back to article Armed police swoop on MP3-packing mechanic

An innocent Stoke-on-Trent garage mechanic enjoyed a spell in the cells after armed cops held him at gunpoint having mistaken his MP3 player for a pistol, the Daily Mail reports. Darren Nixon, 28, was grooving to some tunes on his black 4GB Philips on his way to catch a bus on 26 January "when a woman thought she saw him …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    So from now all we have to do is find a phonebox/PAYG mobile and give the police a good description of someone we don't like and they get added to the DNA database (along with the attendant rubber glove treatment)?

    I shall bear that in mind next time somebody bumps me on the street and doesn't apologise or somebody cuts me up at traffic lights.

  2. Ferry Boat

    Ho ho ho

    Another innocent on the DNA database. Ho ho ho.

    They'll get us all in the end.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me guess.

    Here's one side of the conversation:

    Ring ring.


    Woman: "Police please!"


    Woman: "I just saw a man with something that looked like a gun in his hands, on the bus."


    Woman: "I, yes, I think so."


    Woman: "He was holding it, he might've been aiming it I suppose. Yes, yes I'm sure he could well have been. It was definitely in his hands."


    Woman: "Yes, I remember what he looked like."




    Woman: "Thank you very much, I just felt so panicky when I saw it! Bye bye."


    Note to everyone who does this: report what you _see_, not what you think you saw. If you're uncertain, then be so. Don't make up an answer to avoid seeming silly. That is all.

  4. Daniel Dainty
    Thumb Up

    That's a Denial of Service attack, that is

    Fantastic way to piss someone off, just phone in a report that they might be packing something. Voila.

  5. phill

    excuse me the party is too loud

    So this guy is now on the DNA database

    lucky him

    so if i want to realy annoy one of my neighbours all i have to do is claim to have seen a gun in there posetion

    then break into my own home and plant some of there dna in some way

    slam dunk soloution to neighbours from hell

  6. Test Man

    And imagine...

    ... if he had reached for his MP3 player to turn it off. Another shooting incident like the Stockwell tube one.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Future versions might cause some confusion

    Imagine the time it'll take to sort out when MP5 players are released!

  8. Andrew West
    Paris Hilton

    DNA evidence

    Awesome, go out listening to an MP3 player and get your DNA put on file. AFAIK that stuff is still kept permanently on file even if you where innocent of any crime.

    Paris Hilton? Probably something to do with DNA collection.

  9. Jay


    I suppose it would be foolish to think they destroyed the DNA (and other) records once they discovered he hadn't technically done anything wrong?

  10. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Down

    Predicatably enough...

    "Nixon was fingererprinted, swabbed for DNA and had his mugshot taken before being released. "

    And exactly how long would it take this completely innocent person to get these records, which shouldn't have been taken in the first place, removed? "Sorry for any inconvenience"? My *rse.

  11. Alexander Hanff

    DNA Database

    OK so if it was all a big mistake then I am sure the police will be more than happy to remove the victims details from the DNA database then?

    I would get my coat but I might get shot for wearing it as it might have gas lighter in the pocket...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    I hope...

    ... He will demand a full inquiry into what will happen with his DNA samples, and everything else. I would. And I hope he's going to the papers with this.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Thank god he wasn't brazilian

    Or he wouldn't have been around to tell the tale.

    Black helicopters because they're hovering behind my while I listen to choons on my iPod.

  14. Daniel Silver badge

    Problem solved

    If he'd had a white iPod this wouldn't have happened.

    It's his own fault, I mean a _black_ MP3 player? What did he expect? I for one can clearly see the confusion caused to the poor woman who reported it, small square black objects being as they are easily mistaken for fricking great firearms.

    Mine's the trenchcoat with ammo pockets and built-in shotgun harness

  15. michael

    well ok but

    the police have to react to reports of fire arms but after it was obvious that he was not a "mental gun nut" they should have grovled and releced him and removed all records is suspision life time prof now?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is his DNA kept?

    Do the police have to destroy the DNA & finger prints now? Or can we all expect to have our details taken in the same way?

  17. Richard

    Still guilty even after proven innocent?

    Okay, so purge the DNA sample from the database and his fingerprints? No? Oh for a free and fair society!

    Surely the cops should arrest the person who "mistook" this guy for a shooter-packing mechanic and do them for "wasting police time" ... ding! Another set of DNA and prints for the database.

  18. Jeremy

    He's lucky

    Police? Public transport? Guns? He's a lucky man!

    Mine's NOT the big padded one...

  19. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    Did they

    But did they check that all the files on his player were properly authorised?

    The penalties for copyright infringement can be worse than the penalties for illegal firearms .....

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Time to sue the bitch that falsely accused him and got his DNA added to the database.

  21. Red Bren
    Black Helicopters

    Lucky he wasn't stockwelled!

    By moving his hand towards the "gun" to switch his music off, it's a relief the police didn't respond with a hail of bullets. Perhaps he didn't look islamic enough?

  22. Scott Wichall
    Thumb Down

    @Ferry Boat

    Yeah, its lovely that isn't it. They won't be happy till big brother/nanny has all of us on there

  23. Anigel

    Gordy Clown

    Just looked like he had a gun in his pocket along with the rest of the twits in parliament

    Get those criminals on every database so they can lose all their details instead of ours ASAP

  24. Ian


    On what basis did they take his DNA, one wonders?

  25. Yorkie Abaper

    Lucky he didn't have a table leg.. a carrier bag or they'd have plugged him.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    ...and the myopic granny?

    ...gets a friendly visit from the coppers for a nice cuppa with biscuits and a quick chat about what a good citizen she is? She should be thrown in the clinker too.

  27. VampyreWolf
    Thumb Down

    Seems oddly familiar

    Seem to recall another well known case over there, July 2005, where the "suspect" was released with 'no futher action'...might help if the law enforcement wasn't trigger happy.

  28. Mark

    pope on a friggin rope

    So the police "capture" this man and find that there is no gun on him.

    So they arrest him anyway.


  29. Anonymous Coward

    GORDON BROWN HAS A GUN!!!!!!!!!!

