next theft might have been prevented. Alas - it wasn't done & we lost a £150 buggy that couldn't be claimed on insurance as 'it wasn't chained up'.

    Small wonder that I no longer bother reporting crime. Rather than go after criminals, the police seem to prefer the easy route of trying to arrest the person reporting it so they can keep their arrest stats looking good.

  5. Unfortunately this does not surprise me, imagine if you where less articulate or from another group that suffers prejudice.

  6. next time you go to see the police leave your camera on "accidentally" then you could document there aggressiveness behavior.

  7. Sometimes it feels like we're banging our heads against a wall.

  8. You could have a word with the cycling silk:

  9. The officer in question is on leave just now so there will be a delay in the complaint. However, the police I have talked to have confirmed that there is nothing criminal in my filming, whatsoever.

    As for the idea of filming secretly in the police station...I'm pretty sure they would have reason to arrest me then! :-o

  10. I hope your complaint gets some heads knocked together.

    Trying to bluff you in this area of law when they don't know it is bad enough. Threatening arrest is on another level.
    I doubt they would actually try and arrest you as a lawyer would quickly pull apart the reason for arrest (always ask for legal representation).

  11. Hummm, I wonder if the uniforms have been told to target you for doing too good a job pointing out the lack of effective roads policing? The C(unts) I(n) D(isguise) also don't like having their poor driving pointed out, funnily enough the last time I did that I got a 'home visit' for naming one of their 'hidden' locations, I wonder if one of those you've shown is a copper???

  12. I have never heard such rubbish in my entire life, the coppers need a good talking to, if they have threatened to arrest I would have been tempted to make a citizens arrest of assault. what complete rubbish. Sounds like you need a lawyer friend to write a stern letter to the chief of police

  13. Get your MSP on the case. This is completely unacceptable. And/or one of the local newspapers. This sort of behaviour requires to be shamed out of existence.

  14. By the way, completely off-topic here, but I've just moved to Glasgow and am commuting between Possil and the Southern General. Enjoyable cycling thus far till today when I encountered a 30 metre long foot-deep puddle in the middle of the northbound Clyde cycle tunnel. Is this normal? It wasn't like that on Monday or Tuesday!

  15. I was wondering if anythign else happened from this? Did you get your MP/MSP involved, or make a complaint about the training standards of Strathclyde police?

  16. SO it's confirmed then.
    The police would rather you didn't trouble them, and took your own revenge on dangerous drivers, as they would rather persecute the victim.

    Out with the keys, folks!

  17. ' if a woman decided to strip off in her front garden and I inadvertently filmed her (and she saw me and complained), he would arrest me for that.'
    LOL does that happen a lot in Milngavie ?

  18. A quick google search reveals that it is not illegal to photograph children in the uk either. Lots of fictional laws being enforced while the actual real road safety laws are not.