Police try to pin absurd charges on student


4:12 pm - December 23rd 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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A few days ago Bristol student protester Paul Saville had his house raided by the police.

Bristol Indymedia reported:

At 5am on Saturday 18th December the home of UWE Student and Anti-cuts & Fees campaigner Paul Saville was raided by police. He was arrested on suspicion of affray and conspiracy to commit affray.

Paul, who was involved in the recent UWE occupation was held for 12 hours. His computer, mobile phone and note books have all been seized.

It now turns out the police had little real evidence to raid Mr Saville’s house and seize his possessions.

He writes about the ordeal on his blog:

I was detained for 12 hours in cell number 9 at trinity road police station, Bristol. After repeated requests to a solicitor I was refused, I was told I would see a solicitor when I was interviewed. I asked for a pen and paper. A pen and paper never came. Out of the three meals I sould have been offered during my detention, I only recieved one meal. After requesting a blanket as the cell I was in was so cold, I was refused, as I had already got one. I also requested to make my phone call, I never got this either.

All of the above apart from the blanket are my LEGAL RIGHT and recieved none of them.

Even worse was the attempt to pin charges on him:

After being in the cell for nearly 10hours, I was finally interviewed by two police officers: two dectives from the serious crime squad. They showed me a video that includes me stroking a police horse at the front of a police kettle and then suddenly a firework goes towards the police. firstly, they asked me whether it was me in the video. Of course I said it was me, as i have nothing to hide.

They tried to pin this on me! they tried to say that it was me that threw the firework, which I quickly denied, of course this was not me! after watching the video shown to me in the interview which was taken from BBC Bristol, I was quick to point out “how could I have thrown a firework if with one hand I am stroking a police horse” Of course, it is obviously impossible to light a firework and throw it with one hand.

Mr Saville was eventually released on bail and due to make an appearance at the local police station on the 26th of January.

Read his full blog post here / via @marmite_)

Last year Bristol police arrested and locked Paul Saville in a cell for two hours simply for writing on a pavement “Liberty. The right to question it. The right to ask: ‘Are we free?’.”

He was eventually released, but was forced to give DNA samples.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Police don’t tend to do 5am arrests on a whim, due to costs, overtime etc.

To get the warrant AND do an early morning raid they must have some concrete evidence such as cctv.

@2 It’s probably best not to assume that if the police do something, there must be *some* justification. That’s the line of thinking that caused the BBC journalist to repeatedly ask Jody McIntyre if he had provoked police violence.

Just considering the logistics of it, it *is* possible to light and throw a firework with one hand. Just.

I bet he didn’t, though.

If they had proper evidence why didnt’ they produce it when they questioned him? (though I accept we only have one side of the story here)

Not that I have a huge amount of faith in our judges (#IAmSpartacus) but hopefully, HOPEFULLY this’ll get thrown out of court and the idiots wasting resources on this stuff will get their comeuppance…

What? I can dream.

You’re not dreaming. If this can be construed as repeated harassment he can sue the Police and win. it has been done before. Takes a long time tho.

If you thought that someone had thrown a firework at *you*, wouldn’t *you* want the police to take it seriously? Wouldn’t *you* want them to be locked up until the facts could be established?

Furthermore, wouldn’t you acknowledge that both yourself and the police might make a mistake and accuse the wrong person? And that police action would still be justified, even in view of the possibility of such mistakes, because of the vastly worse possibility that firework-throwers would otherwise go unchallenged?

Mr Saville accuses the police of breaking the law by not bringing him food and a solicitor, but I suspect that they probably stuck to the letter of the law quite scrupulously, knowing how damaging a (justified) complaint would be. Particularly when the accused is a criminology student who has made something of a career out of looking for trouble (e.g. continuing to draw on a pavement even after being told to stop by the police).

Vladimir: Wouldn’t *you* want them to be locked up until the facts could be established?

So the police have a vague suspicion, backed up by no proper evidence, and that’s reason enough for the police to raid your house at 5am and take your possessions?

What planet do you live on? Is Stalin still ruling there?

@2

I don’t see issue with jodys questioning. it is a valid question, and one which the answer from jody could show police brutality. But obv the BBC can’t seem to ask this outright, without asking what everyone watching wanted asking.

@4

Yes sunny we only have one side. Could blogging this damage his defence at all?

I have police friends, which is why I raised the dawn raid. Despite how some will see it, police don’t use it for kicks, or the preferred method of arrest. Which leads to the question of evidence that they have.

Did they arrest anyone else in connection with the firework at the same time?