    Maybe. This tip might be incorrect.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    OK! you are spot on

    Blame the stupid lady or Steve Jobs for designing the gun oh I mean the Ipod, but can't really blame the police, it's standard procedures. Just bad luck mate......

  31. Dan B

    @ test man


    And the conduct of the police in this matter does not surprise me, a quick 'sorry for the inconvenience' is bullshit, I would still feel like a suspected criminal without a full proper apology AND my DNA being taken off the database.

  32. Cameron Colley

    How could he have had a gun?

    I'm afraid I don't understand something here -- how could he possibly have had a gun when they're illegal?

    Still, I'm glad that the police took a swab of this guy's DNA -- I mean, the DNA database now contains one more innocent person, which has to be a good thing, right?

    He should count himself lucky though, really, at least he wasn't shot for not responding or held for copyright theft.

  33. Alexander Hanff
    Thumb Up

    Gordon Brown?

    So in theory we could organise a mass phone-in (police telethon?) where we all describe a strange man walking into 10 Downing Street who looks like Gordon Brown and appeared to be waving an AK47 around?

    Sounds like a plan... let's call it "Operation Unelected Asshat"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Okay, well considering the description that the police got:

    "We received a report from a member of the public who had seen a male in the area who had appeared to pull a hand gun from a jacket pocket, grip it with both hands and aim it towards something."

    If indeed the caller clearly stated that he had a hand gun and used it in the manner reported then the police acted correctly, the fault was with the 'terrified' member of the public (read:lying busybody) in mis-reporting the call; It's lucky we didn't end up with another De Menezes.

    The problem does still remain of his DNA being on permenant file (unless he wants to fight for years to get it cleared off).

  35. John Imrie
    Dead Vulture

    Product Recall

    HMG has notified all UK citizens that the product 'liberty' has been permanently withdrawn due to incompatibilities with the 'War on Terror' product.

    In a press release a government spokesperson said the new War on Terror product had conflicted with the older product and as the new product was proving to be so lucrative to to the UK economy the Government had been forced to withdraw it.

    The press release went on to state that the following products would be developed to replace liberty.

    Detention without trial

    Deportation to countries with the death penalty

    Enforcement of democracy in the Middle East

    Support of dictators supporting enforcement of democracy in neighboring states in the Middle East

    Retention of DNA samples of people convicted of nothing

    The spokesperson said that in order to develop the above products all UK citizens would be required to voluntarily accept an ID card. Obviously any one not volunteering would be classified as a terrorist and forced to carry an ID card if they where ever released from prison.

  36. Ivan Headache

    The spokescopper concluded:

    "The description was extremely good and if that's the report we get we have to act quickly."

    Apart from the gun bit.

  37. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Hmmm

    He really should have refused the DNA swab. You can do that, you know. There's very little information you are obliged to give the police when you are arrested, although they will phrase their entreaties in such a way as to make it sound like you have no choice, and if you're a decent law-abiding type you're likely to be dazed and anxious to be a good citizen and do as they tell you. Polite refusal just means you might have an hour or two longer in the cell, but better that than ending up on the database for something you didn't do.

  38. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    iMac-10 ?

    Surely Apple's R&D department should be working on a gun shaped mp3 player/smartphone? "Just point at your temple and pull the trigger to shuffle songs"

    You could even build in a FPS 'lazerquest style' shooter game, playable in any public area... beat that Nintendo Wii!

    And anyway - don't you think you should at least have to be charged with some sort of offence before going on the DNA database?

  39. crashIO

    Judging the Judger

    Let me guess...he was of a darker complexion than white and the lady that phoned it in had likely never seen an MP3 player up close. That is it for me, I am losing my tan before I get labeled an Islamic Extremist.

    Alien because we can all be accosted for little to no reason beyond just looking different.

  40. crashIO

    To Ian

    Likely, if it is like in the States, some regions have local laws requiring DNA retrieval if questioned at the station, which means, more often than not, you are questioned at the station.

    I wonder if I can patent my DNA. At least then if they confiscate it if I am detained and have some legal recourse to retrieve "my" property.

  41. Pat
    Black Helicopters

    Careful with that soldering iron..

    And any black mobile 'phones, MP3 players, spectacles case etc you may have in your pockets; anything dark like these that fits in the hand and may be waved at or may be pointed at somone/something may now fall under the VCRB, and armed plod may be called!

    Explanatory Notes to Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006:

    242. Subsection (2) provides that an imitation firearm is not to be regarded as distinguishable from a real one if it could only be distinguished by an expert, on close examination or as a result of an attempt to load or fire it. Subsection (3) provides that in determining whether an imitation is distinguishable from a real one, its size, shape and principal colour must be taken into account. An imitation is to be regarded as distinguishable if its size, shape or principal colour is unrealistic for a real firearm. In this connection, subsections (4), (5) and (6) provide a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations (subject to the negative resolution procedure) specifying dimensions and colours which would be regarded as unrealistic.

  42. Shaun

    Is it just me.........

    .........or are they getting a lot tougher on illegal music downloads.........

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For god's sake

    What lovely people the police are. When they searched him and found no gun, they knew perfectly well there was no crime and that should have been the end of it. They took him to the police station to get his DNA on file. No other possibility exists.

    Re the AC hoping he mounts a campaign to get his DNA deleted - well, I hope he does too, but I suspect he has a life and won't bother. I doubt I would, in all honesty.

    Anonymous because I have an MP3 player - worse, I often stick my hand in my coat pocket to locate the skip track button by feel, which could be interpreted as drawing a gun.

  44. Steve Anderson

    If only this happened...

    ... to the sort of person who says "If you've got nothing to hide, what's the problem?" about ID cards, that sort of thing. Or any member of staff from the Daly [Mail|Express] on general principal.

  45. ElFatbob

    @ Ian

    Ths requirement for taking DNA is pretty low - you only need to be arrested on 'suspicion of a recordable offence'.

    As that accounts for nearly all offences, that means they can take it for pretty much anything. Notable exceptions are speeding and litter-louting, but the police want to include them as well.

  46. Jaster


    They arrested him on "suspicion of possessing a firearm" did he have one - no

    So why did they arrest him ?

