Stop and search under s1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, is regularly abused by the police as a means to punish those who refuse to be questioned on the street. But in some cases, they will abuse search powers under s43 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Although the bar of reasonable suspicion is higher under s43 (the police have to believe that the ‘suspect’ is likely to be involved in terrorism) some officers won’t hesitate to abuse it, if it means showing an innocent member of the public who’s boss.
A recent example occurred within this video I uploaded to Youtube in May. It shows PC Glen Crosland performing a vindictive search of a photographer in Aylesbury Town Centre in Buckinghamshire. The search was performed under the guise of S43 of the Terrorism Act.
The photographer had been gathering footage for a project he was working on, filming various public buildings in the local area. It wasn’t too long before he attracted the attention of a couple of idle PCSOs who accused the photographer of pointing his camera at them, even though it was they who had wandered into his frame.
Enter PC Glen Crosland, an officer with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. He furthered the PCSOs’ hysteria by suggesting that the photographer was reconnaissance for the EDL who had planned a march through the town at the weekend. If smearing the photographer as a member of the far right wasn’t enough, Crosland then decided that the photographer’s refusal to show ID was grounds to suspect him of being a terrorist. Crosland threatened to search the claimant by force and if necessary take him to the station, despite the poor man having to pick his daughter up from pre-school within the hour. The Claimant was left no other choice but to surrender to the unlawful search.
To add insult to injury, when the Claimant told Crosland he would make a complaint, the officer threatened to seize all of his camera equipment as evidence, despite the police having no powers to seize evidence that might form part of a police complaint.
The photographer got in touch with me and I helped him sue Thames Valley police for assault, battery, false imprisonment and interference with goods. I also sought aggravated damages on his behalf, not just because of the high handed way that Crosland and his colleagues had behaved, but because the Claimant had been brushed off by the Thames Valley police complaints department who excused the officer’s actions and instead heaped the blame on the Claimant.
The legal department of Thames Valley took a very different stance to the clearly vindictive behaviour of Crosland. They agreed to pay a sum of £3000 in damages and issued that very rare specimen. A police apology:
“It is in my view regrettable that the organisation has not taken the opportunity to learn from this incident, but I have now taken steps to correct that.”
What those steps are, Thames Valley omitted to say, but it is unlikely to be a revocation of PC Crosslands recent award. Ironically, Crosland was awarded ‘Community Police Officer of the Year 2018’, right about the same time he was being sued, which further demonstrates the gulf between what the public think of the police and what the police think of themselves.
My thoughts regarding Crossland and his award are summed up in this short video:
Despite promises of lessons learned, I very much doubt vindictive officers like Crosland will be educated any time soon on the proper use of anti-terrorism laws. Stop and search is a weapon of choice among vast numbers of police officers who wish to inflict summary punishment upon anyone who dares to talk back to them, and they are not going to relinquish that weapon any time soon.