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This is a question Petty Officials

Bob de Bilde says: A traffic warden threatened to call the police and have me arrested because "It's illegal to take photos in the street. You might be a paedophile". I was taking a picture of a funny street sign, over which I had no plans to masturbate. Tell us about petty officials talking bollocks.

(, Thu 27 Mar 2014, 15:05)
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"Hey! You!"
I was a fair distance away from Tesco when I heard the call from somewhere behind me. I looked over my shoulder, and could see that it was addressed to me. A PCSO was lumbering along the pavement.
"Of course you. Turn out your pockets."
"I was just in Tesco, and the security guard and I both saw you leave without paying."

It's true. I had left without paying, and was bang to rights on that front. I offered a defence. "They didn't have what I wanted. I didn't pay because I didn't take anything."

The PCSO took a moment to compute this. "But we both saw you leave."
"Yes. That's because I don't live there."
"But why did you have your hands in your pockets?"

Good lord. There was no way I was going to be able to answer that question clearly. I gave the only response I could. "Eh?"
"You had your hands in your pockets, and you left without paying. That's suspicious. So I want you to turn out your pockets."
"You do know I can arrest you for shoplifting, don't you?"
"You're a PCSO. No you can't. And even if you could, not buying something isn't an arrestable offence. To the best of my knowledge, it isn't an offence at all - even if you have your hands in your pockets."
"Then prove you didn't steal anything."
"I don't have to. It's up to you to show that something was stolen, and that there's a reasonable chance I stole it."
"Right. Stop playing games. I want your name and address."
"Resisting arrest is a serious matter..."
"Indeed it is," I had to agree.
"Well then."

This was getting nowhere; and though it was May, there was a chilly wind blowing. I was beginning to wish I'd worn a jacket. I could have been home by now had it not been for this pillock. There was a few seconds of silence.

"Listen: just do what I said. Or do you want me to radio for a car and have you arrested?"
"So you're suggesting that you're going to ask to have me arrested for having left a small supermarket with my hands in my pockets? I'm sure that that'll go down well..."

The PCSO began to look a little flustered. "Well, OK, then; but you have to give me your name and address."
"Really, I don't. But I'd like to take your name and number so that I can make a complaint." I had no such intention, of course. I didn't even have a pen on me.
"If you won't give me yours, I don't have to give you mine."
"We both know that that's not how it works. Now, name and number."

Another few seconds passed as the cogs turned in the PCSO's mind. The wind gusted again, and I suppressed a shiver.
"Oh, all right then," I offered, "let's call it quits." I started to walk away.
"Well... er... Don't do it again!" stammered the PCSO.

It really was unusually cold for the time of year.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 9:54, 28 replies)
I like this.
A lot. PCSOs are a waste of time, even if many of them do mean well.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:12, closed)
I'm inclined to agree.
It's hard to be properly indignant about someone who's essentially well-meaning but a bit thick.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:16, closed)
PCSO stands for Completely Pointless Dicks.

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:21, closed)
I use a pencil sharpener to keep mine pointy.
Completely Hopeless In Most Police Situations is the preferred acronym.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:28, closed)
It seems to be a complete lottery as to how giving people an infinitesimal amount of power will turn out.
I always saw the school prefect system as a way to test out the effects of nominal authority on people for profiling purposes, since the prefects at my school had no actual authority (other than ordering people around in the lunch queue). Most students coped with it pretty well but one guy went positively frothing at the mouth with power; even my form tutor referred to him as a "little Hitler".
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:32, closed)
One of them stopped a friend of mine in the street.
He tried to tell him off for wearing a t-shirt with "CUUUUUUUUUUUUUNT" written on it. That went well.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:42, closed)
A PCSO can require you to give your name and address, if they suspect you of having comitted an offence and
if they think there is evidence of a crime, detain you until a police officer can be called.

Refusing to comply with either of those is an offence, so you weren't completely correct.

Your task would have been to prove that they had no reasonable grounds to suspect you had committed an offence. If the PCSO and the store guy both said they thought you'd stolen something, even if they were proved to be wrong, there's pretty much zero chance you would win the argument.