    We have reason to believe you have a firearm

    I don't

    Can we check


    You don't have a weapon

    Bye ....

  47. greg

    What if he had a gun, legally ?

    I bet if he was any kind of man with a legal reason to have a gun, things would have been easier for him !

  48. Iain
    Thumb Up

    I for one (and obviously alone)

    am quite glad the police actually responded to the threat. I think one man, inconvenienced for an hour or so, is a small price to pay for knowing someone is watching out for us.

    Coming from the Birmingham area I would rather this than the police allowing the armed gangs to run even more amok than they do. As for this being a cynical DNA gathering exercise, I have not and have no plans to commit any crimes so I have no reason to worry about a sample being on a police database. The only minute danger is if my health insurance co. get their hands on it and then find I have some un-insurable genetic disease, (and admittedly, recently, the security of public data is a worry). I'd rather be mildly oppressed than dead.


  49. Les Matthew


    My my, isn't jumping to conclusions a wonderful thing. ;)

  50. k0rrupt10n
    Dead Vulture

    For all eternity

    So when his record is checked it'll show him having been "Arrested on suspicion of possession of a Firearm".

    Good show, Plod!!

  51. Hans

    Do it with one hand!


    " . . . seen a male in the area who had appeared to pull a hand gun from a jacket pocket, grip it with both hands and aim it towards something."

    Memo to self:

    Must do a crash course on txtng with one hand only on the phone as, clearly, guns need two hands to fire them

    Memo to self 2:

    Replace black mobile phone urgently before I get shot for using it

    Memo to self 3:

    Interim move, fit large bunny ears to mobile phone, or anything that makes it look not black and gun-like, nor like an mp3 player

  52. Mark

    @Sarah Bee

    But refusing will be considered resisting arrest...

  53. Andy Wager
    Thumb Down

    What a F%@*&ing liberty

    "Nixon was fingerprinted, swabbed for DNA and had his mugshot taken before being released."

    so now total innocents are being dna'd and printed, Fcuk me are they that desperate to fill up the database

  54. GrahamT
    Black Helicopters


    There was a picture of the guy on the front page of Metro this morning - he is white and fair haired. I don't think racism can be blamed in this instance. Of course he might have been wearing a hoody, and he is young - so obviously a gun-toting hoodlum.

    The nasty bit about this is that the police will keep his DNA on the database even though he is completely innocent of any crime, and he is now permanantly on their records as "arrested on suspicion of a firearms offence" (according to Metro, which is not the most reliable source)

    Our civil liberties activists should be up in arms (oops! not literally) about this. This is far more an erosion of civil liberties than being inconvenienced by a high frequency tone. (<off topic>I have tinitus so have that 24 hours a day, so don't understand all the fuss about "mosquitoes".</off topic>)

    Once they have all our DNA the black helicopters can pick us off at will.

  55. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @Sarah Bee

    No. You're at liberty to refuse fingerprinting or a DNA swab, and they can use force if they choose, - but they're not even supposed to take those if you haven't been charged with a recordable offence. They seem to be doing it as a matter of course because they're getting away with it.

    Oh, and I believe the samples should automatically be destroyed in this case, but he should get onto them and check. Like, now. They should never have been taken.

    I'm still absolutely astonished by this one, although I shouldn't be, as similar things happen rather a lot.

  56. Alexander Hanff
    Thumb Down

    re: I for one (Iain)

    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    nuff said.

  57. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Black Helicopters

    Time to get a new <MP3 Player

    My chair leg shaped one I keep in a plastic carrier and obvious Scottishness combined with my swarthy complexion are going to lead me astray

  58. Alexander Hanff

    re: Andy Wager

    You should read the news more frequently your comment sounds like you believe this is a new trend when in reality it has been going on for years. How many hundreds of thousands of children are currently on the DNA database for no reason? Google has the answer (so does El Reg in a previous article).

  59. Andy Enderby
    Dead Vulture


    Mildly opressed..... What do you mean, like Menezes or the other unfortunates mentioned in this thread?

    It's human nature to make mistakes, and in incidents where firearms are suspected to be involved enforcement officials are likely to be understandably twitchy, but come on........ No crime, held in cells, dna taken. Not good enough. If they had held him while they verified that in fact no offence had taken place then released him without the dna probe....fair enough. This ?

    How many liberties do you want to give up in the name of security ? In what way do any of these new measures materially affect our security in a positive way ? They don't, and with ID cards there is a very real risk that over confidence in them will actually compromise security. In the case of what seems to be about to become a global UK dna database, as the database grows exponentially, the response to searches is likely to decline somewhat..... as the demand for such searches climbs - more so. How long do you fancy spending in a cell while the poor bloody cops confirm that yes, the ID card you were carrying is one of a bunch that got cloned after some muppet left a CD in a pub or some such.


  60. GrahamT


    Re: "a legal reason to have a gun"

    There is no legal reason to have a handgun on the streets of Britain, unless you are an officer of the law, and then only in response to a firearms incident.

    (sports pistol shooters can only use them at licensed clubs, and must carry them in gun cases, not their pockets) So any handgun being waved by a member of the public is de facto illegal.

    The police acted correctly on information received, but then went too far by not releasing him without a record when they realised the mistake.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Loophole for the terrorists

    "An imitation is to be regarded as distinguishable if its size, shape or principal colour is unrealistic for a real firearm."

    I can see all the terrorists nipping to B&Q to buy a pot of pink hammerite for their AK47s.

    Paris likes pink.

  62. jimbarter

    Note to self

    Pull the curtains when I'm playing with my Wii zapper...


  63. mike


    see a lawyer then sue the police for wrongfull arrest then claim that you are so trumatised by the ordeal that you can no longer leave the house in fear of the police. i would

  64. Mark

    @Sarah Bee

    Aye, that's what SHOULD happen.

    Add 50p to that and you can buy a packet of crisps...

    Sad really.

  65. arran

    bit heavy handed

    for the RIAA...

  66. John

    Big Brother?

    "The police found me on CCTV and followed me."