7 – having had fireworks thrown at me on multiple occasions, it might surprise you to learn that the police aren’t really bothered about following such things up as a general rule.

Funny, that.

Anyway, if the police had seen who had thrown the firework, they’d have personal testimony to that fact, which would be, if not *quite* good enough (conflict of interest, and all that), a decent starting point.

From here, it looks like they don’t know who threw it and are trying to pin it on whoever they can.

The police are under huge pressure from their corporate masters to kick the shit out of these protestors. (Through the court system that is) The corporate elites want to discourage public protest. I mean where will it all end? So these hapless students must be made an example of.

Funny it never works like that with white collar crime,, can’t for the life of me think why.

Not good to make judgments about “the Police” or “protesters”. Just look at the case. Remembering the frightening logic from the judge who stopped the previous chalking case against this guy it looks like the Policeman involved has taken it all a bit personally, hence a case for harassment should this latest charge wash away like the chalk did.

It’s rather hard to give much credibility to a “student” who is so obviously barely literate.

The Police have to make a mends to their corporate masters for letting Prince Charles’s car get attacked. The elites did not take kindly to that. And the police must show their masters that they are putting things right.

Particularly when the accused is a criminology student who has made something of a career out of looking for trouble (e.g. continuing to draw on a pavement even after being told to stop by the police).

This is quite hideous. The man drew on the pavement with chalk. It does rather look like he is being harrassed by the police. And the police are completely wasting their resources.

@10. Exactly. Throwing fireworks is a serious matter – attempted murder, basically. The police should treat it very, very seriously. Anyone throwing a lit firework should expect to spend a brief period at a police station, followed by a rather longer period in prison.

The selective enforcement annoys me too. Why enforce this law against a leftie protester but not against a group of chavs? (I assume that “chavs” is an adequate description of the people who threw fireworks at you, since these are (a) the people who usually throw fireworks “for a laugh”, and (b) the people who most often escape punishment on account of being “disadvantaged” – unlike, say, a sociology and criminology student at UWE.)

@8. No, my planet is ruled by people like you, as you well know, although for some reason you always appear to forget that. Always the revolutionary, never the Establishment. Anyway, you said, “I accept we only have one side of the story here”, which is exactly my point. Clearly the police had some reason to get him out of bed at 5am. Perhaps it was mistaken. But, given the serious nature of the crime (attempted murder, as I said), I don’t think it’s unreasonable to cover all the bases. Do you?

@15. If the police tell you not to do something, and *while they are still standing in front of you*, you carry on, then you really shouldn’t be surprised if they arrest you. What else would you do, if you were a policeman?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5017444/Student-facing-trial-over-writing-on-pavement-in-chalk.html
Significantly, Mr Saville accepted they were right to arrest him and that he was guilty of a crime, because he accepted a caution. Had he believed they were wrong, he would have insisted on a court appearance. (Being a criminology student, he would surely be aware of the legal significance of a caution.)

@17 – what the hell are you talking about? The charges were dropped because the CPS realised they were ridiculous.

“No, my planet is ruled by people like you, as you well know, although for some reason you always appear to forget that. Always the revolutionary, never the Establishment.”

Troll thinks he is Clint Eastwood.

@18. No, you are incorrect. Quoting from the article.
“””He wrote on a pavement: “Liberty. The right to question it. The right to ask: “Are we free?” He claimed that a short time later four policemen approached him and asked him to stop. He said ***he wrote one more letter and was then arrested***.

“””He says he was taken to the nearest police station in a van. He was then photographed, fingerprinted, forced to give DNA samples and kept in a cell for more than two hours.

“””Police also examined photographs on his digital camera ***before releasing him under caution***, he said.”””

Fact 1. He was initially arrested after being asked to stop, and continuing.
Fact 2. He accepted a caution, thus accepting that he was guilty of an offence, and was then released.

@16 – no, they were just people. Sticking them into a ‘chav’ outgroup is a really quick and easy way of pretending that they’re nothing like me or you, when in fact, the differences are minimal.

*shrug*.

Attempted murder it isn’t – since AIUI ‘murder’, it needs to be a premediated attempt to kill. Throwing fireworks at people is more ‘for the lulz’, at we’d say on the internet. No real consideration of the possible consequences.

But, damn, they are loud. And dangerous. And anyone who throws one should end up facing significant consequences – but really, the time to act is *when* the fireworks are being thrown, not days or weeks later.

@21. I don’t agree. You say “the differences are minimal”, but I don’t see how you can say that. How many people have you thrown fireworks at? How often do you do something seriously irresponsible – and potentially very harmful to others – just “for the lulz”?

