Skip to content or view screen version

A true story of everyday life for Nottingham town folk

Gulliver | 11.03.2007 21:35 | Free Spaces | Repression

The scene: a typical Saturday afternoon in the market square Nottingham. A member of the public is taking photographs and decides to take some of the City’s Community Protection Officers.

One officer rushes over to the member of the public, taking off his hat on the way and using it to hide his face from the camera.

The following exchanges ensue: -

Community Protection Officer: “Why did you just take my photograph?”

Member of Public: “I just wanted to”.

CPO: “ Well you are not allowed to photograph people without their permission”

MOP: “Yes I am”

CPO: “ No you’re not”

MOP: “Yes I am. What’s to stop me?”

CPO: “Its not legal”

MOP: “Yes it is”

CPO: “No its not”
(sorry dear Reader if this get a bit repetitious but at least you have to chance to wander off elsewhere if you get bored. It actually went on for a lot longer than this).

MOP: “Under what powers am I barred from taking your photograph. If there are any then these two CCTV cameras that are watching us are in breach of them.”

CPO: OK I’ll have your name and address then”

MOP: “ No you won’t”

CPO: “Yes you will”
(here we go again folks)

MOP: “ No I won’t”

CPO: “Yes you will, you have to”

MOP: “ No I don’t. What makes you think I have to give you my details”

CPO: “Because I’m authorised” and points to logo on front of hi-vis jacket.

MOP: “ No that’s not good enough, under what powers can you demand my details?”

CPO: draws laminated card from equipment bag, refers to it and says “ Under these here”

MOP: looks at card, which has a Notts Police logo above a list a list of offences.

MOP: “Nope, none of those apply”

CPO: “Look if you don’t give me your details I’ll summon a police office and you’ll have to give him your details or he’ll arrest you”

MOP: “Er, I suggest you summon the police officer then”

CPO “Right, I will” and proceeds to dial on his mobile phone.

MOP carries on with his activities while CPO makes phone call. Five minutes pass by with no sign of police officer or indeed of CPO getting through on the phone.

CPO: “ I’m having trouble getting a line at the moment”

MOP: “Take your time, I’m not going anywhere. Good job you're not in a risky situation though isn’t it?”

CPO wanders off and after a few moment returns with a Police Support Officer (these get to dress more like a proper copper).

PSO to MOP: “Could you step over here sir so I can talk to you”

We all move to a quiet corner beside one of the lions.

PSO: “ Now, you have taken photographs of my colleague when you shouldn’t and refused to give your details”

MOP: “ and….?”

PSO: “You must give me your details”

MOP, thinking, here we go again “No I mustn’t.”

PSO: “Yes you must, it is an offence not to give me you details”

MOP: “Under what powers do you think I have to give my details”

PSO: brandishing his laminated card “under these and if you don’t I’ll summon the police and you will have to give them your details or they will arrest you”

MOP: “look we’ve been over all this. If the police do come I doubt they’ll arrest me because they know they have no just reason to do so. Just to help the situation here let me make a clear statement: Under no circumstances am I going to give you my details. I will step aside now so you can talk to you colleague about what you are going to do next.”

MOP moves away a few yards so PSO and CPO can talk in private.
After a few minutes CPO approaches MOP.

CPO: “Right I’m going to issue you with a formal written warning and if you cause trouble again I will issue you with an £80 fixed penalty notice.”

MOP: “OK, get writing then”

CPO realising he can’t issue a formal warning because he does not have MOP’s details, beats a retreat to the sounds of the MOP calling after him, “is the community safer now you’ve just spent 45 minutes of your shift harassing someone because you have not been properly trained?”

Conclusion: it would seem that there is a need to make sure the people of Nottingham are properly informed of their rights, the law relating to public places and the powers of these pseudo ‘officers’. It is proposed that this is taken forward, especially as the petty authoritarians are going to be under greater pressure to protect the nice new market square the council have just built for their own self-promotion.



various shades of half-constables ......

12.03.2007 21:11

Over time, Nottingham, in common with other cities, have been through various officers with labels, to describe them, mostly stressing their 'protection' and 'community' credentials.

They were invented from conservative ideas from the mid-1980's when Douglas Hurd, [bless him], went off about the fact that people should stop whinging, and become 'active citizens' in their communities. Many of us think that we are already one of those, and don't need a uniform to show it. I am inexorably reminded of the maxim that anyone who wants to wear a uniform should be forbidden from doing so.

Street Wardens
Neighbourhoods Wardens
City Centre Wardens,

Have now all been replaced by the new and accredited [much shinier]

Community Protection Officers CPO's [Jointly funded by Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire Police] & Police Community Support Officers PCSO's [Under management of Nottinghamshire Police].

Nottinghamshire Police - Police community support officers (PCSOs)

Nottinghamshire Police - List of PCSO designated powers (pdf, 23kb)

In preparing this montage, I was struck by the range of colour schemes that these various species come in. Confusing innit.

a notts photo person