    What amazes me in all of the above comments is that no one seems to care that this fellow was followed on CCTV. Or, should I say that, all you folks in the UK are just used to having no civil freedom in public? Have any of you read or seen the movie 1984? ?? You might want to familiarize yourself with the text or at least read the summary here:

  67. Maty

    someone to watch over me

    "I am quite glad the police actually responded to the threat."

    Oh, so are all of us, mate. The issue is what the cops did after they found that there was a perfectly innocent explanation for the misunderstanding. That was bloody well taking liberties in every sense of the phrase.

  68. Teh_Vermicious_Knid

    table leg.

    The geezer must be thanking his lucky stars that he wasn't black and carrying a table-leg in a plastic bag..he'd have been dead before he hit the ground!

    Nice one Coppers!

  69. Neil

    Black Devices

    Seeing as you appear likely to get the cops called on you for carrying anything black and about the right size (insert penis joke here), do you think we're likely to see a rise in gangsters painting their guns pink to avoid suspicion?

    Anyone remember Rule #8?

  70. Mectron

    i Saw

    all the board members of the RIAA carriying gun waving them arround and pointing them at the MPAA board members and they imediatly draw then own guns... please police do something...

  71. Ruana


    "Coming from the Birmingham area..."

    I've lived in Birmingham for over ten years and never once seen a gun on its streets, or even a knife. If there are armed gangs 'running amok', they don't do it in any of the areas I frequent. Granted, it's a big city, but to read your post one would think the whole place is a crime-ridden danger zone!

    I'm not nit-picking - this stuff matters. If people's fear of crime is overly inflated, that's a powerful weapon in the hands of the control freaks.

    And I've got no intention of ever committing a crime either - but I still don't want my details on that database. It seems the platitude 'If you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear' just can't be sufficiently debunked for some people...

  72. Brian Miller

    What was he actually arrested for ???

    It doesn't say why he went to the station in the first place. If he was under arrest he should have been told what for. If he wasn't under arrest then he CHOSE to accompany them to the station, which I doubt.

    If he was actually arrested he should slap them with a false arrest charge too.

  73. John Macintyre

    did anyone check

    if the woman who reported this had glasses a mile thick - 'Oh I think that man innocently stepping on the bus must be about to murder me cause my glasses make him look like he's standing on top of me'

    how about we even the pain - if they won't remove his dna and prints, lets put hers on the database, see how she likes it. muppet. observation is great, but a stupid attempt to be clever is just pathetic.

  74. Alexander Hanff


    I wonder if they will be able to sue the police for lost revenue as a result in a decline in sales for their Black 4GB mp3 players as their consumer's fear they will be shot by the police?

  75. Anonymous Coward

    Is that.....

    A gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me....

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Too much DNA

    I wonder how many cases could be closed if all the police had their DNA entered into the database. Of course I'm sure all the coppers on that side are as pure as the driven snow and not like those on this side of the Atlantic.

  77. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    @ By A J Stiles

    But did they check that all the files on his player were properly authorised?

    The penalties for copyright infringement can be worse than the penalties for illegal firearms.******

    The penalties for not being a terrorist are much worse.

    In fact they are much worse than the penalties for being a terrorist. (Unless they ship you to a Cuban Health farm and you die as they water their plants.)

    Come to think of that...

    If the US destroyed the evidence of their water-boarding... what are they going to do with the witnesses? They can never try them on US mainland soil and they can't release them without finding them guilty after all these years incarceration, can they?

    And the Supreme Court has ruled they can't be tried in GITMO...

    Glad I don't have an MP3 player.

    (I do really but it has two speakers on it and looks more like a pack of..dynah... hmm.)

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Of course, 'the what have you got to hide?' argument is not the main reason why innocent people should object to DNA collection. If a police officer asked me something on those lines, i would retort with 'nothing, but what have YOU got to hide?'. What would the inevitable* unsavoury elements within the police do with such material?

    The worse case is that anarchy breaks out and a dictator takes power. In this situation the police, who as history shows often become dictator's pets, could use the information gathered for genocide/oppression/etc (delete as required).

    *With recent huge recruitment drives and relatively attractive salary, there must be some officers with criminal intent.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another thing for Iain to consider

    If your DNA is on file and found even loosely associated with another crime, you will be pulled in and accused. And given the trust in the infallibility of forensics inculcated by fictions such as CSI, a jury is likely to convict you on that evidence, unless you have a perfect alibi.

    There has already been at least one near miss. Better start burning all your organic sheddings (hair and nail clippings, sundry unmentionables) so no one can frame you or use you unwitting as a decoy.

  80. Anonymous Coward

    Get it right, Sarah Bee...

    > An innocent Stoke-on-Trent garage mechanic enjoyed a spell in the cells after armed cops held him at gunpoint having mistaken his MP3 player for a pistol, the Daily Mail reports.

    No... the woman *reporting* it mistook his MP3 player for a pistol, not the armed police.

    Elfatbob has it correct - the DNA is required on being arrested for a recordable offence, not on being *charged* with same, so this lot all have it wrong...


    > The police acted correctly on information received, but then went too far by not releasing him without a record when they realised the mistake.


    > No. You're at liberty to refuse fingerprinting or a DNA swab, and they can use force if they choose, - but they're not even supposed to take those if you haven't been charged with a recordable offence. They seem to be doing it as a matter of course because they're getting away with it.

    By the way, I'm moderately amused by all of the numpties on here knocking the police "for recording his DNA when he hasn't done anything wrong" and "they should have released him without taking DNA when they realised it was all a mistake".

    It's not the police who decided that the DNA recording on ARREST is necessary, it was your beloved representatives in Parliament - do you think it was such a smart idea not to vote now? For God's sake, if you are going to let loose with ill-informed criticism, are you surprised by the results of failing to elect anyone with half a brain? Take an interest, read up on something before mouthing-off, and let the police get on with trying their best in a difficult job - there aren't many left and you are going to end up with a bunch of expensive useless CSOs as the inevitable result of Government penny-pinching.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    I'm just a small town chicken but....

    It seems to me that the moral of the story is to paint your gun iPod white.

