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Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London



 
 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 04:37 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
Bill_Pertwee
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Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

The Spectator - Issue: 27 November 2004

New Labour's police state Nicky Samengo-Turner

http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php?id=5308

On Wednesday 3 November I was driving along the
Embankment towards the City when a police constable
stepped out into the road and flagged me down. It was
11.30 in the morning, and I was in reasonable time for
a meeting with some corporate lawyers which was due to
start at midday.

The constable was accompanied by another policeman and
a group of three men in what looked a little like
traffic wardens' uniforms, with pale blue bands round
their caps. These, I later discovered, were Mr
Blunkett's new militia, the police community support
officers. Their task, according to Sir John Stevens,
is to ‘perform the vital role of security patrols in
central London, deterring criminals and providing
intelligence to police officers'.

‘We are conducting random stop and search under
current anti-terrorist legislation,' began the
constable, addressing me through my open side window.
‘Would you mind if we searched your vehicle? We're
training these new community support officers.'

Although a little worried about being late for my
meeting, I was impressed by their air of
professionalism and vigilance. I was pleased that the
government was doing something to keep us all safe and
thought it would be selfish to refuse. ‘I don't mind
at all,' I replied, ‘as long as it doesn't take a huge
amount of time.'

I unlocked the doors and they went through my car and
its contents: my overnight bag, my wash bag and glove
box. Next, they gestured towards my briefcase and
asked if I could open it. Of course, I said, and as I
lifted the lid I pointed out to them a Victorinox
Swiss multi-tool, contained in a small webbing case,
and a small collapsible baton, contained in another
piece of webbing.

It is perfectly legal to buy both of these items. The
penknife I carry because I find it useful for many
small everyday tasks —cutting through packaging,
opening bottles. The baton I bought over the Internet
to keep at home for security reasons. I live in a
rural part of Suffolk that, although thankfully
relatively crime-free, is policed very sparsely. I
often hear people outside the house at night — that
same Wednesday evening, for instance, my wife
discovered a harmless but mentally ill tramp yelling
loudly in a nearby barn — and I feel more comfortable
with the baton inside the front door. A week or so
before my police search, I had discovered my nine- and
twelve-year-old girls playing with it and had locked
it in my briefcase for safekeeping.

The community support officers reacted immediately.
They behaved as if they had never seen a penknife
before, pulling out the bottle-opener, the corkscrew,
the thing that gets stones out of horses' hooves.
‘This device has a locking blade,' said the constable,
after which a short, whispered debate ensued. My
goodwill towards the police began to give way to
alarm. I reached for my mobile to call the lawyers and
explain that I was going to be late for my meeting,
but the constable stopped me. ‘Turn that phone off,'
he said. ‘You're about to be arrested for possessing
offensive weapons and carrying a bladed instrument in
public. You'll be allowed one call when we get you to
Charing Cross police station.'

I felt confused and indignant. As we stood by the side
of the road, waiting for a police van to arrive, I
asked the constable whether this whole business was,
in his opinion, a valuable use of police time and
resources. This was when the policemen and the PCSOs
started to become hostile. ‘You've committed an
offence, mate, and you'd better get used to the fact
that you're going down for six months,' said one
policeman.

‘Do you realise, sir,' said another, ‘that behind us
is the Ministry of Defence, a key target for potential
terrorists?'

‘But why did you stop me in the first place: do I
seriously look like a potential terrorist?' I asked.

‘We stop one in every 25 cars on a random basis, and,
let me tell you, sir, criminals and terrorists come in
many different guises,' replied the policeman.

‘Shouldn't you be concentrating on men of Arab
extraction?' This seemed to me to be a sensible
question, relevant to the current state of the world.
The policeman said, ‘That is a racist comment, sir.'
Then the van appeared. I was locked in the back and
ferried to Charing Cross. As we drove there, the
policemen made small talk. They told me that they
would be out for a pint tonight, whereas I was going
to prison. They wondered what it would feel like for
me not to be sleeping in my own bed.

Upon arrival at Charing Cross, I was subjected to the
as-seen-on-TV rigmarole of being booked in by the desk
sergeant. Most of the questions focused on my racial
origin and HIV status. They asked if I had a craving
for non-prescription drugs, and if I required any
religious paraphernalia. My belt and personal effects
were removed, and after a statutory telephone call to
my lawyer I was ‘banged up'.

By this time it was about 12.20 and I spent the next
three hours dozing on a wooden bench. At about 4.30
p.m., my solicitor had arrived and it was time for an
‘interview under caution'. First, I had to be
fingerprinted. The police constable who had originally
flagged me down reappeared, and began the arduous
business of ‘processing' me. The man's lack of
competence was comical. He had problems applying my
fingers to what appeared to be a sophisticated and
expensive fingerprint-scanning machine, and with each
failed attempt he became angrier and angrier. Tired
and fed up, I gave in to the temptation to needle him.
‘Having problems with your new toy?' I asked. He
replied, ‘Shut the **** up, you arsehole.'

He was no better at operating the tape recorder used
for my interview. Much fumbling of cassettes was
followed by screeching noises from the equipment.
During the interview itself, I found him inarticulate,
incompetent and only tenuously in control of his
temper.

After the interview, I was re-introduced to my cell. I
understood from my solicitor that the same police
constable would speak to the Crown Prosecution
Service, and a decision would be made about whether to
charge me formally. I was also told that if the
policeman had wanted to, he could have let me off with
a caution after my car had been searched and the
penknife and baton discovered.

Sitting in my cell, I thought a bit about the way I
had been treated. For the police to be behaving like
this at a time when we are all concerned about
terrorism and street crime, and when resources are
stretched and manpower is limited, seemed
extraordinary. It was also, I decided, in direct
contrast to the qualities of professionalism,
endurance and discipline that are the hallmark of
Britain's armed forces. I have (now long outdated)
personal experience of two training establishments,
the old Guards' Depot at Pirbright and the Royal
Military Academy at Sandhurst, both of which are
successful in creating tough but professional men who
are in control of their actions and able to make
sensible decisions under pressure. Whether on the
streets of Belfast, in the mountains of Bosnia or in
the deserts of Iraq, lieutenants and second
lieutenants as young as 19 and 20 provide the linchpin
between senior officers and rank-and-file men on the
ground.

And this, I suspect, is the problem with the police —
they have no proper training and no officer corps. The
old adage goes ‘there is no such thing as bad
soldiers, only bad officers'. The scruffy, overweight,
badly turned-out, ill-mannered policemen I encountered
at Charing Cross police station were desperately in
need of decent leadership.

So I was not surprised when I was brought back before
the desk sergeant and told that the CPS had made the
decision to go ahead and charge me with possessing an
offensive weapon and carrying a bladed instrument in
public. I was bailed to appear at Bow Street
magistrates' court and informed that I was free to
leave.

As I was about to pass through the door to freedom, I
am ashamed to say that I snapped. The knowledge that
we could, so easily, have avoided the whole drawn-out,
expensive and upsetting procedure was too much for me.
I turned to the police constable and said, ‘You really
are a prize ******.' At this point, and in full view
of my solicitor, he lost it. He grabbed my lapels, and
pushed me up against the wall. My solicitor yelled,
‘You have just assaulted my client!'

Four other police officers rushed into the corridor,
accompanied by the desk sergeant. ‘Right, rearrest
him: public order, breach of the peace,' shouted the
sergeant at me. ‘You'll be spending the night here.'
My solicitor said that she wanted the assault entered
in the daybook, and that we would be bringing an
action. So they let me go.

In the aftermath of my experience, I started some
purely anecdotal research on the type of behaviour and
attitude displayed by the police towards me. In
speaking to friends, acquaintances, tradesmen, cab
drivers and people in the pub I rapidly came to
realise that a quite staggering number of ordinary,
law-abiding people had endured similar experiences.

