HOWTO beat the London cops on a BS terrorism stop

Glyn sez, "The Love Police do an amazing job demonstrating how to get out of being searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Stopped by police outside the Tower of London, they avoid being searched, having to give their personal details and having their camera film looked at simply by stating the law, remaining calm and polite. (Although keeping the video camera rolling probably helped too.) The police sent an Inspector (rather senior), two Sergeants, five officers and four police cars. But in the end they walk away."

The Love Police: How to Escape a TERROR STOP (Thanks, Glyn!)


  1. Awesome! I like to see the articulate and educated against the state.

    I have one question tho’. Isn’t the tower technically a military base?

  2. That was highly amusing, and everyone came across pleasant. I thought this one part was funny:

    police: we’re gonna search you
    guy: a. I don’t consent to that and b. under what power?
    police: you’re terroristing
    guy: how exactly are we terrorismifying?
    police: well, I’m not going to go over the ins and outs of that…

  3. interestingly enough, these guys – though i commend them overall – are completely wrong about cows contributing the most CO2 to the atmosphere, though they claim it to be “a fact.” Cows are contributing a different GHG to the atmosphere, namely methane, in the form of flatulence. anyway, carry on.

    1. Don’t forget that grain-fed cattle also incur a carbon footprint by needing to grow all that grain, which consumes petrochemical fertilizers and petrol fuel for cultivation and processing. That’s in addition to the fuel needed to cultivate and process the cattle that are themselves producing methane.

    2. rAMPANTiDIOCY – Cows breathe out CO2 too. I don’t know how significant it is to overall emissions, though.

    3. > are completely wrong about cows contributing the most
      > CO2 to the atmosphere, though they claim it to be “a
      > fact.” Cows are contributing a different GHG to the
      > atmosphere, namely methane, in the form of flatulence.
      > anyway, carry on.

      No, it’s actually released as burps. The methane is formed in their four stomachs, not their intestines.

  4. Actually, they don’t avoid a search by calmly stating the law. They avoid a search by calming repeating nonsense until the officer decides that they can’t possibly be any harm.
    It’s actually quite serious. Under Section 44 of the Anti-Terrorism act, the police can search anyone for any reason in an area that is ‘at risk’ (and the metropolitan police have defined the whole of Greater London as ‘at risk’) and you do NOT have the right to refuse. This time, it ended well (and the camera probably helped a lot) but it could quite easily have gone the opposite way. It really would be best to let the readers of BoingBoing know this, so that they don’t make a mistake and end up getting arrested.

    1. Actually, they do a little of both. Under section 44, you are *not* required to give any of your personal details or show identification. The Love Police did indeed cite that correctly.

      The police *may*, however, perform a general search of your outer clothing, pat you down, and check your pockets, among other things. Note that the guys in the video never claim it’s illegal, just that they don’t consent, and that they’d like the police to respect their personal rights.

      There’s a nice quick-reference bust card (designed for photographers) here:

    2. i agree this is just feel good cr*p.
      I would like a brown south asian guy with a beard try this and see what happens.

  5. Indeed. If the police think you are a threat, then you can pretty much kiss your arse goodbye. Feel-good videos like this make it seem as if there are some inalienable rights left in the UK when it comes to public order. But in fact there are not.

  6. The youtube automatic subtitles are actually amusing on this video. But to get back on the topic, as a frenchman I’m quite afraid; I used to be able to go out without my ID, and after some rough questionings I now carry my passport with me all the time, and I’m afraid this kind of laws/police behaviour will be my future.

    We all know here this is nonsensical, but I love the quote from this essay

    “Since September 11th, terror in the U.S. has rated above fatalities from shark attacks and not much else. Since the economic meltdown of 2008, it has, in fact, been left in the shade by violent deaths that stem from reactions to job loss, foreclosure, inability to pay the rent, and so on.

    This is seldom highlighted in a country perversely convulsed by, and that can’t seem to get enough of, fantasies about being besieged by terrorists.”

    1. To be more clear, it’s not the average person on the street who’s afraid of terrorism, it’s our government officials who are afraid of the average person being afraid, and who want to keep their phony-baloney jobs by passing inane and insane “protections” for those imaginary fearful people.

  7. Section 44 has a clause that lets you remain anonymous and immune to searching, questioning and being detained?

  8. Heroic stuff and a perfect example of how the Police officers in the UK engage in systematic abuse of the 2000 Terrorism act.

    But first, the entertainment!

    @3:37. The officer with no discernable neck is chomping at the bit. He wishes he had a tazer!