    Everyone's a winner!!!

  82. Mark

    Re: What was he actually arrested for ???

    Think of it. Armed police. Pointing guns at you. One says "Please come with us".

    Do you know (really know) that you're allowed to say "no"? The police don't volunteer that information.

  83. Dan


    Quote "What amazes me in all of the above comments is that no one seems to care that this fellow was followed on CCTV. Or, should I say that, all you folks in the UK are just used to having no civil freedom in public? Have any of you read or seen the movie 1984?"

    John, that's how bad this stuff has got - being followed round town via surveillance camera is old news in the UK, been happening for a while! Believe me, many of the above posters absolutely DO care (and are scared witless having read 1984), but we are well past that point now.

  84. Ian
    Black Helicopters

    re: another thing for Iain to consider

    But that's got nothing to do with having your DNA on file. If someone has your toenail clippings and leaves them at a crime scene, all it takes is an anonymous call to the police that you were witnessed at the scene acting strangely and robert is your mother's brother, you are banged to rights (without, as you say a perfect alibi - but if someone is trying to stitch you up, they'll choose a time that you have no alibi). The DNA database won't make this kind of framing activity much easier, it's already pretty easy.

    Are you going to refuse to 'rule yourself out of the inquiry' when you know you're innocent? Of course not, you'll offer your DNA to prove your innocence and get yourself convicted by doing so. The DNA database is almost irrelevant to framing, it's very relevant to keeping information about yourself private. I may have a familial medical condition or relationship that I want kept confidential. I do not trust the police or the government to act in my interest in this area.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"Operation Unelected Asshat"

    Unelected? Gordon Brown was elected Prime Minister in exactly the same way as Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and so on before that - he was elected Prime Minister by the MPs that the people elected to Parliament at the last election.

    If you're going to express a political opinion, at least go to the trouble of understanding how your political system works!

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Procedures, Procedures

    The trouble is that young plod has a set of operational procedures that they have to follow. If they hadn't, and it had all been real, then we would have been after their blood, heads would role, questions asked, and the law and procedures tightened further, shoot on sight, would be the demand from the red tops. Those same red tops probably don't give a stuff about the civil rights issues surrounding this, and niether does the vast majority of their readers. Just as no one cared much about a table leg in a bag.

    I'm waiting for a builder to be shot dead for using a power screwdriver, the handles of which look much more like a gun.

    I also seem to remmeber that once you get your DNA on the system you can't get it removed because of the way the law is worded, if they have a valid reason to arrest you, then they can keep the biometrics, just in case you happen to be the Blagdon amature rapist.

  87. James Pickett
    Black Helicopters


    We just have to hope that Smith & Wesson never decide to make media players...

  88. Mark

    To the two ACs

    Gordon Brown wasn't elected PM like TB, JM, MT, et al (though maybe Major didn't have to get a vote from the public to get in, he did have to get voted in by the members of the party).

    And to the other AC, are they channelling the spirit of Magnus Magnussen? "I've started so I'll finish"? The police cock up in real situations and we blame them for it. Why? BECAUSE THEY FUCKED IT UP. And guess what? They fucked this up too. And whaddayaknow? We're telling them off again. Maybe, just maybe, they'll get the hint and do things RIGHT.

  89. Grant
    Black Helicopters

    Dodgy looks

    Apparently you can get your DNA removed from the database - in "exceptional circumstances".

    And i'm now wondering how many near misses I may have had as I reach into my inside jacket pocket* to adjust the volume on my music player, every day, on public transport... or get my black, square phone out...

    Obviously the only answer is to require all guns to be painted fluorescent orange to avoid these sorts of mistakes.

    * possibly looking just like a person going for their gun to those with a febrile imagination or of a paranoid persuasion.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grateful for the American revolution and the Bill of Rights

    I'm glad we threw off the yoke of British oppression way back when. I'd hate to be living in the nanny state annex.

    At least here it's legal to have a handgun in your pocket. Though too many local governments refuse to concede that point, and you are likely to get harrassed if it is showing.

    AC so they can't find me. :)

  91. Morely Dotes

    @ Pat

    Ah, then there's a get-around for the VCRA, isn't there? Just spray-paint your real gun some unrealistic colour, such as International Orange, and you can carry it anywhere you like.

    No, I'm not kidding. It's time UK citizens once again had the ability to defend themselves from uniformed terrorists.

  92. Martin Usher

    Only arrested

    The LASD (the Los Angeles County police force) have shot people (dead) for brandishing a TV remote control. Its now the law in California that toy guns have bright orange parts on them, its an attempt to prevent jumpy cops from accidentally nailing kids (that's happened as well).

    ...and we're used to the things.

    What that lady didn't realize is that a useful sized weapon, something like a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, is a whole lot bigger than a MP3 player. If it were player sized it would probably be chromed or something, more of a fashion statement (!) than a serious weapon.

    What's MP3 sized and a weapon is a Taser. In fact they've shown one that has a MP3 player built in (its for the jogging market)(obviously you have to be careful about which bit you stick in your ear).

  93. Anonymous Coward

    say no to facist web developers trying to enforce mandatory fields

    "fingererprinted, swabbed for DNA and had his mugshot taken"

    My guess is he 'consented'. He should still sue the tits off them plus do an FOI request for the name and address of the stasi informant.

    Still, lucky it wasn't in London..

  94. Colin Wilson
    Thumb Down

    Was the "suspect" de-arrested ?

    The guy should have been "de-arrested" - he will no longer be able to get into the US without having to phuck about getting a visa in person* in either London or Ireland now (I think they're the only two embassies in the UK).

    * having been arrested, he is no longer able to sign the standard visa waiver prior to landing

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The major benefit of an all encompassing DNA database ...

    is that eventually (and not too far into the future) it will contain so many DNA samples that any crime scene with free public access (eg., hotel rooms, parks, virtually anywhere expect private homes) will turn up so many matches that DNA will become useless as a way of establishing an individual's presence at the scene during the commission of the crime.