It is worth remembering how new these powers are. It
is only since the Terrorism Act of 2000 that the new
community support officers, in the company of a
constable, have been allowed to stop and search a car;
and that is by no means all they can do. After a mere
three weeks' training, a CSO can give you a £30 fixed
penalty ticket for such minor derelictions as riding
your bike on a pavement, or dropping a crisps packet.
He or she may take away your booze if you are drinking
in public, or confiscate the fags of an underage
smoker. These CSOs may detain you by force for 30
minutes, pending the arrival of a police officer, if
they think you may be guilty of an arrestable offence.
And who can doubt that they will soon be able to
demand the production of an ID card, and detain you if
you fail to produce it?

And on it goes. Last week Parliament passed the new
Civil Contingencies Act, which gives the government
astonishing powers to declare and prolong a state of
emergency sine die. This week Her Majesty announced in
the Gracious Address that there is to be a new
Counter-Terrorism Bill, and among its provisions are
rumoured to be judge-only Diplock courts for terrorist
suspects.

Such measures are surely only justified in a society
at war, and they might be acceptable if we were truly
a nation under siege. But that is not how it feels to
most of us. We have a terrorist threat to London and
elsewhere, a chronic and worrying problem; but that
does not amount to a war, any more than the IRA
bombing campaigns of the 1970s did, and yet we are
enacting measures more repressive than those applied
in the Blitz.

By the way, once I had been sprung from the police
station, I walked back to the Embankment, where my car
had been left since the arrest. It was, by this time,
6.45 in the evening and, sure enough, there on my
windscreen was a Metropolitan Police parking ticket.
One further thing — I have just found out from my
solicitor that the copy of the interview tape sent to
us by the police is entirely blank.

Nicky Samengo-Turner, formerly an investment banker,
now works in the Formula 1 motor-racing industry. The
Metropolitan Police said, ‘This matter is currently
sub judice and as such it would be inappropriate for
us to comment on any of the information in the
article.'
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 06:30 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
elyob
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Posts: 14
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

Got about 25% through ... and then was bored .. anyone else?



  #3 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 06:54 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
John Goldfine
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Posts: 1
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London


"elyob" wrote in message
.uk...
Got about 25% through ... and then was bored .. anyone else?


No, I thought the post was interesting and on-topic for walkers, cyclists,
climbers, campers, hostellers, and this newsgroup. Swiss Army Knives are
pretty innocuous and a standard part of many outdoor kits and gear bags.

When it became impossible to carry a knife through airport security with my
bags, I began buying cheap knives in the UK for my walking trips and leaving
them behind as part of my chambermaid's tip my last night in London.

Knowing that new laws put me at risk for major hassles will certainly keep
me from doing that again--and, so, I suppose, one more potential
mugger/terrrorist/homicidal maniac is dissuaded from a life of crime by his
law-abiding ways. Nor will I attempt to hunt a fox with hounds.


  #4 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 06:57 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
footman
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Posts: 2
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

what did you find boring?
"elyob" wrote in message
.uk...
Got about 25% through ... and then was bored .. anyone else?





  #5 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 06:58 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
Tony Raven
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Posts: 5
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

Bill_Pertwee wrote:



Thank goodness they didn't find your sonic screwdriver ;-)

Tony
  #6 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 07:09 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
Dave Fawthrop
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,941
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

On 28 Nov 2004 09:37:46 -0800, (Bill_Pertwee)
wrote:

Perhaps you should become a full time fiction writer.

--
Dave Fawthrop dave hyphenologist co uk
Killfile and Anti Troll FAQs at
http://www.hyphenologist.co.uk/killfile.
  #7 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 07:24 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
John Spencer-Mallory
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Posts: 4
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

"Bill_Pertwee" wrote in message



'We are conducting random stop and search under
current anti-terrorist legislation,' began the
constable, addressing me through my open side window.


Don't open you window and keep the door s locked as you ar4 perfectly
entitled to do unless the officer can produce a search warrant


'Would you mind if we searched your vehicle? We're
training these new community support officers.'


Say "yes I do mind...I want independent witnesses of my choice NOW"

I unlocked the doors and they went through my car


Bad mistake.....