    @4:31. “Let’s bring reason and logic into this for just one moment”. A pivotal turning point in proceedings at which all of the officers begin to shuffle nervously from foot to foot, avoid any eye contact and mostly start staring at the ground. Fascinating insight into human behaviour. The police where on the back foot from that point onwards.

    @4:55. I can almost hear the spade clanging away at the bottom of the hole that the good humoured officer is digging as he tries to engage in debate spurred on by reason and logic. As the internets say – ‘epic fail’

    Part 2 continues…

    @0:35 Onlookers hosing themselves with laughter. The former no-necked officer has some kind of ADD kick in and is now looking for… pigeons/unmanned spy drones.

    @1:22 Citizen journalist filming proceedings. That’ll be on youtube in a few days I’m sure.

    @1:46. The officer knows it’s time to wrap up proceedings. His body language gives the game away. This is the signal for Veitch and his ‘accomplice’ to move in for the kill

    @3:30. … follwing lengthy diatribe on a point of law… PC “What answer did you get?” Accomplice.. “They told us to F-Off”

    @4:02. That is a medal winning, world class sardonic smirk. I applaud the humilty in defeat.

    @4:46. The closing gambit of going in for the hug is pushing things. I would have exited swiftly whilst the going was good.

    I think, some of the best youtubery I’ve ever seen. Surely, an MBE for Charlie Veitch is a racing cert?

    1. Could you tell me please what “racing cert” means? I tried to look it up in the Urban Dictionary but it wasn’t in there. Does it mean like “sure thing”/”sure bet”?

      1. Could you tell me please what “racing cert” means? I tried to look it up in the Urban Dictionary but it wasn’t in there. Does it mean like “sure thing”/”sure bet”?

        Ahh yes. Spot on. I fixed Urban Dictionary too whilst I was at it, something of a first as I suspect I fall well outside of the demographic of your more usual Urban Dictionary contributor!

        Back on topic, I was toying with a little irony of course when I suggested an MBE for Mr Veitch but checking into the guidance criteria…

        Before you make your nomination, ask yourself the following questions. Has your nominee:

        made a difference to their community or field of work?
        brought distinction to British life and enhanced its reputation?
        exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service?
        demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship?
        carried the respect of their peers?
        changed things, with an emphasis on achievement?
        improved the lot of those less able to help themselves?
        displayed moral courage and vision in making and delivering tough choices?

        … he’s ticking all the boxes

        Just sayin’

  9. Where I come from(Winnipeg), the cops don’t take that sissy talk too long. Christ, just trying to talk to them civilly gets them looking to charge you with something.
    The police can pretty much do whatever they want, and there’s not much any of us can do about it. Might as well be the bitch and roll over.

    1. I don’t disagree that there’s not much (realistically) you can do… don’t you think, however, that bending over and taking it is exactly what got you into this mess?

      As an expat UK citizen in the US, I’ve basically assumed that the UK will eventually collapse under the weight of its surveillance state unless the people start making some significant noise. I’m curious as to whether one can become stateless due to such an occurrence…

    2. The police can pretty much do whatever they want, and there’s not much any of us can do about it. Might as well be the bitch and roll over.


      1. “The police can pretty much do whatever they want, and there’s not much any of us can do about it. Might as well be the bitch and roll over.”

        No. No.

        1. Then please go to Winnipeg and fight the power — show everyone how it’s done. You will get thrown in jail, your camera memory cards confiscated, and you will have no recourse.

          1. “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” H. D. Thoreau, in Civil Disobediance

            I did spend a night in a Canadian jail long ago (for just reasons). All considered it was a rather prosaic experience, but pleasant enough and good company. I thought it very decent that they would take my VISA card for payment of a fine. That was in Ontario, and perhaps Winnipeg is not as genteel.

  10. Shame it just ends – would have liked to see till ‘the end’, if there was one.

    Is there a single intelligent officer in the whole Met? It’s like they’re programmed to be buffoons.

  11. I really do have to wonder just how differently things might have gone had there been no video camera running. I think that’s the actual mitigating force at work here.

  12. As a Frenchman living in the UK for 10 years now, I’ve always found the police officers here much friendlier than in France where most of them seemed to have some sort of power ego trip, especially in large cities… The fact that in France you are legally obliged to carry your ID card at all times gives the police an excuse to stop anyone to check your paperwork is all in Ordnung.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the days of the nice bobby are counted in the UK and we’re now going to start being more afraid of the police than thinking of them as people who are here to help us. Provincial cops will see how they do things in London and will start to have their own power trips in smaller and quieter places…

    I have spent some time in a few ex-soviet states (Russia and Kazakhstan) and the police there is all-powerful and obviously corrupted (and who wouldn’t abuse such powers after a while?!) – Even in traffic accidents you do everything you can to avoid involving them! Is it what our “democratic” governments ultimately want?


