It was a scenario that would have seemed like overkill in an Eastern European border post at the height of the Cold War. At least a dozen uniformed British Transport Police with dogs and backup vehicles in the average-sized mainline trainstation of an insignificant UK provincial city, at tea-time on a Sunday evening.
Doing stop and searches, apparently based on the hunches of the afore-mentioned sniffer dogs. Which apparently were experts in the fine old canine arts of sniffing out “drugs” or people who “look a bit
I listened to one father challenging a Transport policewoman about the fact that his teenage son’s details – name, address, date of birth, etc – had been collected to go in a database. …. Despite a search of all the lad’s pockets, socks and so on, not having turned up an aspirin, a knife, a gun or a handy pocket-sized stick of semtex.
The father pointed out that any other time the lad is stopped, the information that pops up will record him as the subject of a drugs/weapons/terror search. Thus setting him off on a path that leads to an identification as somehow having warranted this suspicion.
The policewoman said words to the effect that it was just tough. That’s just the way things are. And no, there was nothing he could do about it. The database entry stands. All the details collected from such stops go into the database of information on – well – close to everybody that they can get information from .
Blimey, I didn’t even realise that British Transport Police had rights of random stop and search. Let alone rights to gather information on people’s names addresses and travel plans. Oh, yes, RIPA. D’oh. It’s probably only an oversight that they didn’t demand DNA.
I am so innocent. Who would have thought that a teenager buying a train ticket, with his parents, could probably be an international drug dealer or a suicide bomber? Well, better to be safe than sorry. Silly me.
A huge policeman came to physically back up the policewoman, in case the father might actually raise his voice, cuss or commit some other subversive act.
At this point, I could see a potential for nothing good to come of it for anyone who wasn’t in uniform, so I sidled off in a cowardly manner…….