A couple of months ago, more out of curiosity than mischief, I made a formal complaint to the police about a video by a local muslim cleric that I believed constituted hate crime. I received a telephone call from Bethnal Green police to discuss the matter.
Ignoring for once my father’s advice many years ago never to accept invitations to police stations, I arrived and passed the time watching the police variously mock and threaten a young Brighton man who had had all his belongings confiscated and locked away by the previous duty officer. He complained he had only the clothes he was wearing (it was a very cold day), just jeans and a T shirt, while his money, phone, rail ticket and other essentials were in his coat and naturally he wanted them back.
Since the office had closed at three thirty that afternoon they couldn’t be accessed and no one had the key. It might have been funny but for the fact that the police were enjoying baiting this person. He kept complaining he ‘needed his shit’ to get home, and the duty sergeant threatened to ‘nick’ him if he didn’t stop using bad language. At that point I began recording the exchanges.
But I digress.
A little later I was called to my interview. I explained what I deemed to be offensive, mentioned that it was enough for me to claim I had been offended for a crime to have been committed and asked what was to be done about the offensive video, a link to which I had included in my original email complaint.
The interviewing constable, of two years experience, said that due to the risk of importing viruses that might endanger their system they had not been able to access the video. I asked him why could he not view it at home on his own computer and he told me it would have constituted some sort of breach of the rules. His explanation was so convoluted I realised he either didn’t know what he was talking about or was simply obstructing me. In other words, he didn’t want to know, and had probably been briefed to take this line.
I was at a loss for words at this point and realised that I, like the Brighton man, was being given the run around. I offered to show him the video on my phone but he declined to view it and suggested I allow a couple of officers to view it in my own home. I refused and left.
The Brighton man had disappeared from the waiting area by then and I asked a couple of civilians if they knew what had happened to him. No one could recall seeing anything. Perhaps he got his clothes after all, or perhaps he said ‘shit’ once too often and they had thrown him in the cells after all with a beating for the trouble he had caused. I wasn’t going to hang around to find out.
While setting this blog I searched for the video I had complained about but can find no trace of it now.
The video below illustrates what I was complaining about and could just as easily formed the basis for my original complaint. But will I go through all that again? Not bloody likely.