  13. I also think, before we post YouTube videos making the police look stupid, we should think:

    If my job was to devise a counter-terrorism policy that protected a city of 7 million people from the fluid network of ideas and participants that organises global terrorism, what would I do?

    If anyone can think of a policy that provides 100% protection without causing anyone any inconvenience and allows for no possibility of over-reaction or over-zealous policing, do share.

    1. 5onthe5: well spoken, but you’re assuming that Londoners need protection. Yes, bombing innocent people is a terrible thing, but exactly how much value you place on those people’s lives should not be determined by the severity of the perceived threat. The world is a dangerous place. Let’s not make it more dangerous in the long run by suppressing freedom and oppressing people for the sake of feeling like we’re making it safer in the short run. If the well-being of 7 million people is something you care about, put some of your effort and resources behind someone like Jamie Oliver.

    2. You can’t stop all terror. That’s nonsense. The smart move is just not trying at all.

      A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

      1. Very nice from a philosophical viewpoint. But pacifism vs. Nazism would never have worked. While we can massively respect Gandhi and his approach – civil disobedience etc. – it can only work against a regime or person that is either essentially decent and empathetic, or one that is subject to decent or empathetic influence. Hence Hitler, to extend your chess analogy, checkmates Gandhi – sad but true.

    3. If my job was to devise a counter-terrorism policy that protected a city of 7 million people from the fluid network of ideas and participants that organises global terrorism, what would I do?

      I bike through the city often. Know what I would do? Accept that my chances of dying in a bike accident or a few orders of magnitude higher than dying of a terrorist attack and execute my “death avoidance” strategy accordingly.

      Clamping down on civil liberties and harassing the citizens of your nation is not the answer. Boring old behind the scenes police work is the only answer. Are you going to nab every terrorist? Nope. You are also not going to stop every bike accident either and likely don’t car. Some people at some point will die. We will be sad and move on knowing that at any moment someone can open a car door and door you, a car could T-bone you, you could drop dead of a freak heart attack, or yes, you might be standing at exactly the wrong spot when terrorist manages to blow himself up instead of just his junk.

      Life is full of REAL risks. It is absurd that after having survived countless real risks we roll over and take the cold steel rod of an authoritarian police state up the ass because of one of the most absurdly low and unlikely causes of death.

    4. Full credit to the police officer really, for listening to them and making the right decision.

      In reply to 5onthe5:

      “If my job was to devise a counter-terrorism policy that protected a city of 7 million people from the fluid network of ideas and participants that organises global terrorism, what would I do?”

      I would use intelligence agencies to counter terrorism, not police. Most police are not trained to counter organized, hidden plots against our safety. That’s what MI5 and MI6 should be doing. Trying to catch terrorists through searching the public like this is just so obviously inefficient. You trade off loads of police time, loss in civil liberties etc. and in exchange have no significant increase in your chance off stopping an act of terrorism.

    5. “If my job was to devise a counter-terrorism policy that protected a city of 7 million people from the fluid network of ideas and participants that organises global terrorism”, I’d probably start from the baseline of *not* trying to destroy the people’s rights and freedoms faster than the terrorists. As soon as we give up rights and freedoms to fight terrorism, the terrorists win.

      1. As many have already pointed out, the threat of terrorism is nothing new here. I find it astonishing that so many people seem to accept the official explanation that these restrictions to civil liberties are needed in order to protect us.
        Isn’t it painfully obvious that the true motivations are alltogether more sinister- a deliberate program designed to gain complete control over all aspects of life?

        It’s an extension of the corporate/governemnt synthesis: human freedom is antithical to the pursuit of profit.

        1. It’s an extension of the corporate/governemnt synthesis: human freedom is antithical to the pursuit of profit.

          The pursuit of profit is antithetical to statism, the goal of most governments and quite a few corporations. Human freedom is the only way to ensure profits.

    6. If it my my job to devise a system to protect the people of London, I’d start by keeping members of the public onside, not alientating them and treating citizens as suspects until proven otherwise. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t think so.

  14. Nice.

    But, I won’t be visiting Britain, or spending my money in that country or on any of their products until they grow up and stop treating everyone like a terrorist

    1. I’m sorry, JimfromMaine, but is that Maine as in America? If so, this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    2. And they say that Americans really do not get irony, this really is the funniest thing I’ve read in days.

      If meant in irony then well played sir, I salute you!

      If meant in seriousness then you are so detached from any semblence of reality you should have yourself committed for your own safety (or maybe you already have been).

