Police wasting time arresting local artist

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Monday 5 January 2009 12.09pm
Quite shocked at the news story about Reuben Powell being arrested.

It is one thing to be searched under the terrorism powers but another to then be arrested for possession of a knife. They have tried to dress it up as 'potential terrorist' to make their 4 officers look less like plonkers, but a stanley knife is not an instrument of terror. All artists sharpen pencils with them.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is reasonable for someone to have a knife with them in a public place if it is related to their religion or profession that they are undertaking.

Why was he arrested, why were witnesses blocked, why were the Safer Neighbourhood team not allowed to see him, why 5 hours and why pick an easy target and waste probably days of officer time when there are real criminals literally metres away if they would care to step into the estates.

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Monday 5 January 2009 12.38pm
This is an outrage! The standards of policing have fallen to a deplorable level where the slightest use of common sense appears to be beyond the most basic of policing tasks. The officers should be named and shamed and disciplined for their behaviour. Professional photographers have been complaining for the last few years at the heavy handedness shown by the police, in particular the use of terrorist legislation to prohibit legal behaviour. Please write to Simon Hughes thanking him for his intervention and ask him to go further and get a public apology from the chief constable to Reuben Powell. I don't pay my tax to support this style of bully-boy policing!
Monday 5 January 2009 1.29pm
Yes. I surmise that the artist reasonably disagreed with police telling him to stop painting and it escalated from there to an abuse of power. The police should be named and their boss should defend them in detail or apologize. Boris must act! Harrassment against innocent pursuits in daily life corrodes the temper of city life. People become wary and tetchy. The police could be an example of good temper.
Monday 5 January 2009 3.08pm
Colinio wrote:
Quite shocked at the news story about Reuben Powell being arrested.
It is one thing to be searched under the terrorism powers but another to then be arrested for possession of a knife. They have tried to dress it up as 'potential terrorist' to make their 4 officers look less like plonkers, but a stanley knife is not an instrument of terror. All artists sharpen pencils with them.
.

But then again if he had been 16 years old and said but i only carry a stanley knife to sharpen my pencils, i am sure we would feel it quite right for him to be arrested for possession. Maybe when out and about (as appose to in the studio) it might be prudent to carry a pencil sharpener or take spare pencils if this doen't get the right sort of point (i'm no artist) rather than a stanley knife.

Maybe a stanley knife is not a weapon of choice for a terrorist, but try telling a victim of knife crime that it isn't a weapon of terror.
Monday 5 January 2009 3.58pm
Coffee wrote:
Colinio wrote:
Quite shocked at the news story about Reuben Powell being arrested.
It is one thing to be searched under the terrorism powers but another to then be arrested for possession of a knife. They have tried to dress it up as 'potential terrorist' to make their 4 officers look less like plonkers, but a stanley knife is not an instrument of terror. All artists sharpen pencils with them.
.

But then again if he had been 16 years old and said but i only carry a stanley knife to sharpen my pencils, i am sure we would feel it quite right for him to be arrested for possession. Maybe when out and about (as appose to in the studio) it might be prudent to carry a pencil sharpener or take spare pencils if this doen't get the right sort of point (i'm no artist) rather than a stanley knife.

Maybe a stanley knife is not a weapon of choice for a terrorist, but try telling a victim of knife crime that it isn't a weapon of terror.


well...

regardless of age/gender/ethnicity/appearance he is a familiar artist who had proof of why he was there and witnesses;

pencil sharpeners don't work for artists, sounds daft but true...the pencils are too big; a blade allows you necessary different widths of colour

If the police say terrorism then it has a specific meaning, i.e. endangering multiple lives. Having a stanley knife could surely only do this in some bizarrely unusual scenarios (e.g. in a plane but then only if the cabin door was inexplicably open). The police are trying to muddy the waters here.

I sympathise with your sentiments about knife crime and cannot say I am objecting to a certain level of stop-and-search. What I object to here is he was then arrested on some trumped-up suggestion of terrosism.

What next - were his paints chemical warfare agents because they could get in someone's eyes?!
Monday 5 January 2009 4.00pm
I presume that you are just trolling Coffee? A sharp pen could be the weapon for a terrorist, let's stop people carrying pens. That's the whole point of having human beings as police. They are meant to use discretion in applying this particular law. A 16 year old may also have a reasonable excuse for having a Stanley knife on him (mending a bike outside his house, or going to his job as a carpenter's apprentice), it shouldn't be rocket science to work out what is terrorist potential and what is innocent? I don't think Police can claim that a known artist with examples of work on him and witnesses is a potential terrorist! Arrest should been the last resort and the matter should have been dealt with at the location. At the very most the police could have accompanied the man to his home address to check facts, they are there to serve us after all.