No doubt, we are genetically almost identical to the people who threw the fireworks at you. But genetics are not the sum total of existence. Choices are important too. We *choose* not to behave as they do, and that makes all the difference.

You really do not need to make excuses for these people. They are not chavs because of where they were born or how much money they have – they are chavs because they choose to throw fireworks at people “for the lulz”. You shouldn’t feel obliged to shrug off such behaviour as unimportant – rather, you should be angry at the police for failing to take it seriously, and angry at society for excusing it.

You don’t want me to enumerate the list of awful things I did growing up. No, it doesn’t include fireworks. But yes, it does include charming things like arson, taking offensive weapons into school (and very nearly using them), etc.

The main thing that made me take the direction I took that eventually led to me becoming a productive member of society, and to them staying more or less unchanged, was probably because I was /their/ outgroup, and their constant persecution led me to hate them (and by extension, everything they stood for).

I’m not better or more special than them – not really. And neither are you. They are, to a great extent, the product of their environment; just like the rest of us. It doesn’t absolve them of responsibility, of course, but it’d be nice to think we could move beyond ‘lock the scum up for attempted murder’ when we come to looking at solutions.

Anyway, this was before the ‘chav’ label became popular and convenient – so assigning them, post-hoc, to a derided subculture (the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, and there solely because they happen to wear burberry and speak with a less-than-RP accent) really doesn’t strike me as constructive.

*shrug*

Paul Saville can count himself fortunate compared with this early morning arrest:

“Three Sussex officers avoid prosecution over fatal operation and subsequent cover-up which was damned by two separate inquiries

“In a small Sussex seaside town, at 20 past four in the morning, James Ashley was sleeping naked in his bed. Seconds later, he was on the floor, shot dead at a range of 18ins, by a police officer using a powerful Heckler & Koch carbine.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/secrets-lies-and-.htmlit-after-police-shoot-naked-man-in-bed-685719.html

So far, I have seen nothing to tell me whether or not the charges were absurd. There is an argument that they were implausible (he was seen stroking a police horse) but that only takes one hand and it is quite difficult to use more than one hand to throw anything (including a firework). Of course the police may have been mistaken But sunny does not even provide any evidence in support of that except Mr Saville’s denial (which naturally post-dates his arrest).
Any chance of some facts on this case?

26. Bristol student.

http://criminalchalkist.blogspot.com/2010/12/video-of-incident-student-protest.html

here is a link to the video shown on bbc bristol and also used in the interview of paul saville.

Shame on the police.

@23. You write “They are, to a great extent, the product of their environment; just like the rest of us. It doesn’t absolve them of responsibility, of course, but it’d be nice to think we could move beyond ‘lock the scum up for attempted murder’ when we come to looking at solutions.”

I sympathise with the problems you have personally suffered. (Really… I am human!) But if you believe that their actions are caused by their environment, then you must also acknowledge that there is something wrong with their environment, because it is producing people who behave anti-socially.

Now, consider this. Could the problem be related in any way to the police failing to take the firework-based attack on you seriously? Maybe the problem with the environment is that anti-social behaviour is tolerated and excused instead of being dealt with appropriately.

Furthermore, might this observation extend to the sort of thing you clearly experienced in school, where the authorities also failed to act against the bullying you suffered, and thus forced you to “take matters into your own hands”?

I suggest that all of these things are related, and that they stem from a change in the approach taken by society in dealing with anti-social behaviour of all sorts. This change is neatly summarised by your own view that there is now nothing particularly abnormal about throwing fireworks at people. Well, there is something abnormal about it, just like there’s something abnormal about rape, murder and domestic violence. People who do these things should, at the very least, be locked up for the good of everyone else, regardless of whether their actions are purely a reaction to their environment, or whether (as I believe) they have free will and need to be encouraged to make better decisions.

28. astateofdenmark

You have no right to a phone call, though the police will normally let you make one. Too much american TV (I want my call) gives people the impression you do have the right.

PACE Act 1984 gives 3 rights:

To speak to a solicitor, in person or on the phone.
To have someone ‘informed’ of your arrest.
To view a copy of the PACE codes of practice.

Hope this helps.

27 – like I said, being the product of their environment doesn’t absolve them of individual responsibility for their actions. Especially their criminal actions. I don’t think we’re disagreeing on this.

I also requested to make my phone call, I never got this either

He’s clearly been watching too much telly. The right to a phonecall thing is U.S. not U.K. law… some criminology student.

@ 4

If they had proper evidence why didnt’ they produce it when they questioned him?