    To an extent this has already happened, when some poor sod was acussed of vandalising a post box on the basis that his DNA was found at the scene - or did he just happen to post a letter there at some stage? It won't take too many of these cases for the database to loose credibility as a generic crime fighting tool, especially when plod's accountants start to sqwark at the impact of all those sidetracked investigations on their operating budget.

    I predict that a large enough DNA database will ultimately make most crime scene investigations impossibly complicated and expensive due to the large number of potential suspects that will need to be eliminated, and the technique will be quietly dropped, except for cases where there is a definite link between a given DNA sample and the perpetrator eg., DNA recovered from a rape victim.

    Because she knows about collecting DNA samples

  96. david clarke

    Machine-gun shaped liquor bottle leads to arrest

    I saw this on TV a couple of days ago. I wonder what would have happened to Darren Nixon here in Canuckistan?


  97. Jon Tocker

    @ "Grateful for the American revolution and the Bill of Rights"

    I certainly hope you had your tongue in your cheek and were being sarcastic in your post.

    The USA is as much of a "nanny state" as the UK - and your "Bill of Rights" and much vaunted "2nd Amendment" (to which you alluded in your post) have done precisely "fuck all" to prevent the establishment of the "Patriot Act", the monitoring of electronic communications without warrant and the NSA being directed to spy on other agencies within the USA (amongst other breaches of your basic freedoms).

    Your Constitution and your Bill of Rights are the second and third biggest jokes on the planet - right after the phrase: "The Land of The Free".

    Go on, take out your 2nd-Amendment-guaranteed firearm and see if it makes the Patriot Act and GW Bush's other unilateral breaches of your civil liberties magically go away.

    Regrettably, the "nanny state" thing is slipping insidiously throughout the entire "Western World", fuelled by "terrorism" scaremongering - UK, USA, Europe, even here in New Zealand.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Very sad

    For the first time in my life I'm sad to say that I'm now more afraid of the Police than of criminals. If my house was burgled tomorrow I'd now worry about calling the Police in case they decided to investigate me and take my DNA. I feel abandoned by the people who are supposed to be there to protect me.

    I work in some violent countries and need military security clearance to do my job. If I was ever arrested in this manner it would blight my career for life. I shouldn't have to worry about how I carry my iPod or laptop or if I look at people coming down the stairs whilst I'm waiting for a train in a civilized country.

    The bird. He was obviously wearing unseasonably warm feathers for the time of year...

  99. Andy
    IT Angle


    FWIW we don't elect PM's, we elect political parties.

  100. Andy
    IT Angle

    He's gonna be annoyed

    When he next attempts to fly to the USA - he'll be refused entry if his info is still recorded. Removing his info is next to impossible and has happened to a few people.

  101. Jeff Deacon

    Just remember the word "fear"

    Another of the reasons why this is a doubleplus good action by Plod, is that is accentuates the general feeling of fear that our wise leaders wish us to benefit from. It doesn't really matter what the population is afraid of, so long as the people are afraid. As long as fear is the dominant emotion the government can get away with blue murder.

  102. Anonymous Coward

    In defence of the Police..

    ..he was listening to an illegal download of the Beatles album; Revolver.

  103. Dougthedug

    DNA retention

    Information on how DNA is retained in England and Wales is here:

    Once it's in, it's in for all time.

    Luckily for us in Scotland it's a different system:

  104. Ivan Headache

    @ AC

    "Blame the stupid lady or Steve Jobs for designing the gun oh I mean the Ipod, but .." read the story and you'll find there's no mention of Steve Jobs at all.

    Just an old lady, a man on a bus and a "PHILIPS" mp3 player.

  105. Anonymous Coward

    Reality Sucks - As Does Uninformed Bias

    Who knows what that woman saw and, most importantly, in what context, but no-one here is in any position to make an informed jugement. What would YOU do (or should you do) if you HONESTLY BELIEVED that you saw someone pointing a gun? And how precisely should an ARV crew react if told to tackle a reported gunman; give him the benefit of the doubt? Get real guys, hindsight and ignorance are wonderful things.

    @Michael: How was it obvious ON THE STREET that the guy was not a "Mental Gun Nut" .... do you know what one looks like? The cops certainly don't, no offence to the guy in question, but bad guys and the disturbed can and do come in all shapes and sizes.

    @Ruana: The Police Armed Response Vehicles (ARV's) in Birmingham are some of the busiest in the country, Why? Because of the sheer volume of gun related crime there; sorry but I'm afraid there's rather a lot of it that goes on - mostly criminal on criminal and often requiring several armed Police deployments each and every shift! Not seen any? Lucky you.

    @VampyreWolf: How many times are you required to shoot at people before you're classified as trigger happy? The fact is at any given moment there are hundreds of police officers carrying weapons operationally in the UK. They do this year in year out and have done so for decades - and in all that time well over 99% have never fired in anger and probably never will. Yes, they frequently deploy with guns but invariably resolve a situation without ever firing a shot.

    How many bad guys quickly discard weapons and/or evidence when they fear they're about to be nicked? Take a guess - yep, practically all of them - what would YOU do in the criminal's position, willingly incriminate yourself? Duh!

    So the call comes in and it is treated seriously; the guy is captured but doesn't THEN have a gun on him - no suprise to the cops, it often goes that way - so he's swifted away and processed in accordance with Statute Law. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act gives Custody Officers very little leeway on that. Don't like the law? - get active in politics. In the meantime, the area would have been secured and searched for the discarded weapon. It is only after that takes place that you can establish that there is/isnt sufficient evidence to proceed, whether or not your guy genuinely guilty. Believe it or not, its not just innocent people that plead their innocence and there's still a dire shortage of telepaths in the Police. If you know a quicker, easier and more efficent way to establish truth than gathering evidence please share it with me, we'd be billionaires!

    I've had a very long and eventful Police career and in recent years have personally recovered functional (and often loaded) guns disguised as mobile phones, fountain pens, belt buckles and walking sticks, some improvised some manufactured. Not to mention knives, swords, pistols, automatic weapons and explosives - sometimes in prodigious quantities! I have been involved in more than one murder enquiry where the offender's actions have come as a complete and hideous surprise to everyone that knew them; occasionally even to the offender himself! That my friend is just the way it is.