I'm not against stop & search, just the lack of training that this case indicates.
Monday 5 January 2009 8.07pm
Jerry wrote:
I presume that you are just trolling Coffee?

Why?

Im not sure what the definition of trolling is, but as a regular user of the forum I know that generally when someone calls you a troll it isn't meant nicely.

Anyway I don't think Im trolling. I whilst I think from the reported fact the artists experience was not a pleasant one and it certainly seems to have been a bit excessive. Once it was established that he a legitimate reason for having a knife he should have been polite apologized to and left to go about his work However you say that the police are human beings well human beings make mistakes - frequently. So why can't the police make what's lets face it actually a minor mistake with out our over reaction?

Also consider looking at it from another angle, suppose he had a been up to no good and went on to commit a crime. How would you feel knowing the police had let him go? Their explanation for doing so being well he said he was an artist and he seemed a nice guy so we didn't bother asking anything else. I think we would be rightly outraged

And finally please don't compare a stanley knife to a pen. Believe me being threatened with a knife is not the same as being threatened with a pen.
Monday 5 January 2009 10.01pm
I don't think you were trolling, Coffee. I also agree with you that police officers can make mistakes like anyone else - even apparently really dumb ones like this. I'm also wary about reaching conclusions about an incident without knowing how it looked to the police on the ground: often a reported story looks very different from different angles.

What bothers me, assuming the story is reported accurately, is that the police took so long to recognise the mistake, put it right and apologise. 5 hours in police detention - Lord knows how long it would have been if Simon Hughes had not intervened. Often, if the police feel challenged, they close ranks, refer the matter up the line to give themselves cover, do anything but concede that they messed up. When someone's liberty and the reputation of the local force are at stake, it would be nice to see the police being a bit more responsive.

And why on earth did they destroy the Stanley knife??
Monday 5 January 2009 11.10pm
The knife issue is a red herring.

The coppers didn't stop this chap from because they suspected him of carrying a knife. They stopped him because he was behaving in a manner they found "suspicious" (ie being engaged in his surroundings rather than acting as a passive consumer of 'product'). It is not a crime to take photos of the outside of buildings or building sites from a public street.

They didn't suspect him of terrorism, either, simply using Section 44 of the terrorism act as the easiest way in which to harass him (nb Does anyone know whether the whole of this neighbourhood is a permanently identified location in the sense of Section 44? It does seem that the normal rule of law seems to have been abandoned here).

They were simply a few stupid coppers who don't understand that they need the trust of the public to do their job properly.

It shouldn't matter whether Mr Powell is a publicly known artist, or a private individual attempting to make a private project. Would it be OK for the police to stop any of us from undertaking a private record of the way the neighbourhood changes over time?

Finally, why did the police obstruct the sightlines of the concerned citizens who wanted to check their actions. If they were doing no wrong, surely they'd have nothing to hide.

In addition to the public apology that has been demanded from the Met, I want a list of the things we can do in public without attracting the attention of these tin-pot Stasi.

If it weren't so cold outside, I'd wonder whether the Athenian approach might have some merit.
Tuesday 6 January 2009 12.30am
Oh dear, S44 is not a permanent fixture in that it needs to be renewed periodically, in practice however it always is renewed... so it might as well be permanent.

I'm not sure why you would conclude that they just used S44 to harass him. I would guess that they would suggest that he was suspected of being engaged in 'Hostile Reconnaissance". It's a preparatory act...

That said S44 doesn't really include much in the way of 'accountability' so it's use in connection with this incident isn't really a surprise.

I'd guess there's little chance of him getting much of an apology as the Met will simply say that the knife was an offensive weapon. It's also interesting to note that they did not return it to him.

For what it's worth you'd have hoped for a little more in the way of proportionality on the part of the officers involved.

But thanks to New Labour's obsession with statistics there's a whole generation of Police officers that don't know how to and are unwilling to use discretion or for that matter common sense.

He should of course complain and regardless of whatever the Met offers he should refuse to accept a 'Local Resolution'.
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