29 Jul

That time Mummy nearly got arrested

It was a nice sunny day.  We had met with some friends to play at Riversley Park in Nuneaton, a place that I had taken my son to when he was just a toddler, for the first time, and had always had a great time at.  I take my dog with me most places that I go and prior to the 1st July 2017, dogs were allowed in the sandy play area of this park.  I was standing under a tree supervising my son to the edge of the play area.  My beautiful well-behaved dog was on a lead and resting peacefully.  I had just had to intervene in some over zealous play where kids were getting hurt and wanted to stay nearby to stop it happening again.

All of a sudden, an unpleasant young man with some kind of clippy thing on his collars marched up to me and said he was from the council. He told me I was committing a criminal offence being in the park with my dog. I replied I wasn’t aware of this, I’ve been going to the park since my son was very young and people always take their dogs in there. I asked him to show me the sign. He did, but it was a small sign, low down and wrapped around a post near an entrance that I had not used (evidenced by my fitness tracker).  The sign was unclear, and I told him so. I wear varifocal glasses and even if I had used that entrance, the sign was low down and in my fuzzy area of vision.

He was demanding my name and address to issue me with a fine.  I asked what law I had broken and what the fine was, both questions that he did not know the answer to.   I refused to give my name to a stranger and asked to see his ID with his name on it. He refused and eventually showed me it, with his name and the company he worked for covered up. By this time I felt there was something not right so I started videoing him.

I continued to refuse to give my details to a stranger. He claimed to be from Nuneaton and Bedworth Council but was not in a uniform and he would not show me ID. Council employees are obliged to do both.

So he called for a colleague. I explained my situation as a vulnerable adult and continued to refuse to give them my name. The second guy showed me an exercise book from the council which he claimed was his ID and read me what he claimed to be a street caution and told me he would call the police. I said fine, I will give my name to a uniformed officer but not to a stranger with no ID who was going to keep my details very unsafely in a notebook. I waited for half an hour, the police didn’t turn up, it was dinner time and I needed to get my son home so we just left.  The older man followed me back to the car and my son photographed him in the car park as we drove away.

Watch the video. I have edited out members of the public and my son.

The older man claims that most people in the park are probably vulnerable adults – in which case he should not be approaching any of them. Guidelines are that they should not give fines to vulnerable adults.  He openly laughs when I tell him I am a victim of domestic abuse and stalking.

He lied about how they did not carry ID – I had already seen the first mans ID, although key details were concealed. 

Nuneaton and Bedworth council have very clear guidelines to how their staff must treat customers. See the “style of service” section here.

I was so traumatised by this event that I spoke to my safety team the next day.  They were extremely concerned and told me that I absolutely had done the right thing by videoing and refusing to give my personal protected details to a  stranger.  They called the council on my behalf and the council were unaware of the dog exclusion order in the park.  They also stated that the men were NOT employed by the council  as they had claimed and that council employees always wore uniforms and carried ID.  They advised me to call the police.

By this time, given my history, I was extremely distressed.  The police investigated for me and came back to me with a crime number.

These men are employed by a firm called NSL.  They have no more right than you or me to approach people and demand their personal sensitive details.  They have no right to detain anyone and the caution that they read is a scare tactic.  They are low paid jumped up parking attendants trained in intimidation tactics.

You are NOT obliged to give your personal details to anyone.  A quick google search reveals that they are NOT allowed to use the DVLA database to look up your details unless you are littering, dog fouling or flyposting.

My son and I have taken days to recover from this alarming incident and I am posting it here to educate you, and to let people of Nuneaton a) be aware of the new dog exclusion zone and b) about the scare tactics that NSL ON BEHALF OF NUNEATON AND BEDWORTH COUNCIL are employing.

I have friends in Nuneaton, NONE of whom were aware that dogs no longer are allowed in the sandy area.  The friend I met up with goes there daily with her children and says that people bring their pets in there all the time.  The local newspapers have not informed residents of the exclusion.

Bully number two told me that the information is available “on the website”.  It is not.  The website provide a PDF form which must be downloaded to find out that the exclusion order was put in place from the 1st July 2017.  I would not have been able to find this out if a) I didn’t have the internet at home, b) be computer literate and c) know how  to open PDF files.  Many people do not have this privilege.

Do you check the website of the park you visit prior to every visit? No, I didn’t think so. The front page of the council’s website says NOTHING about it, nor any parks information.

Are you happy that un-uniformed men WITH NO ID are patrolling a children’s play area? Is this not a child protection issue?

If you are outraged by this incident, please share this.  You can contact Nuneaton and Bedworth Council here, or on twitter or on facebook.

I am calling on Nuneaton and Bedworth Council to:

  • To install clear and noticeable signs in areas where dogs are newly excluded.
  • The private companies employed to give the fines out need to be uniformed and carry ID, which they are willing to show.
  • That personal data is collected and stored in a secure encrypted manner. Data protection does not protect victims of domestic violence, where personal details are known to the perpetrators.
  • That employees of Nuneaton and Bedworth Council and anyone contracted to work for them  are mandated to treat members of the public in the style of service that is promised to us within the document “Customer service and complaints policy” here.
  • That a first warning be given before any fines are levied.