A British YouTuber has been insulted, manhandled, and arrested for “terrorism” by local police in a town northwest of London because he was filming a video outside a police station.
The man, Kolee Berks, who identifies as an independent citizen journalist, says he was there to “audit” the comings and goings in front of the High Wycombe police station, i.e., in a public space.
Reports said that “audits” are a common feature of his YouTube videos, but this one went awry when the police allegedly used excessive force, and tried to unjustifiably cite the Terrorism Act against a person who, it turned out in the end, committed no offense, let alone any that would be terrorist in nature.
A video Berks captured with his phone show him being approached by the police, one of whom tells him to “f**k off” and informs him he had no right to film in front of a police station without “an ID.”
When he replied that he was an independent journalist and didn’t understand why he had to leave, a policeman grabbed and handcuffed him as his phone fell to the ground.
Berks was in the end released but not before he wrote an apology for resisting arrest – which he said he only did after getting assaulted. He then uploaded the video of the incident on YouTube.
A spokesman for the local police said that they were “reviewing” the footage, and confirmed that they received a written apology.
But despite being arrested under section 47 of the Terrorism Act and under section 50 of the Police Reform Act, the spokesman said Berks was given “a conditional caution for obstructing a constable” inside the police station (not seen in the video) – but that “with regards to the other suspected offenses, the man was released from police custody with no further action.”
This is not the first incident of this kind in the UK, nor the first time the police overreacted to citizen journalists filming outside police stations. In July, another person was arrested for this in Luton, only for the police to later admit that this was not an offense so long as it was happening in a public space.
The comments left on Berks’ YouTube video, some of them apparently left by police officers, said that invoking the Terrorism Act in cases like this was completely unjustified.