My first ever encounter with a policeman was when I was aged eight. The policeman had stopped me for riding my pushbike along a path that had clearly stated, “No Cycling”. The Policeman put the wind up me by saying next time he’d remove the inner tubes on my bike; a strange threat, but I always walked my bike down the path from that day on.
Some ten years later I encountered the type of police you saw on episodes of the Sweeny….
In need of the loo I ran into an empty public toilet and was quickly followed by two plain cloth policemen who after flashing their i.d card’s, dragged me outside, and arrested me. In true bad cop show clichés, one policeman was nice while the other was a meathead aggressive homophobe. I was 18 at the time and in a relationship that at the time was against the law (you had to be 21); I was terrified. Eventually I was let off without a charge, but left with a feeling of disrespect for the police.
Some years later at an anti-Clause 28 rally, I was to witness the police acting aggressive once more. After a march through London, we all congregated in Kennington Park and listened to the speakers; but when we tried to leave, the police moved in to arrest us all. Again the bad feeling I had about the police came back.
I’m pleased to say that this is not my blanket view of all police. As 2009 was coming to a close, my neighbours and I would find ourselves spending most nights being kept awake by my next-door neighbour and his lodger as they played their music and television loud, had mid week parties followed by late night rows. Gradually over the next 18 months things got worse with various officials getting involved; from the landlords, environmental health and the community police. However everything came to a head when the lodger from next door came round kicked and punched my front door while shouting “You’re fu**ing dead you fu**ing gay c**t.”
The police dealt with the issue professionally, listened to me without prejudice and arrested the lodger due to his homophobic attack. Later that night an office came round to take a detailed report. The next day I was visited by another officer who spoke to everyone who had been affected by the barrage of disturbances.
Eventually a date was set for the magistrate court, and surprisingly the lodger was only given a fine but allowed to stay next door on condition he kept the peace. Rather predictably it only took a few more weeks before he was kicking off again, which led to another court appearance were the ‘nuisance’ was quickly issued with an eviction order.
For two years me and my neighbour’s lives was made a misery, made worse by a system that seems at times to favour the perpetrator, but I’m pleased to say my experience with the police was a positive one.