The answer would seem to be not on Sunday. At some point between 12:30pm and 1:55pm, when myself and hundreds of other Brightonians were escorting the fascist English Defence League as they marched down Church Street, one of their number burst through the police ranks and attacked me by grabbing my wrist. I presume it was an attack and not a desperate bid for the attentions of an alpha male like myself from a lonely and repressed retard. I think it’s safe to assume that he acted out of malice. Immediately that he grabbed me, I pulled back and he was detained by three police officers. They brough him to down to the pavement on the southern side of Church Street. At 2:11pm I tweeted thanks to @sussex_police for the speed of their officer’s reaction. At 6:05pm that day I telephoned the police to inform them that I wished to give evidence about this attack and arranged an interview for this morning.
At 8:30am I made a formal crime report to the Brighton Police. Here’s how the conversation went. I’m unsure of the correct spelling of the interviewing officer’s name, it just sounded like “hold”.
PC: Hello there, I’m PC Hold. How are you?
Me: Alright. Bit early in the morning.
PC: Which hand was it.
Me: It’s er, er, neither hand anymore but I was grabbed on this wrist…
Me: … so er I got er when I phoned up, embarassingly, being a Brightonian, I got North Road and Church Street muddled up. Obviously it’s Church Street isn’t it?
Me: Unless there’s some parallel protest going on then yeah
PC: Erm, basically, from the gist of the initial information I’ve got on the report, it says that erm, were you involved in the protest?
Me: Er, I was one of the people opposing the march, yes.
PC: Right, right, okay, and someone’s come up and did you have a megaphone or something like that?
Me: I did have a megaphone, red and white, yes.
PC: And somebody’s grabbed it off you. Did they take it out of your hand?
Me: No. What happened was that, er, probably too much detail, I’m walking along with my megaphone at chin height.
PC: mm hm.
Me: At the precise moment that they grabbed my wrist, I was looking that way [indicates left]
Me: I felt my wrist and my right hand, the hand holding the megaphone being pulled and as I turned around I saw that someone – it happened all very fast – someone was trying to grab either my arm or my megaphone or whatever.
PC: mm hm.
Me: It was just, I pulled back and gripped the megaphone hard… and three of your colleagues jumped on him very fast indeed but he must have come through their lines. I don’t think he was one of us. He came through their lines from his direction of travel…
Me: … and your colleagues were two or three deep at the back end as they were heading down Church Street, before they got to, say, the junction with Jew Street, er, but not immediately before but it’s somewhere down there I think. Pretty sure its towards the top end of the road rather than towards the bottom end but you’ll know where it is because you… you… I didn’t see him for very long and suddenly you…
PC: The issue that we have is that although police managed to grab him, detain him or whatever they happened to do, I’m aware because I was on duty that day that only two people were actually arrested as a result of the protest on that day…
Me: I heard that as well, yeah.
PC: … and so I know that this person hasn’t been arrested for any type of assault or anything like that.
Me: Why would that not happen when he’s brought to the ground for… with three, three police officers pull him to the ground after they see him lunge…
Me: … I mean it’s prima facie a convictable case isn’t it?
PC: Well I don’t know because I wasn’t there.
Me: Okay but…
PC: But if they were specifically involved in the protest and that they’re actually …
Me: You mean your colleagues, yeah?
PC: and they’re following the procession as it’s going down, if, for example, one of these people have jumped out of the protest
PC: Rather than being actually on the protest. You have different people doing different roles. You have police doing the lines and you have the police on the procession
PC: If, for any reason, three people have brought that person down, detained him and brought him down, erm, they then make the decision that they don’t have the resources to take three officers out with that person because it leaves the rest of the people in the march not adequately prepared.
Me: Yeah, I understand. Is that the reason?
PC: I don’t know, it could be. Obviously the EGT teams that have their video cameras for the police, that monitor it, may well have videoed this person, which I should imagine they may have done. If he’s jumped out they will have videoed it for evidence so I can check with them for that footage…
Me: Sorry to interrrupt, immediately after this happened I was also not in the mood for standing by this chap who was, so far as I was concerned, was now arrested and I carried on walking down the street, erm, behind the police cordon which in turn was behind the EDL bunch and I cried out through my megaphone something along the lines of, ‘if the police wish to take my details, I was the person just assaulted. My name is Scrapper Duncan. You can find me on twitter. You can find me online. I would like to see this man in court. I would like to see him prosecuted. He just attacked me. It was through a megaphone.
PC: Yeah, but you must appreciate…
Me: They were still on the pavement at that point so they’ve got someone
PC: Like I said, I can’t justify their actions. I don’t know what they heard. I should imagine it was absolute chaotic where they were and people shouting, screaming left, right and centre.
Me: Well at that moment, I was the loudest voice with my megaphone. I hear what you’re saying. I’m not asking you to make a comment [inaudible] what you’re doing is confirming that the man wasn’t arrested and presumably because he wasn’t arrested, no details were taken?
PC: That’s correct, yeah.
