Monday, November 07, 2005

Cop-bothering

So, I was watching 'World's Wildest Police Videos' last night, and I thought I'd regale you with my personal police encounter.
To set the scene: I was 19. My family and I were on holiday in Wales, where we go every three years. My family consisted of me, my two younger brothers (13 and 16 at the time), my older sister (23), my parents, my maternal grandparents, and my paternal grandmother.

We'd gone to a little town to have a look at their castle. We'd done that, and had an ice-cream, and had a look round the town. So we're heading back to the cars (my parents' minibus and my m. grandparents' car), and some of us were still wandering around the town. My brothers, my grandmothers and myself were waiting by the cars for everyone else. I was sitting on a wall eating a sandwich and reading, my grandmothers were wandering in and out of the toilets next to the car (washing thermoses, etc. You know what elderly ladies are like), and my brothers were playing with a plastic toy rifle - swinging it round on their fingers, throwing it about, etc.

Eventually the rest of the family got back, so we all got into the cars to head home. H (who has been featured on this blog before) rode with my m. grandparents, and our other granny rode with us.

As we're driving, my dad noticed a police car following us. Didn't really think anything of it, other'n that one of the indicators on the minibus wasn't working, so he should try and avoid turning left whilst the police car was right behind us. Then every time we passed a roundabout, or a side turning, another car would start following us. At this point, we assumed they were escorting something. But no.

As we pulled onto a wide stretch of road, one of the police cars screeched round in front of us, and we heard shouting from the back of the van. We turned around, only to see six policemen with their guns pointing at us, and one with an attack dog.

They were shouting at us all to put our hands out of the windows, so my mum wound hers down and shouted "The windows in the back don't open. Don't shoot my children!" Then they got my dad and my 16-year-old brother out of the car, searched them, handcuffed them, and put them into the back of one of the patrol cars (actually, my dad refused because, with his hands behind his back and his bad back, he couldn't actually sit like that), then took all the rest of us out of the car and had us put our hands on the wall whilst we were searched. It was about this point that we found out what was going on.

Somebody had reported 'two men with a gun' and had given them our licence plate details.

Remember the point when we were waiting for everyone else by the car?
Uh-huh.

What a vicious and cunning gang of armed warlords we must have looked.

So, this person was close enough to get our licence plate, and not close enough to tell that it was two kids playing with a toy?
Uh-huh.

Anyway, they searched the car, and found the toy gun. That's when their attitude started to change to 'oh, bugger'.

They asked us why we were in Wales. We said holiday, and I think they believed us when they saw the buckets of shells, the spades, the towels, and the half inflated rubber dinghy at the back of the van.

By this point, I was crying hysterically, and my gran was laughing hysterically. Eventually they came up to us and apologised, saying that they have to follow up on this sort of thing, and that the reason they'd followed without doing anything for so long was that they were waiting for the dog unit, and that they were really, really sorry...

When we got back to our holiday house, everyone hit the alcohol.

I can laugh about it now, but it's one of the top two scariest things that have ever happened to me (my first stroke being the other) and I do still get a little on the wobbly side whilst thinking of it. So there you go. My criminal history (sort of).

4 Comments:

At 12:17 pm, Blogger Mort said...

I think the Police should be checking your name against every unsolved gun-related crime in Edinburgh.

 
At 12:18 pm, Blogger ScarletManuka said...

That's some pretty scary shit. I can't believe someone would mistake boys playing with a toy for a real gun!

 
At 12:24 pm, Blogger LaMa said...

That's quite a story...you've been lucky it was Britain and not the US, and before the London tube attacks.

My personal encounters with the police have been restricted to one fine because of ridding a bicycle without a lantern when I was 14 or something.

And that funny occasion a few years ago when I was passenger on the luggage-carrier of the bicycle of an off-duty cop (a friend of my brother), who was extremely drunk and swirling left and right over the road...

 
At 3:40 pm, Blogger Charybdis said...

Yes, you're lucky it wasn't the US because then you would have just been shot without warning. We're like that, it seems.

 

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