13 May 2009

Stopped by the police? Here's what to do

Shortly after taking snaps and video footage of Rotherhithe Tunnel the other day, I was stopped (under Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, no doubt) by the police, who asked me what I was doing.

Yes, yes, I know, it's awful and shocking and what have we come to and it's worse than Stalin's Russia. The coppers were following up a complaint by some idiot member of the public. (What evil plot did said idiot member of public think I was planning? Fly the tunnel into the Houses of Parliament? Flood it with radioactive custard?) Such paranoia - fostered by that ridiculous Met poster campaign, of course - depresses everyone except Jacqui Smith. It's on the rise and yet, of course, it has never resulted in a single arrest of a terrorist.

But that's not what this post is about. It's to suggest a reliable way of dealing with the being-stopped thing.

The officers who stopped me were perfectly polite, a bit apologetic, and a bit bored. They don't want to be wasting their time on harmless nutters on bikes taking photos of tiled walls. They want to be doing what they joined the force to do: sit in a car and do the Mail crossword with a BK Flamer.

And my instinctive reaction proved effective for getting rid of them.

Yes, officer, I have been taking pictures. Certainly, no problem, here they are.
Here's an interesting one. See that road sign? Ha ha ha ha ha it doesn't conform to Statutory Instruments 2002 No. 3113!
I've lots more on this other memory card. There are some particularly interesting ones of mistakes in signage for contraflow cycle lanes. Would you like to s...?
Oh, well maybe some other time.
Are you a cyclist yourself, officer?
Well, perhaps you should buy my book. Here's my card.
Are you on Twitter? You can follow me there, and I do a blog too, www.realcyc... officer...?

They couldn't drive away fast enough.


  1. Fabulous story. I don't have that problem here. I only occasionally have people express wonder at why I'm interested in what they see as being utterly mundane and normal infrastructure, which still looks amazing to me.

  2. Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002
    Schedule 5: Signs for bus, tram and pedal cycle facilities

  3. Well done lad. Now you need to start taking photos on station platforms and put the BTP straight as well.

  4. Brilliant - if you'll excuse my bad punning, you managed to out-boar the pigs . . .