Battersea Power Station and Grosvenor Bridge
While taking this series of shots of Battersea Power Station in the early hours a police car pulled up on Grosvenor Road and two officers, one female, one male got out. They told me that they were stopping me under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and asked what I was doing.
"Taking photos," said I.
"What of?" asked she
"Battersea Power Station," I said. "Would you like to see some."
"Yes, if you don't mind," she said.
I showed her a picture.
"Can I see some more?"
I showed her 6 or 7.
"They're very good," she said. "Have you go any ID?"
"Yeah," I said, handing her my driver's licence... "what do you need that for?"
"If we stop anyone under the Prevention of Terrorism Act we have to fill in some paperwork. Do you have any possessions?"
I pointed at my bike with a bag on the panier.
"Just that," I said.
"Okay... well, even looking through your camera constitues a search so we have to fill in the form."
She started filling in Form 5090: Stops and Searches.
"It's a beautiful building," said her colleague. "The thing is, we're in Central London and we have to be really careful these days. I like your shots though... very nice. What do you do with them?"
"Nothing really," I said. "I'll probably put a couple of them on a website."
"Right. What website is that then?"
"Oh flickr!" said the WPC, stopping her form-filling for a moment. "I've got photos on there. Photos of my wedding from 7 weeks ago."
"Really?" I asked. "It's good isn't it? Oh... and congratulations on 7 weeks ago."
"Thanks," she said with a smile. "So... have you ever been arrested?"
She picked up her walkie talkie and contacted someone else, asking them to run a check on my name. There was no awkward break in the conversation though as her colleague picked up the slack.
"So, is digital the same as a film camera at night?" he asked.
"How do you mean?"
"Y'know, exposure time and all that... with the poor light," he explained.
"Yeah, I guess so," I said. "That's why I like night time photography. But I've never been any good with film."
The walkie-talkie crackled into life to tell them there was no match with my details.
"Do you mind if I write down that website?" asked PC Chap.
"It's flickr.com" said PC Lady.
"There are thousands of people posting photos there." I explained.
"How do I find yours?" he asked.
"flickr.com, slash photos, slash dgbalancesrocks," I said. "Don't ask."
"Here's your copy of the form," she said, handing it to me. "Nice chatting to you. You can carry on if you like."
"Thanks," I said. "Have a good evening."
"Thanks," said he.
"Thanks," said she.
And they drove off into the night. It was all surprisingly jolly. A novel good cop/good cop routine.
I've got the form here.
Stop Code: B = To check personal details/documents.
Search Code: J = Terrorism 44(2)
Outcome Code: 1 = No further action
Search started 12.55am. Search ended 12.57.
Grounds for Search or Reason for Stop:
Male seen taking photos of powerstation. Vicinity of bridges, within government security zone. Stopped under terrorism act.
They were both lovely and chatty. It was a surprisingly friendly and untroubled exchange. If either of them have popped along to see if the photos have been posted: Hello!