Refuse all except you name, rank "human being" and number....anything, but
you national insurance number with the letters converted to numbers really
****es them off....they just aren't intelligent enough to work out what
you're saying.

stick to name rank and number.....if they arrest you then say NOTHING except
name rank and number.

Also when they bang you up start banging your head against the wall as that
you draw blood. That really gets them going 'cos as soon as a medic sees you
you tell them you've been attacked etc. All good for a laugh and providing
you haven't actually broken the law you can make quite a lot of money out of
the subsequent stories and court cases.

BUT REMEMBER....only name rank and number NOTHING ELSE...not even a comment,
or a yes or no. Don't eat or drink NOTHIN

I KNOW...I was trained to resist interrogation on a far 'heavier' scale than
the noddy's in this country will ever use...




--
John S-Mallory

Here's a toast to the dead already,
And here's to the next man to die.

http://j.s-m.fotopic.net


  #8 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 07:26 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
John Spencer-Mallory
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Posts: 4
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London


"Dave Fawthrop" wrote in message
...
On 28 Nov 2004 09:37:46 -0800, (Bill_Pertwee)
wrote:

Perhaps you should become a full time fiction writer.

--
Dave Fawthrop dave hyphenologist co uk
Killfile and Anti Troll FAQs at
http://www.hyphenologist.co.uk/killfile.


Perhaps you should join the real world

--
John S-M

Here's a toast to the dead already,
And here's to the next man to die.

http://j.s-m.fotopic.net


  #9 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 07:49 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
David Hansen
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Posts: 26
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London

On 28 Nov 2004 09:37:46 -0800 someone who may be
(Bill_Pertwee) quoted this:-

http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php?id=5308

The community support officers reacted immediately.
They behaved as if they had never seen a penknife
before, pulling out the bottle-opener, the corkscrew,
the thing that gets stones out of horses' hooves.
‘This device has a locking blade,' said the constable,
after which a short, whispered debate ensued.


I have a Swiss Army Knife and a multi-tool in my tool bag which
travels with me most of the time. Both are very useful, as are the
much larger knives I have.

‘Do you realise, sir,' said another, ‘that behind us
is the Ministry of Defence, a key target for potential
terrorists?'


And these terrorists are going to attack it with a Swiss Army Knife?
Pull the other one.

‘We stop one in every 25 cars on a random basis


Then the cretin doesn't understand what random means.

During the interview itself, I found him inarticulate,
incompetent and only tenuously in control of his
temper.


That seems to be typical in London.

And this, I suspect, is the problem with the police —
they have no proper training


Actually they have a fair bit if initial training and after that
training for (some) specific tasks.

and no officer corps.


This observation has been made before, but attempts to introduce it
always produce discontent in the ranks that stifle it. Instead the
police are stuck in the idea of "working up through the ranks",
something abandoned in the "real world" a long time ago.

In the aftermath of my experience, I started some
purely anecdotal research on the type of behaviour and
attitude displayed by the police towards me. In
speaking to friends, acquaintances, tradesmen, cab
drivers and people in the pub I rapidly came to
realise that a quite staggering number of ordinary,
law-abiding people had endured similar experiences.


The police need to raise their game a long way. However, they are in
denial.


--
David Hansen, Edinburgh | PGP email preferred-key number F566DA0E
I will always explain revoked keys, unless the UK government
prevents me by using the RIP Act 2000.
  #10 (permalink)  
Old November 28th 04, 07:50 PM posted to uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.camping,uk.rec.cycling,uk.rec.youth-hostel,uk.rec.walking
RJ Webb[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2
Default Swiss Army Knives now banned by Metropolitan Police London


Knowing that new laws put me at risk for major hassles will certainly keep
me from doing that again--and, so, I suppose, one more potential
mugger/terrrorist/homicidal maniac is dissuaded from a life of crime by his
law-abiding ways. Nor will I attempt to hunt a fox with hounds.




How long before one of Blunkett (spit) 's wee jobsworths finds us with
an ice axe in our car ?


Sorry Plod.. I will not stop carrying "the tools of my trade" with
me... Better get used to the paperwork..

Richard Webb
 



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