    Yes, I am trained and prepared to shoot if I have to but I am in no particular hurry to do so and, if given the choice, would rather not - this is our default attitude. In my Force alone, over the last 40 years, officers have carried guns for well in excess of 5 million manhours and in all that time the number of incidents that necessitated shots being fired can be counted on the fingers of one hand! Yes, people are occasionally shot and killed by police but a more informed perspective will reveal what a fortunately low ratio this still is in the U.K.

    Hell, I've even met New York patrol cops that went through their entire service without ever firing a shot but I guess that makes for bad copy and poor fiction. Sorry if the facts don't chime with your particular reality but then we all have our own prejudices and, as I said, ignorance and hindsight are wonderful things!.

  106. BitTwister


    > I think one man, inconvenienced for an hour or so, is a small price to pay

    A small price to pay for what, exactly - making it even easier to unjustifiably arrest someone & have DNA samples taken and stored? And how unlike that other example at Stockwell of being "inconvenienced" through similar bogus data. That man got "inconvenienced" for ever and this one could easily have ended in the same way.

  107. Name

    They will of course destroy his DNA data ??

    They will of course destroy his DNA data ??

    Or is Britain now THAT far gone!!??

  108. David


    Ireland is in the UK? I must remember to tell them that and see how they react

  109. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Dibble

    You are missing the point big-time.

    Yes, Plod was right to act on the tip-off.

    No, Plod should have searched the bloke on the spot, found he wasn't tooled up, apologised profusely and let him go. NOT dragged him down to the station, taken his DNA and dabs which he'll never get off the system and spent the rest of the afternoon filling in forms instead of going out and nicking /real/ villains.

    Shit, I'm channelling Gene 'unt.

  110. Ruana

    @Reality Sucks

    Yes, I know that there is a lot of gun crime in Birmingham, and I'm quite sure that I've unknowingly been in the vicinity of people who were carrying weapons. Furthermore, I would say that my state of blessed innocence in the matter has a lot to do with the work of the thin blue line. I have no beef with the action the police took in this matter, up until the point at which they found there was no gun but took the man's biometrics anyway. (And even that I'd be a lot less unhappy about if it weren't so fiendishly difficult to get back off the database once on it. In my opinion, that decision shouldn't be in the hands of the police - it should be routine to destroy the information if its owner has never been convicted of a crime, and requests that it be done.)

    What I was objecting to was Iain's implication that the Birmingham area was a lawless wasteland, as it seemed to be tied to his overly sanguine attitude to the database.

  111. Stuart Mckay

    Why wa he arrested?

    He was quite clearly arrested as it could have been very easy for him to dispose of the weapon ( if he had one by throwing it in a bin bush, garden river etc....

    So until a proper search could be conducted and appropriate evidence gathered from CCTV, he would need to have been detained, what if the police let him go, he picked up the weapon and went on to a school and killed innocent children.

    If that happened then the police would be held accountable, so lets not give them a hard time for doing their job on the inteligence that they have been given.

  112. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    At last, the RIAA are getting tough...

    They believed he had a downloaded a pirated Guns'n'Roses album.

    And if you need to be told why I chosde the coat icon, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you - aw, hell, just give me the money. This is an iRiver Magnum, the most most powerful mp3 player in the world; it could blow your eardrums clean off. And you're asking - did he play six tracks - or only five? Well, in all the excitement, I kinda lost count myself, so the question you have to ask is "Do I feel lucky? Or is he selecting S-Club 7's Greatest Hits?"

  113. Damian Gabriel Moran

    a gun...

    with headphones attached? Maybe the lady thought they were built in ear defenders.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Reality Sucks - As Does Uninformed Bias

    My friend, I rather think you missing the point of most of the posters here as to what is the problem...

    The problem is not that he was mistaken for carrying a weapon by a member of the public, or that he was arrested for it. If the same situation happened to me I would not mind, as I know in my own mind that I _wasn't_ carrying a firearm, and that it should eventually be established as that. The problem is that as part of the process his details, the arrest and his DNA has been recorded even though he was found to be innocent. It should be that now he has found to be innocent, all such details should be removed as the effects of this record are far-reaching, including getting visas for travel and his DNA being found at other crime scenes but , and I think this is the cruch of the problem, they are not. This is what most of us fear - the fact that in this day and age your life can be fucked up beyond all recognition because somebody else made a mistake and there is no recourse to have that mistake rectified.

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    if you're doing nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear!

    @ GrahamT: "...There is no legal reason to have a handgun on the streets of Britain, unless you are an officer of the law, and then only in response to a firearms incident..."

    there is no legal reason to have a handgun on the streets of britain, unless you are an officer of the law, and then only in order to shoot a completely innocent man six times in the head and not get so much as a slap on the wrist

    @ Anonymous Coward: "...I've had a very long and eventful Police career and in recent years have personally recovered functional (and often loaded) guns disguised as mobile phones, fountain pens, belt buckles and walking sticks..."

    it's a wonder james bond gets any work done at all, with the police constantly harrassing him like this!


    paris because - judging from the spam email i get - she knows how to handle a truncheon

  116. Juliette Martens
    Paris Hilton

    Easy mistake to make

    Let me get this straight. He "took aim", but then calmly put away his "pistol" - did the target move or something? All the way along the busroute and then to the man's home?

    I'd love to see the biddy who reported this; she'll undoubtedly start a campaign against everything black and shiny because it can be mistaken (so easily!) for a lethal weapon.

    Paris, because she'd have no problem with a man fumbling with something between his hands.

  117. spezzer

    stupid old bint... she doesnt even know what a real hand-gun looks like. why didnt the police send a bit more time getting a description of this fire-arm in the first place. "what size is it? about 3inches" , "can you see a handle? yes its black with a screen and buttons" - hmmm, okay - thank you caller.

    wheres the 'police are twats' icon?

  118. Ian
    Paris Hilton

    Useless politics

    Someone said something about getting involved in politics and voting etc.

    Here's the problem: At elections the parties have manifestos which generally have more or less fairly un-scary suff in them and one or two real stark raving mad ideas. As soon as the winner is declared they say the public has given them a mandate to to ALL the things they threatened.