Me: So we don’t know who he is.
PC: We don’t know who he is and the only way we would be able to find out is through the use of CCTV, whether it be the cameras that were monitoring the event from our control room here or whether it would be the officers on the ground who had the EGT teams who would have been monitoring.
Me: Then you have to match him up…
PC: Exactly but if this person is involved in the protest then it is more than likely that we will know or somebody will know who these specific people are, erm…
PC: Well we have teams that are aware of who protestors are and such. It may well be that we do know who he is or we may not.
Me: There were about a hundred of them, I suppose. I suppose there’s what a certain proportion that are the hardcore trouble-makers…
PC: Exactly. Obviously this is something that I can investigate. Basically, I need to take the initial details from you. A final report will be generated and then its down to our secondary lines of enquiry which will be CCTV. That will be my only line of enquiry. Erm, there’s no other way that I can identify who the three officers that took hold of the male. Firstly, it wasn’t just Sussex Police Officers involved.
Me: I know
PC: It’s Hampshire Police and Kent Police. There’s no other way I can find out who those officers are.
Me: Its a thankless task I know, if you don’t end up with a conviction, its a thankless task but for what it’s worth they all had high visibility jackets on so that rules out the officers that did not.
PC: Which everybody on duty had.
Me: There were officers without high visibility jackets on.
PC: Okay, well, I didn’t see any of those but… right I need to take a few details. Your date of birth please?
Me: [gives date of birth]
PC: And do you have a contact address?
Me: [gives home address]
PC: Got your contact telephone number, do you have a landline?
Me: No. Well, I do but I’m about to get rid of it.
PC: Do you have an email address?
Me: [gives email address]
PC: Was any injury sustained?
Me: My wrist was throbbing for an hour. I’ve obtained a small scratch.
PC: What time was it:
Me: I’m not too sure because I wasn’t paying close attention to the time but you’ll know exactly when it was because it’s the time that the protest started…
PC: … started walking down Church Street at the junction with Jew Street.
Me: Nah, no, no. It wasn’t at the junction. I was saying that we hadn’t got as far as that. It was higher up the road but it wasn’t at the very top. It was somewhere in between. …
PC: What building were you at on Church Street?
PC: Were you at LA Fitness or further down?
Me: I think a wee bit further down.
PC: Near the Post Office or further down than that?
Me: I’m not sure. I’m really not sure.
PC: What side of the road were you on?
Me: I was in the middle of the road.
PC: Right, okay.
Me: Bang in the middle.
PC: In front, did you say?
Me: What do you mean, ‘in front’?
PC: In front of the march?
Me: No, behind.
Me: I was walking behind them, behind your colleagues.
PC: Can you give any description of what this man looked like?
Me: ‘Fraid not, no. I mean, I presume it was a man. All I saw, it was very very fast, I was aware of my wrist being grabbed and someone coming forward at the same time as the officers were pulling him away. You know, I was grabbed quite strongly so I tend to – maybe a bit unreconstructed – tend to assume that’s a man.
PC: Right, okay.
Me: It felt like a man’s strength but I don’t know.
PC: Right, okay, that’s fine.
Me: And I only saw his legs after that because three of you lot were sitting on top of him.
PC: Okay, that’s fine. I will do the necessary lines of enquiry that I need to do to try and identify who this person is. Like I said,
Me: Yeah, you haven’t arrested him so we’re not going to prosecute, I understand.
PC: Unless I can find out who he is.
PC: I do everything I can to find any CCTV footage as such. Erm, a crime number will be generated for common assault and you will be emailed with a crime reference number.
Me: [comment about email]
PC: It takes at least two days for a crime reference to be generated. As it stands at the moment, it is likely that the crime report will be filed.
Me: Yeah, I know.
PC: Based on the fact that all I have is CCTV to go on.
PC: I will look through the serial numbers because it is possible that when the three officers did detain the male they called up and said, ‘we have a male detained, can we have CCTV or whatever’. That is possible. If that has taken place, the officer’s warrant number will be next to the radio call that has taken place and I’ll be able to make contact with that officer…
Me: Oh right
PC: … depending on whether it is Sussex, Kent or Hampshire, that changes how quickly I can get the answer back from them, to find out if anything was taken down in their notebook. Again, I can’t explain their actions…
Me: I’m not asking you to.
PC: I will do what I can do to find out who this person was.
Me: Had I realised that he might just be immediately released I would have just abandoned the crowd myself, stood by their side and said ‘I want this man prosecuted’, making it even more clear for them…
Me: … but even then they’ve still got a resources issue and I might even have added to the problem.
PC: What they can do in that circumstance is that they can take that person’s details and deal with the incident slow time. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen that just because they’ve got hold of him there, they have to deal with him there. They don’t have to take him to the custody suite and be taken down that route, as long as we have the person’s details then we can slow time it.
Me: Yeah, you’re right.
PC: I will do what I can do and figure out what has happened.
After PC Hold ended the interview, I informed him precisely what I was wearing on the day.