I thought that you’d have understood this by now Sunny, what with the Assange thing and all. The Police don’t tell you the evidence they have against you until they press charges, otherwise you’d have lots of opportunity to concoct alibis and dream up new evidence. Once charges are pressed, you or your legal team get the details as, after this point the police aren’t allowed to do any more investigating themselves. It’s quite simple really.

Hmm, no, you can’t say both that someone’s actions are their personal responsibility *and* the product of their environment. These things are mutually exclusive. You can’t have a bit of free will – you either have it, or you don’t. You are either to blame for the choices you make, or not. But perhaps that’s not what you mean by “product of their environment”. I am certainly no sociologist or criminologist. Perhaps if I were, I would be able to understand how someone can both be personally responsible and at the same time not responsible for their actions.

However, never mind. This is important, but off topic. The on topic point I wish to make is that the police should take all firework-throwers very seriously, regardless of whether they are political protesters or just a group of children. It doesn’t surprise me that “the police aren’t really bothered about following such things up as a general rule”, but it *shouldn’t* be that way. This is a *problem* with the police. Their treatment of Mr Saville should be typical rather than exceptional.

its CHALK mate get a grip

🙂

I agree with your on-topic point entirely. Your off-topic point is an interesting example of self-imposed limits.

Of course I can believe that someone is both a product of their environment, and should take full personal responsibility for their actions. Hard-core determinists do it all the time (although I’m not one of those, mostly for semantic reasons and am-i-bovvered-you-silly-philosopher reasons 😉 ).

Putting it briefly, the choice to behave in such a manner is entirely theirs, but the environment they grew up in facilitated – and even encouraged – such behaviour; so it doesn’t surprise me when they end up as they do.

We have to punish them for it – and we’re certainly not tough enough at the moment – but we also have to tackle the environmental causes if we actually want to reduce, rather than mask, the problem.

@33..35. But that’s only part of the story. See my comment, number 20. On the first occasion – January 15th – Mr Saville was told to stop writing by police, ignored this instruction, was then arrested, and accepted a police caution. That’s what the Telegraph says, and that’s what I’m talking about. In what way am I mistaken?

@36. It seems we do actually agree! 🙂

Like the Policeman you are mistaken to be going on about chalk as a method of vandalism as it has a serious design fault. The evidence washes away.

*Sigh*

It doesn’t matter whether he was using chalk, spray paint, permanent marker or an acetylene torch on January 15th. He was asked to stop writing by the police, and in defiance of them, he continued. What did he expect them to do? Walk away?

Of course it matters.

spray paint= criminal damage
permanent marker= criminal damage
acetylene torch= criminal damage
chalk= its going to wash away.

Do you always do everything you are told regardless?

Heh. It’s always good to agree…

As for writing on the pavement – the police can (and often do) interpret the law incorrectly, and I’m always happy to disobey a policeman if I think he’s wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised to be arrested for such a thing, though – but I wouldn’t accept a caution if I thought the policeman were wrong, I’d fight it to the bitter end.

Worked example: taking photographs in london?

That really isn’t the point.

You’re saying that the police were wrong to tell him to stop. Fine, maybe you are right about that. But that **really** isn’t the point.

If you disagree with the police about a legal matter, such as your right to write things on a pavement, then the usual procedure is civil disobedience. They tell you to stop, you carry on anyway, then they arrest you. Sounds like Mr Saville, yes?

But then, **whatever you do**, you never, ever say that they were right to arrest you. You never plead guilty. You insist at all times that you have done nothing wrong. You demand your day in court. Does this still sound like Mr Saville?

That would be Mr Saville, who accepted a police caution on the 15th of January for drawing on the pavement in chalk. Now, a police caution is a formal admission of guilt. It says, in layman’s terms, “The police were right to arrest me, I did commit an offence, and now I accept this official warning that I should not do it again.”

One more time: by accepting the caution, he officially admitted wrongdoing and accepted that the police were right to arrest him, because that is what a caution means.

The fact that Mr Saville later repeated his actions, was arrested again, and this time *did* insist on a court appearance is irrelevant.

I hope this is clear to you now. If there are any factual errors in the above, then I am grateful to anyone pointing them out.

Paul Saville is clearly being victimised for his activism. The footage clearly shows he did not throw a firework. If the police continue to haras him there will be a response, I’m sure Mr Saville will get support if he wants to sue the police.

The article comes from an activists news site advocating readers to delete.anything.incriminating from their computers. Mr saville also admits covering his face at the incident.

I don’t see him as innocent as some would like us to believe.


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