They might be power tripping and/or being dickheads, but they do have some very limited powers to fuck with you if they want to.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:57, closed)
Ah, but PCSO admitted that they didn't see me take anything.
The sum total of the allegation was that I'd left the shop without handing over cash.

I mean, you're probably right about the calling an officer bit - but I wasn't going to let that get in the way of my righteous indignation!
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:08, closed)
Pretty sure their efforts to detain suspects can't go further than
"please stay here whilst I summon a real police officer," though.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:31, closed)
They can restrain you, but probably won't.
You are now committing an arrestable criminal offence yourself though, so you need to make yourself scarce before the real plod turn up.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 13:58, closed)
If only this had been in Florida
He would have had the right to shoot you in the back.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 13:25, closed)
"He was coming right at me... the long way round!"

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 15:18, closed)
As stupid as it gets
Coming back from lunch at work, a group of us found a long kitchen knife, covered in blood. It was just off the pavement in someone's front flowerbed, in a nice respectable area.

One of us rang up the local plod, thinking it could be evidence in a possible stabbing. After half an hour a PCSO turns up in a Ford KA asking where the knife is. We point to it, so he bends down and picks it up...
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 10:59, closed)
Actually, that's not such bad practice.
When it comes to taking prints, his could be seen and eliminated. Had he used a cloth or something, there's a chance he'd've removed others' prints.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:09, closed)
What if it was him that done it..
And that's what he WANTED to happen. Ha!
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:14, closed)
Or, he could have just left it there and put tape around the area to stop anyone else falling over it before the real police turn up.

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:15, closed)
If it was good practice, I imagine it was by accident.
He did then drop it again afterwards and call the proper plod.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 14:54, closed)

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:02, closed)
Which reminds me
Heading home from the pub one evening we had a brief encounter with two idiots, whereby one deliberately barged into a friend of ours who had stopped to light a fag. They walked off down a side street laughing and after some muttering, we went on our way. A little further down the road we met a corrale/dither/target (I'm not sure of the collective noun) of PCSOs.

They asked us if we'd seen anyone walking along the street and so we told them what had happened with the two idiots and where they'd gone.

The shortest PCSO, a 5-foot-nothing dumpy fellow said, in earnest tones "You should have hit him."

After a moment of surprised silence from his colleagues and our party, one of the other PCSOs (seeming somewhat more experienced) advised us that this wasn't in fact recommended, that we did the right thing and should perhaps head home. She herded her (presumably new) recruits on to continue their beat without any further public incitement.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 12:43, closed)
Ah wonderful
There is something beautiful about seeing an idiot copper in it's full glory. I think I'd have walked away from that one with a happy spring in my step.
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 12:47, closed)
I knew a plastic plod once
Him and a proper copper had to detain some thug, who came out fighting.
Seeing his mate being given a bit of a kicking, the PCSO decided to use his pepper spray.

"I hadn't taken account of windage" I think were his words.

Tears pouring out of his eyes he managed to call for backup. At the station he had to log the weapon discharge, which he put as a "misfire".
(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 16:07, closed)
alright, lift perv

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 18:17, closed)
alright office sex pest and rape suspect

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 19:49, closed)
Your rapal status is of no concern to me.
But what I dislike is your taking an ancient old story and posting it as something a mate told you happened to them. Where do you think you are? Please, just treat this place with a bit of respect, okay?
(, Sun 30 Mar 2014, 23:35, closed)
100% true
Well the chap certainly told it to me. This was about 15 years ago I suppose.

As for the validity of his statement, I can't vouch for that. He was the sort of person to become a PCSO though, so I doubt he'd be that interesting to make something up.
(, Mon 31 Mar 2014, 8:16, closed)
You should probably make it clear that you did have a frozen chicken down your pants.

(, Fri 28 Mar 2014, 18:17, closed)
That's a Paltry Offense.

(, Mon 31 Mar 2014, 17:04, closed)
and more than a little fowl

(, Tue 1 Apr 2014, 15:24, closed)

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