  15. If this had been my town, lets just say somewhere in California’s central valley, They would have had their camera broken and been tazed before the first video had ended. Then with no surviving footage of the encounter they would have lost their lawsuit as around here judges always believe cops. Which is funny because so many of them shouldn’t be trusted.

  16. @5onthe5: There is no such thing as 100% protection. Ever. The question is always: is the gain in security worth the tradeoff (in economic cost, lost time, police resources misdirected, lost freedom)?

  17. Also, given that the political landscape can change rapidly, and we are talking about new laws that were instated to combat a new threat, isn’t it possible that the workable mean will evolve over time?

    More time than we’ve given it so far.

    1. Terrorism is not a new threat. The UK previously faced terrorism from the IRA. London survived the Blitz during WWII. The threat is nothing new, only the reaction to it.

  18. 5onthe5: The London police protected the city from IRA terrorists for 30 years. They didn’t need to grab abusive powers and harass people for doing legally protected activities.

    1. The London police protected the city from IRA terrorists for 30 years. They didn’t need to grab abusive powers and harass people for doing legally protected activities”
      – No but the UK Govt did in Northern Ireland – 1971 internment, armed roadblocks etc. The reason they weren’t arresting photographers then is that it hadn’t occurred to anyone to do so. Not because of any great love of civil liberties.

  19. I don’t understand. This was filmed several months after the big wigs sent the stop abusing the Article 44 on people who are filming. Knock it off you are embarrassing us!

    Yet here we are at it again.

  20. It’s downright freaky that the police, even when confronted with people who clearly have done nothing wrong, who clearly know their rights, and are clearly filming them — the police don’t just walk away. It’s like they think they have a license to do whatever they want, so along as the stars don’t align to require them to actually protect citizens’ rights.

  21. Throughly enjoyed it. Thought it went very well and I wish I was as well educated with the law.

    As for “How do we fight terrorism”. Something to think about:

    Every attempted airport terrorist act since 9/11, has been stopped with PRE-9/11 methods. All the new scanning, profiling, checking, security and technology has caught nothing.

    Security expert, Bruce Schneier has a great quote…

    “For years, I’ve said that exactly two things have made us safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door and convincing passengers that they need to fight back. ”

    Assuming that removing civil rights and increasing the powers of the police somehow makes us safer is completely without merit or proof.

  22. Let’s see him get past the receipt checkers at Walmart. Then he’ll have done something extraordinary (*snark* and h/t consumerist ad infinitum, ad nauseum)

    1. Smarmy brats are usually the people who win civil rights for the rest of us. It’s a damn good thing that they don’t really give a shit what anyone else thinks about them, just about what’s right and wrong and how to fix a broken system.

  23. What do you hate the most, TheNipponese? That they’re confident, that they’re educated, that they’re brave, or that they’re right?

  24. its really great to watch, but the depressing thing about it is that a video like this actually exists.

    why is it necessary that 4 people have to explain what they re doing for 15 minutes to weasel themselves out of a situation like this?

  25. On 12 January 2010 Liberty won a landmark legal case on Section 44.

    In Gillan and Quinton v the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Section 44 violates the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights. This is because the power is so broad that it fails to provide safeguards against abuse.

    1. Hi;

      Great video – it’s nice to see a reasonable discussion between protesters and police.

      Having said that, the protesters slightly misrepresent the powers given under section 44 – from the Liberty website the following paragraph to the one I’m replying to states:

      “Despite the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, Section 44 will remain in place until it is amended by Parliament.”

      i.e. despite the European court ruling, if you are stopped under the act you can be searched, and may be arrested if you refuse a search.

      On the other hand, you are not obliged to give your name and address, and you cannot be compelled to delete photographs or film.

  26. To put it into perspectives peanut butter allergies, lightning strikes and deer accidents kill more than terrorists every year. Yet governments have killed 200 million in the last 100 years alone at least.

    The real threat is from police/politicians eroding rights and freedoms, and gradually year by year changing the mentality of the free men and women of the community, until they are like brainwashed robots that simply obey their ‘masters’ Security comes from freedom, and without freedom, you will suffer a fate worse than death

  27. For what it’s worth, I work at Los Angeles City Hall, and tourists take pictures of it all the time and I’ve never seen one get harassed by the authorities.

      1. Next you will suggest that when I cover my eyes I am not invisible. It is a well known fact that if I cannot see you, then you cannot possibly see me. Hence it only stands to reason that if something isn’t happening in front of me it doesn’t actually happen. To say otherwise would shatter ones belief that the world revolves around them, and that just isn’t done in polite company.

