4FRONT VOICES - Testimony: A birthday in cells
By 4FRONT Member (Anonymised):
It was my 18th birthday. Me and my friends went to the cemetery. I wanted to be with my dead friend. After about 15 minutes of being there, the Gang Unit and TSG (Territorial Support Group) turned up. There were other people in the cemetery, but we were the ones who got stopped.
“I’m only here to see my dead friend on my birthday” I said. I offered to give them all of my details - just to get it over and done with. He did not tell me I was being detained, he just said “I'm searching you”. They then put me in cuffs and searched me. At this point, I am the only person who has been put in handcuffs. All my friends also got searched.
Whilst they were searching us they asked why we were out, and I told them, “It's my birthday, I came to see my dead brother. I’m allowed 1 hour of exercise a day and I chose to spend it here with my dead brother. Is there a problem with it?” The officer said no. They said that they were searching me because I walked away from them. The officer told me that if everything is alright then they will let me go. He asked for my details, which I gave to him - he put it through the system.
I complied with the search even though they had already put me in cuffs. The officer said “if you've got nothing to hide then the search will be quick, if you're not wanted or anything then everything will be sweet”. They said they saw me throw something - I told them I didn’t throw anything. They then said that they are arresting me for Possession With Intent To Supply.
As soon as they told me that, I asked “Can I call my youth worker?”. The officer said no. Before that the sergeant was making cheeky comments like “You’re 18 today, you don’t need no mummy or daddy in the station”. He was taunting me and rubbing it in. That is when i started to get mad. The officer kept referencing my dad - he was saying that I don't need an appropriate adult today and that today will be the first time I don't get an appropriate adult.
When he told me that I can't call my youth worker, I asked my friend to make that phone call. As I asked him if I could speak to my youth worker he got violent. He was saying “No! You will not speak to your youth worker or anyone else.” He started to use excessive force - pushing me around by my cuffs. He kept pushing me back and with each push he was tightening my cuffs even more. I was asking “why are you tightening my cuffs, am I resisting? Have I shown you any form of resistance? From the time you approached me I've complied, I've given you my details, everything”.
My friend got a hold of my youth worker, and put the phone on loudspeaker. At this point they started to dash me in the van. He threw me onto the first seat. The cuffs were tight on me. Then he picked me up from my cuffs, then threw me onto another chair in the van with all his weight on me. I was getting even more angry. The officer had a firm grip on my handcuffs and kept shaking it and moving it around whilst it's tight on my wrist.
Another officer then intervened and tried to calm me down. He said “whatever happened, happened. The quicker you comply, the easier this will be”. I told him “I have complied from the beginning. I have not shown no sort of defiance, I have not given no false information. You know where I live, you know who I am. I have given you all my details. What more can you ask for?”. The officer kept saying “Well the quicker you comply the quicker this will be dealt with, we’ll take you down to the station, it will be quick”.
At that point I told him “I have not got a problem with this, I have a problem with your officer dealing with me in this manner. I was polite with him at the beginning”. Then the same officer interjected and said “You're a nice lad, but I had to use force to take control of the whole situation because I'm not a brat, I don't want to be taken as a brat by you lot.” He used excessive force not because I was resisting or because I was being difficult - it was to show my friends and his colleagues that he has control of the situation. I thought to myself let me just get this over and done with so i can enjoy my birthday.
I then get back to the police station. The officer who was using force on me was saying “Don't worry, I will be dealing with this matter personally so I can get you home by 8pm tonight - so you can enjoy the rest of your birthday.” As I’m getting booked in, the sergeant is taunting me saying “Today’s your birthday, shall we sing you happy birthday?”. I just wanted it done with. I told them to book me in, fingerprint me and just put me in my cell. The sergeant said they will take a fresh picture of me, and “put it in the family of fresh 18-year-olds” - talking about the mug shots. An officer offered me a birthday biscuit to eat in my cell, but another officer said “he doesn't deserve it, just put him back in his cell”.
“I recognise you from somewhere” one officer says - but I’ve never been here in my life. He asked me for my name and when I told him that he said “All of you look the same anyway”. When i'm in my cell, a couple officers were coming into my cell and making comments like “you’re the birthday boy today, you’re the one who turned 18 yeah, it's gonna be a day you’re gonna remember forever.” I left the police station at 1:00am. I was in cells for almost 12 hours.