A ‘tacit’ licence to terrorise innocent people in the community
On 17 July 2016, a whole ‘brigade’ of Anti-Terrorist Police with machine guns, hand guns, and other weapons surrounded my house ready to smash my door down with battering rams, and all because they were ‘hunting’ for terrorists, based on a ‘hunch’.
It was around 1.00 a.m. when I was woken by a phone call: “Mum, get downstairs and open the door, police with guns are outside the house!”
Half asleep and angry at my son for waking me, I got up in confusion and quickly put on my robe before running downstairs to see what he was talking about. When I opened the door and saw what was in front of me, I was in utter shock; I simply could not believe my eyes!
At first, I thought perhaps my son had got himself into a fight and that the police had caught up with him, but then I realised it wasn’t that at all. It was an Anti-Terrorist raid, about to happen in my house!
Looking out the front door, I saw that the whole of my street had been blocked from both ends, with a number of police vans lined up in the middle of the road, not to mention dozens of armed police pointing machine guns at my son, and others now coming towards me.
My neighbours were having a ‘field day’ (although it was in the night), with all nearby windows and doors slamming wide open and all eyes pointing at my house, not to mention the passers-by standing around at a distance to try to see what was happening.
I had no option but to remain calm and to invite the police into the house. This was for two reasons – to make sure my son didn’t get shot and to get the guns away from him, and to get away from the neighbours and their intrusive stares.
Now that I had a much clearer view of them, I noticed the sheer weapon power the police were carrying – machine guns, hand guns, batons, hand cuffs, and more, as well as most of them seeming at least 7ft tall, with heavy, built bodies, while I was tiny – less than 5ft nothing.
Furthermore, I noticed the heavy metal bar (the battering ram) that was being carried by one of them; I have no doubt this would have been used to smash my door down if I hadn’t answered.
This had only been avoided by the fact that my son was out in the garden smoking, otherwise I’m sure the ‘guns blazing’ anti-terror police ‘squad’ would have been smashing my door down; he noticed them and quickly called me to open the door before it could happen.
He’d thought that my house was being burgled and had shouted out, “Who’s there?” when he heard heavy footsteps piling up on the streets outside my main door. It was at this point he was faced with the machine guns pointing at him, the police pinning him against the wall and ordering him not to move unless he wanted his brain to get ‘blown’ off.
Once I’d invited them in and the guns were no longer pointing at my son, I started questioning them about their actions, but frustratingly, they could not provide any good reason; it was apparently a ‘hunch’ or maybe a tip-off. Those reasons weren’t good enough for me, or for my son who was even angrier now than before.
My son had always said that the police are thugs and that they target young Asian Muslim boys for no reason, so he was adamant they’d be looking at him, as he was the only man in the house. Previously, he’d been arrested along with his friends for a crime on a Bedfordshire University student, but was later released. As he left, one of the policemen said, “Sorry guys, all you Asian boys look the same.”
When we started asking them more questions, it soon became apparent that they didn’t have a clue who they were looking for, but they did say they were looking for guns and that they needed to search the premises.
When my son and myself started asking for evidence, they tried to throw their weight around, using bullying tactics and making demands that my son should give them the keys to his car (this was when they found out he owned a car). There was no way my son and I were going to give them any keys without first seeing some proper paperwork from them.
When they tried to throw in some laws for their search, we did our best in return to throw them some legal arguments against their demands. My son said: “I don’t trust you lot; you come here all ‘guns blazing on a witch hunt’ with no idea who you’re after or what exactly you’re looking for,” before further adding, “If I give you my car keys, without a doubt you will ‘plant’ a gun in there and have me done! You lot are legalised thugs, worse than the normal police!”
He refused to give the car keys to them, and turning to me, he said, “Mum, you are the house owner; if they don’t have a warrant you can ask them to leave, so can you tell them to leave now please?”
Agreeing, I said, “My son is right. Did you not do your homework before coming to raid someone’s house? You could have at least checked who lives here!” I then went on to add, “The house mainly consists of women and children – including a baby – and you were ready to smash it down while people were asleep?”
My questions were clearly starting to frustrate them, especially as I was recording their every move – they hadn’t thought they’d be faced with a professional lawyer holding a video camera up to them, I’m sure.
I agreed that without any paperwork I could ask them to leave my house, and that’s exactly what I did, calmly telling them to get out. They seemed to think about this for a moment, then said they would leave if my son gave them his name. Of course, as soon as he gave his name, they decided to arrest him.
They gave their reason – on suspicion of possession of firearms – which of course gave them the power to now search my house under Section 32.
While my son was taken down to Luton Police Station, the search dogs and other specialist police officers arrived to search my house for guns. My daughters – who were aged twelve and thirteen at the time – had to get up from their beds and rounded up in the kitchen while the specialist team searched every inch of my house and garden – looking for guns based on a ‘tip off – a hunch’.
The search did not finish until about 3 a.m. And they found? Nothing! Of course they didn’t find anything. What a waste of time, not to mention tax payers’ monies.
If my son hadn’t been smoking in the garden at the time, the situation could have been much worse, I’m sure; I simply cannot imagine what the scene would have been like if we’d all been asleep and the door had been smashed in, with all the police and their machine guns making their way in to terrorise us, taking us for terrorists!
My son was ill with abdominal pain while being held in the police cell, but he was released the next day, without charge.
They had taken his car and his phone, but after making some complaints to the Police Commissioner and threatening to take legal action against them, the items were released to him very quickly.
My message to the Police Commissioner included the following:
“I am aware you are on a WITCH HUNT FOR TERRORISTS, but when you treat ordinary people as terrorists on a ‘hunch’ without proper evidence, you are not doing any good building a reputation within the community.”