      2. I wasn’t denying anything. I agree that if it’s happening one time, it’s happening one time too many. I never denied that it happens. But it’s also helpful to know that not everybody is insane, and that it is still possible for a place to be crawling with cops and photographers and have it not be an issue.

        Actually, the fact that some places that are security-conscious and are potential terrorist targets and yet they can still treat tourists and photographers with respect puts a lie to the those in authority who think that people taking snapshots somehow threatens them.

  28. My heart was hammering at the beginning at just the thought of standing up to them. When did I become afraid of police?

    Oh yes,growing up in Northern Ireland at the tail end of the troubles (early 90s).

    What I find depressing is that all this was predicted by the people who saw the power of the Terrorism Act and the capacity for abuse in NI.

  29. The ‘Love Police’ reminds us that it was the British People themselves who stood up to Hitler, not just the British Government – who seem to have been mentored by former members of the East German STASI of late.

    How deeply sad to see what a testing ground for modern totaliterianism England has become.

    FREE Cornwall!!

  30. These videos are a good lesson on how to **productively** commune with the police if you are stopped. A relaxed attitude gets you a lot further.

    Yes the camera helped, but the Yank behind the camera nearly upset the boat a couple of times by interrupting in an overly excited manner.

    1. Sounded more like a Dutchman behind the camera to me. But yes: a single spokesperson would have been better. The cameraman in particular should stay quiet and unobtrusive, to avoid giving any reason to confiscate the camera.

      I personally feel the main reason this worked was the large number of witnesses who came out on the guy’s side. The number of cameras was just an additional bonus, since (I think) the police have the right to confiscate cameras that were used to film policemen, if that footage could be used for terrorist ends.

      Thank you, Anon, for pointing me to “Gillan and Quinton v the United Kingdom”. Interesting reading.

      From the court’s ruling: “They were obliged to remain where they were and submit to the search and if they had refused they would have been liable to arrest, detention at a police station and criminal charges.” “Not only is it unnecessary for him to demonstrate the existence of any reasonable suspicion; he is not required even subjectively to suspect anything about the person stopped and searched. The sole proviso is that the search must be for the purpose of looking for articles which could be used in connection with terrorism, a very wide category which could cover many articles commonly carried by people in the streets. Provided the person concerned is stopped for the purpose of searching for such articles, the police officer does not even have to have grounds for suspecting the presence of such articles.” “The Ministry of Justice recorded a total of 33,177 searches in 2004/5, 44,545 in 2005/6, 37,000 in 2006/7 and 117,278 in 2007/8”

      However, according to the Times: “The surprise ruling stunned the Home Office, which swiftly announced that the Government would seek to appeal against the unanimous ruling by seven judges. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said that police would continue to use the powers”

      So: the EU court has ruled them illegal, but the police will continue to break the law at the behest of the Home Secretary. But I thought “Just following orders” was no longer a permissible defence, if you know what you were doing is illegal?

  31. This was an excellent example of why they’re going to
    lose the Falklands (and the oil revenues.)

  32. This just really brought a smile to my face. I love these guys’ attitudes. It ought to be a joyful and fun act to stand up for one’s rights!

  33. Is there a technological solution to the problem of camera confiscation? I envision that citizens would have much greater power in encounters with the police if their video could not be confiscated.

    Here is one solution: stream video to a remote server through a portable hotspot like a mifi type device. Is this possible? If not, what technology is needed?

  34. two thoughts:
    1) man, I found that exhausting. they had to be full-bore for the whole encounter! good job, but I think I’ll just watch. :)
    2) am interested that they achieved protection in part by citing “we do this all the time” and the behavior of cops in the past. since that “defense” isn’t available to most citizens, it makes their example a bit harder to apply/follow…


  35. Nice that everyone was able to remain civil… Being able to cite actual law and not just “i know my rights” is mighty helpful. However, I think the odds of this type of conversation happening in the US is mighty low… Cops here (particularly in LA) generally aren’t interested in hearing reasoned arguments.

  36. I enjoyed the video very much, but as a US citizen who has witnessed & been involved in a few encounters with police, I very much doubt the outcome would have been at all the same in America.

    As someone opined earlier, in the US, you either would have had your camera taken or, at the very least, covered by another police officer. I also believe it is illegal not to show identification in the US. I was arrested for not showing ID in Indiana some 20 years ago. Of course the charge was “public intoxication”, but as I had not had anything to drink, witnesses to attest to that fact, and the resources to challenge the charge, it was ultimately dropped. But I still spent a night in jail. And that was before the wide spread use of tasers.

Comments are closed.