Despite the fact that nobody is entitled to privacy in a public place, the police seem to believe that they are the exception. A fact proven by the amount of successful claims I have helped others bring against officers who make verbal threats or use physical force to prevent people from taking photos or video in public.
Why the police have a phobia to being recorded in public, I have never established. They certainly don’t object to the 5.9 million CCTV cameras that stare down at us without our consent. The West Yorkshire officer in this video gives no particular reason why he doesn’t want to be filmed, but when the cameraman replies that he has a right to record, the officer grabs at the camera, barks out an order and then marches off like a petulant teenager.
The cameraman – William Draper – contacted me to ask my opinion on the attack. It was clear immediately from the video that the officers actions were assault and battery, of which there was no defence. The officer was totally within his rights to ask not to be filmed, but Mr. Draper was under no obligation to heed that request.
Unfortunately, most police officers believe that every request they make should be automatically fulfilled, regardless of lawful authority. They are so used to members of the public shrinking back when they approach, or doing precisely as they are told, it comes as a complete shock when somebody rightfully disobeys. Unfortunately, most officers take this as a personal affront and then behave like backstreet thugs, enforcing their will for the benefit of their own dinted egos and any members of the public who may be watching.
I advised Mr. Draper not to waste his time with the police complaints process and to begin civil proceedings instead. In the highly unlikely event the complaints department upheld the complaint, they would either blame the complainant or do nothing to prevent the officer from assaulting members of the public again. Dodging liabilty for a civil action is an entirely different matter. The video evidence was everything that Mr. Draper needed to make the police’s liability for assault impossible to deny. Without it, the officer would no doubt have provided an entirely re-imagined version of events. Another reason why you should ALWAYS RECORD THE POLICE whenever confronted by them, regardless of the circumstances.
With just 2 letters to the force solicitors, West Yorkshire Police agreed to pay a sum of £100 in compensation. A small sum, it’s true, but unfortunately not much less than what you could expect from a court claim for an incident of this nature. Furthermore, by forcing the police to admit liability, disciplinary action against the officer should naturally follow. However, even when faced with insurmountable evidence, you can always rely on the police to save a fellow officer from being reprimanded. When I suggested to the solicitor that she refer the case to the Professional Standards Department, she wrote back saying that the police had been unable to identify any of the officers who were on the street that day. All 5 of them. Despite being given the exact time, place, video snapshots and of course, despite the fact the police would have all the associated logs, reports and vehicle tracking systems of every officer deployed that day.
Both myself and Mr. Draper found this excuse unconvincing. I advised him to make a complaint anyway as the police are under a statutory obligation to identify the officer and should they fail to do so then the IOPC will be obliged to step in.
Regardless of how complicit West Yorkshire police are in helping this thug evade punishment, this is another success against the police and a good advertisement as to why anyone who has been the subject of such an assault within the past 6 years – and has the video evidence to prove it – should make the same type of claim, with the confident expectation of winning every time.