Watch: Officer threatens man with arrest on his way to work
A police force has apologised for the “unacceptable” behaviour of one of its officers after a man was stopped and threatened with arrest while on his way to work.
The man, named by the BBC as 21-year-old Nino Romano, was challenged by the officer outside Dorridge station in Solihull on Wednesday.
A video of the exchange, in which the officer called him an “idiot” and eventually detained him, went viral on social media.
He had refused to give the officer his details, saying he was going to work and asking why the officer wasn’t speaking to other people walking around the station.
Under the government’s coronavirus lockdown rules for England, people are allowed to leave their home to go to work if they “cannot reasonably work from home”.
The officer was with a colleague, who remained silent through the entire exchange.
In its apology, West Midlands Police said “his manner was not acceptable… and we will deal with the situation”.
As the footage begins, the male uniformed officer, accompanied with a female colleague, can be seen in a marked patrol car on the street outside the station.
The officer then asks the man, who is a few feet away: “What you up to?”
“I’m on my way to work, mate,” replies the male, with the officer then saying: “You’re going to work, do you live round here, where do you live?”
When the male gives the officer a street name, the officer says “what’s your name, buddy?” with the man replying “don’t worry about that”.
The officer then asks: “What do you mean don’t worry about it?
“We’re here to enforce legislation, mate, so I need to know who you are.”
The man says: “You don’t need to know who I am, I haven’t committed an offence.”
“Do you want to turn your body-cam on?” he adds.
The police officer replies: “Yeah, if you want me to, but we’ll be dealing with this in a different manner now.”
The officer then gets out of his patrol car, followed by his colleague, telling the male: “Right then, under coronavirus legislation you have to provide me with some details, otherwise you’re going to be arrested.”
He adds: “So if you fail me to provide me with some details, you’re going to be arrested mate.”
As the incident continues, the male says: “I’m going to get locked up for what? You’ve just pulled up on me, ask me for my name, I live round here.”
The officer replies he does not know the male lives locally and is “arguing”, adding: “So, that gives me reasonable suspicion that you’re telling me lies.”
The male says: “You’re obviously just harassing me.
“Because I’ve got a hoodie on, I’ve got a coat on, I’m on my way to work, I’m a normal citizen.
“Why would I allow someone to just pull me over?”
The officer then replies: “We’re the police, we’re not just someone, you idiot.”
The male adds: “What, so just because you’re the police, that gives you the right to stop anyone you want and get their details?
“You need to be reinformed about the law.”
The police officer then detains the male, putting him in the back of the police car, adding: “We’ll sort this out at the station – you’re going to be late for work.”
In an apology posted on Twitter, West Midlands Police said:
“We’ve reviewed video footage of one of our officers challenging a man near Dorridge train station, Solihull, [on Wednesday morning].
“It’s clear that the officer’s conduct fell far below what we would expect.
“His manner was not acceptable, not the face of West Midlands Police, and we will deal with the situation.
“The officer has accepted his behaviour was not up to our high standards and we will address this as part of an action plan for his learning and development.
“The officer was with a colleague on patrol & part of their duties was ensuring people are adhering to COVID restrictions.
“The man explained he was heading to work – that’s clearly a justifiable reason to be out and about and there was no suspicion he had committed any offences.
“As such, he should not have been challenged in the way he was.”
Police forces have been under renewed scrutiny since Boris Johnson imposed the national lockdown on 4 January.
In another incident on 6 January, two friends were fined £200 each having driven five miles to meet for a walk in a Derbyshire beauty spot – with their fines later rescinded and Derbyshire Police apologising.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown