When I see and experience individual police officers acting unprofessionally, inappropriately and over officiously I have no problem with challenging their behaviour personally with them. If I'm still not happy I speak to their superior officer. What I don't do is going running to the tabloid press with a verbatum script. Above all it is a police officers’ first principle to abide completely with the laws we task them to enforce, i.e. the principle of policing by consent. I have a great deal of respect for the Police Services across the UK and am upset by individual officers giving the service a bad name and possibly into disrepute. Let's consider the Andrew Mitchell Gategate affair, currently being exposed in the tabloid press for comments he made to an S06 officer at the Downing Street gates. Downing Street is a public highway. Ordinarily we would have a statutory right to drive down it, walk down it or take a short cut to Horse Guards Road. It is in fact an offence to obstruct this highway without just cause. Understandably HM Government would rather this didn’t happen and so access is restricted using ‘temporary’ but renewable anti-terrorism laws. The gates and police are there for the protection of the Prime Minister and keep people out. They are not there to keep Downing Street inhabitants in. Mr Mitchelll was already in Downing Street so must have been seen by this officer, or at the very least he must have known there was no security risk in letting him out the gates. There is absolutely no reason whatever, therefore, for Andrew Mitchell to be forced to dismount his bike and be ordered to walk through the pedestrian gate. While the vocal left are clambering for resignations the question must be asked as to why the Policeman felt it necessary to obstruct a cyclist’s access to Whitehall when he was lawfully cycling along a public highway. Ironically it’s the Police Officer who could be investigated for offences under the Highways Act. If I were to be confronted with a police guarded gate across my road and told, for no reason, to walk round onto the pavement I would be entitled to ask why. If I were dissatisfied with the response I would be entitled to get cross. I can well understand there being a ‘heated exchange of views’ and with hindsight I’m sure the policeman and Mr Mitchell would both reflect and possibly regret the actions and words which were exchanged.
By the way, I asked the Bobby in the photo what he was filming and he was more than happy to tell me. Nice Bloke