Paul Lewis – Gaurdian December 15, 2009
An Italian student has described how she was stopped by police under anti-terrorist legislation while filming buildings, and later arrested, held in a police cell for five hours and given a fixed penalty notice.
Simona Bonomo, 32, an art student at London Metropolitan University at London Metropolitan University, filmed the moment on 19 November when she was approached by two police community support officers (PCSOs) in Paddington, west London.
When Bonomo was challenged by one PCSO, she said she was filming "just for fun". He replied: "You like looking at those buildings do you? You're basically filming for fun? I don't believe you."
Bonomo then declined his request to see what she had filmed. "I can have a look if I want to, if I think it may be linked to terrorism. This is an iconic site," he replied.
Bonomo then said she was an artist. "You're an artist? Have you got any proof or any identification?" he said. After accusing Bonomo of being cocky, the PCSO said she had been cycling the wrong way down a one-way street and threatened to fine her. After she apologised, the PCSOs departed, but returned moments later with about six police officers, she said.
She was searched and, after an altercation with one officer, was accused of being aggressive, bundled to the ground and arrested. The PCSOs were not involved in the arrest. After five hours in a police cell, Bonomo said she was told to sign an £80 fixed penalty fine for a public order offence. She plans to contest the penalty, which stipulated she caused "harassment, alarm and distress" in public.
Bonomo returned the next day to interview builders who had witnessed her arrest. Footage of the interviews appears to corroborate her account. "I was disgusted," one said. "They were terribly out of order. There was one officer who was spiteful to you."
The Met confirmed that a woman was stopped and searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Any complaint made to police would be fully investigated.
Watch video of police
confronting Simona Bonomo. This is the new face of the British police; and it could have come straight out of a Clockwork Orange.
Last updated 20/12/2009