Jailed by the Covid Stasi For Painting a Pub

12 November 2020  /  Updated 7 March 2021

My name is Paul and I am 63 years of age. I live in a village in Wales, with my wife of forty years Kate. Our local is fifty yards away from our home. In mid-May a number of the regulars got together and decided to renovate the pub. The pub was closed under the regulations at this time. The regulars gave freely of their time and money, some spending thousands of pounds out of their own pockets. They didn’t employ anyone as amongst the regulars is every trade known to man. I should point out that all the beer had gone down the drain by May and the beer lines emptied.

We joined the group in mid-June. We are both retired. We have both always engaged ourselves in charity work. A Past President of the local Rotary Club, I travelled to Africa to build a bridge over a river in a remote village, water aid etc. I only add this to point out that we are not the local pissheads who can’t go a day without a drink.

On July 3rd we commenced work at 10am and during the day painted the walls of the beer garden.

A sandwich and a bottle of water for lunch.

We were the only people working at the pub that day.

From 4pm the tradesmen arrived to work the ‘evening shift’ having been working all day.

At 5.30pm the police arrived. One constable and five PCSOs.

They first entered the private accommodation of the landlord by saying they had power to enter under the Coronavirus Regulation.

(First mistake. No such power existed at the time.)

They then entered the pub, bodycams whirring.

I don’t know what they were hoping to find but they must have been bitterly disappointed.

There was no furniture in the place and there was no alcohol being consumed.

It would have been obvious even to the chronically thick that the place was being renovated.

People were working drills etc. in hand.

The landlord was carted off to a separate room to be interrogated by the constable.

The PCSOs were deployed to take everyone’s name and address.

Kate dutifully gave her name and address.

PCSO: “What’s your telephone number?”

Kate: “I’m not giving you that.”

PCSO: “What if we need to ring you?”

Kate: “Why on earth would I want you to ring me?”

What a spanner. Where do they get them from?

The same PCSO then turned to me.

“What are you doing here?”

“Painting walls.”

“Don’t look like you’re painting walls to me”.

“If you come with me I’ll show you what I’ve done today.”

(I was wearing a paint spattered tee shirt, shorts and a pair of Screwfix steel toecap boots that had long passed their skip date).

Other steel toe cap boot cap suppliers are available.

“What’s your name?”

“Not telling you.”

“Why?”

“I have done nothing wrong.”

“If you don’t give us your name and address we will arrest you.”

“Go on then.”

“I’ll have to get the police Officer to do that.”

The PCSO then summons another PCSO to guard me while she sought out the Police Officer.

I stand up.

“I’d like to leave now.”

PCSO – “You can’t till the police officer arrives.”

(Mistake number two PCSOs have no such power to detain people).

Police Officer arrives.

“You have to give us your name and address.”

“No I don’t I have done nothing wrong.”

“Yes you do you have committed an offence.”

“What offence?”

“Under the Coronavirus Regulations.”

“What offence under the Coronavirus Regulations?”

You know they are on the run when they don’t answer the question, but come up with the usual bull of “it will be in your interests”, “it will be dealt with quicker if you just give us your name” etc.

“Under no circumstances whatever am I going to give you my name and address.”

“I am arresting you under the coronavirus regulations.”

(Mistake number three. There is no power of arrest under the Coronavirus regulations unless the authorised person has grounds to believe the arrested person is infected. Even then the person must be taken to a place designated by a Public Health Officer. But hey ho).

Arrival at the custody suite.

Further request and refusal of name and address.

Searched. Belt and boots removed.

Property removed and placed in a plastic bag.

Burner’ phone

A screw

Glasses (which had been confiscated earlier)

I could see their eyes light up. Burner phone, no money, no identity documents, credit cards etc, and refusing to give his name. They really did have a big fish this time.

Custody Officer: “Put him on the livescan”.

For the uninitiated every person who is arrested has their fingerprints taken. They were once ink on paper. These days they put your hands on a glass screen and the fingerprints are checked against the database in America. (Yes America, don’t we do anything anymore?)

They looked crestfallen when the check came back negative. There was no record of me.

To the cells.

Think I was supposed to crack at this point and give my name and address.

As part of my training I was once deposited on a snow covered Snowden for 48 hours in a plastic survival bag with no food or water.

A nice warm cell holds no fear.

At 19 years of age my father fought on D Day. We don’t cave in easily.

Got my head down in the ‘peter’ as the old lags would say.

After two hours a spotty youth wearing a face mask enters my cell.

“We are going to take your fingerprints and DNA.”

“I’m still not going to give you my name.”

“Then we will detain you for court in the morning.”

(Mistake number four. They can only take you before a court if you have been charged with an offence. Nice attempt at bullshit, but they would have to come up with something better than that).

Fingerprints, DNA and photograph taken.

Back to the cell.

Five and a half hours later the custody officer enters my cell. At least they didn’t send the spotty youth this time.

“Paul it’s time to go home.” How did they find out? Don’t know.

In the custody area is the arresting officer. The arresting officer has been to my home and confiscated my month’s prescription medication (ten tablets a day seeing as you ask. How did it get from Snowdon to 10 tablets a day? Via an awful lot of fun is the answer).

“You will be released under investigation for the offence of failing to give your name and address.”

Hang on! You were there. You know if I gave my name or not, what is there to investigate?

Just shut up it’s not worth it.

“Collect your things we will give your lift home as we want to have chat with you.”

Did I really look like someone who just got of a banana boat?

No thanks I’ll walk (five miles).

Can I have my medication (now overdue) please?

“No.”

“Why not?”

“We think you are vulnerable and you could take it all if we give it to you.”

Where on earth do they get these idiots from?

On 3rd October three months after the event a Fixed Penalty Notice arrives by post at our home. The ‘offence’ is obstructing an authorised person carrying out a duty under the Coronavirus Regulations.

Anyway I’ve forgotten to tell you what I forgot to tell them. The reason why the livescan check came back negative.

They had no previous fingerprint record for me. They had no fingerprint record as I do not have any previous convictions.

Then again I suppose most retired Detective Inspectors don’t have previous convictions and fingerprint records.

Was it worth it?

Yes, every second.

I’d do it all again.

We demand the return of our freedom.

We now live under a dictatorship where painting a pub has become a criminal offence.

I have made a formal complaint of unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.