    This is why democracy doesn't work very well (but its better than the alternatives, to paraphrase). Whoever you vote for you get nutters.

    Paris? Sounds a bit less controlled than London

  119. Anonymous Coward

    Should have said he was mates with Musharraf

    See this story:

    Apparently the police have promised to remove the dna and fingerprints of these chaps from the database.


  120. ElFatbob

    Re:Reality Sucks - As Does Uninformed Bias

    Fair points, but i guess my problem is that there is no way to remove DNA from the database where a person is not charged with a crime and is, as in this case, entirely innocent of the acusations.

  121. James

    Police Drones and other machines make mistakes...

    Things like this happening is half the reason that I left the UK, (hopefully for good), not that I would want return there once the restrictive laws that seems to be enacted by way of the backdoor politics going on there continue to be instituted by the paranoid politicians and acted upon by the drones in the police force.

    I'm not slating the Police Force, just stating that they accept their restrictions without question, but when it comes to innocent MP3 players then someone has to have a braincell and stop being so damned programmed and let the poor lad go.

    I think that if the lad had an ID card he'd have his details on there, including his permit to carry a loaded MP3 player too. Ok, ID cards exist in my country of residence, they work to a point yet they don't actually ensure integrity of data, anyone with the right equipment can clone them, as has been reported of late.

    Who's going to go and fingerprint the Afghanis sat in the mountains just to prove they're not terrorists planning attacks on Western targets when they try and enter legally into Europe. I doubt that their AK47s would be playing anything other than Heavy Metal "tunes" then...

    Playing with fire if you ask me...

  122. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What not to carry

    OOps better not carry a Big Boy Deluxe Black Edition out of its brown paper bag just in case you want attract police attention then . Or your DNA will be the last of your worries. Batteries with that Madame ?

    Paris ? ;)

  123. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why point a gun unless you intend to kill?

    Why point a gun at a person unless you intend to shoot and kill?

    Why should someone risk their own life by assuming that the person pointing a gun at you doesn't intend to shoot to kill?

    Humans are pretty strange.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Another step to Gordongrad

    So why isn't the identity of the halfwit who reported this obviously gun-toting lunatic made public? I for one would want to make damned sure I'm nowhere near this person of questionable judgement.

    What would have happened had the guy being winding up his Baylis Eco EP-MX71 hand cranked mp3 player? "Hello? Police? There's a nutter on the bus trying to blow it up!"

    So now this chap has a stain on his record and a slur on his character all because someone (who deserves to be named for public protection) thought they saw a gun in his hand. Has this person ever seen or handled a gun?

    We're heading towards Gordongrad, where people are encouraged to rat anonymously on people they don't like. Another wonderful advert for getting the fsck out of this country.

  125. Rolf Howarth
    Dead Vulture

    @Reality Sucks

    In a way, Reality Sucks has hit the nail on the head. He (or she) has once seen or read about a gun disguised as a mobile phone. Therefore, clearly, all mobile phones and MP3 players are suspect.

    Except of course that's crazy, but as a society we're so obsessed by avoiding risk and eliminating any contingency that's theoretically preventable - however unlikely it is - that we seem willing to put up with the most absurd things to avoid that risk.

    One kid (out of millions!) slips on a rock and drowns on a school trip - tragic as that incident is - doesn't mean that there should be no more school outings. One crook who's handy with a hacksaw and decides to try and hide a gun on him on his way to some drugs deal doesn't mean everyone carrying a mobile phone should be treated as a potential gun-toting terrorist and locked up and fingerprinted, on the merest unsubstantiated suggestion. One person with a small incendiary device (of doubtful viability) hidden in his shoe doesn't mean we should all have to fly barefoot. One convict on early release goes out and commits another crime doesn't mean we should lock every shop lifter up for life just in case they go out and steal something else.

    The list goes on and on and on.

    We should accept that accidents and mistakes DO occasionally happen, and move on. The high and mighty tabloid press looking to boost their sales, and politicians trying to make a quick headline, are far to willing to legislate and chip away at our liberty in response to the news of the day without thinking through the longer consequences.

    And as for policing... yes, I for one am a lot more concerned about the risk of falling foul of an overzealous bureaucratic officer doing his duty (never mind the consequences to me as an innocent citizen, "hey, I'm just following procedure") than of being the victim of a crime.

    The really daft thing is, we're so good at hindsight we keep reacting to the LAST threat. Some doctors have a bomb in Glasgow, so let's have a witch hunt in the NHS and ban cars from airports. Guess what, the terrorists are hardly likely to try exactly the same thing twice, are they? What will do when the next bomb is in a taxi at a train station, a baby buggy in a shopping centre, a 4x4 outside a school playground - ban those as well? (At least Ken Livingstone would be happy.)

    The dead bird represents common sense. It's a sad world we live in.

  126. Sam Therapy

    Was he listening to Spice Girls?

    If so, he deserved it for having an appalling record in the first place.

    Yup, that's my Kevlar vest, thanks.

  127. Dave
    Jobs Halo

    Marketing Opportunity

    Apple should be jumping all over this and releasing a police safe, blue, flashing iPlod.


  128. CaptainApathy
    Dead Vulture

    Harry Stanley

    Could have been worse - ask Harry Stanley. Oh, thats right, you can't.

  129. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Good description?

    She apparently gave an accurate description of the man - this means she got a good look at him and so she should have clearly seen what he was doing and carrying.

    Also, chances are he was waiting for the bus in full view of one of the CCTV cameras as they then followed him from zone to zone using them. Couldn't they have reviewed the footage from the time of the complaint?

    If they could have but didn't, I reckon he should sue the police for harassment, breach of H&S rules (pointed a dangerous firearm at him when it could have been avoided) and curtailing his rights of free travel (potentially denying him access to the US for his holidays).

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not 1984

    I feel it's worth pointing out that Britain is much, much worse than the dystopia of 1984. In 1984 the Proles, the ordinary working class, were free of constant surveillance by the Government - it was only the middle class who were spied on constantly.

This topic is closed for new posts.