If you squint, you can see what blocked my path while doing a further leg of the Capital Ring earlier today – police tape. Not many walkers have their strolls curtailed by a killing, but my path through Wandsworth Common was blocked by this afternoon’s shooting outside the prison, which left a man dead. Police are hunting for two men seen running away from the scene.
I’d been out all afternoon, having walked there from Crystal Palace Park, and was unaware of the news, so was a bit surprised to see two policewomen, police tape and a forensics expert where I was supposed to be walking. I’m a bit hesitant about approaching the police these days, mounting stories of officers who don’t quite realise they’re there to serve the public (harrassing photographers, beating up demonstrators, you know the drill) have left it in my mind to keep out of their way. But my sense of curiosity got the better of me – as did the queue of waiting cars with drivers shouting out “what’s going on?”
So, up to the officers I strolled. “A critical incident has happened, that’s all we can say.” Curious, I thought – clearly something had only just happened. I showed my press accreditation (not often I need to use it, but it was worth a go in case something had only just happened – there were old colleagues I could tip off). They laughed. “Then you’ll know what’s happened anyway.” I couldn’t be bothered to pursue it any more with them, although if this was my local area I probably would have done.
So, in the end, the internet on my phone told me what had happened, because the story had been on the BBC News website for two-and-a-half hours, while the two policewomen whose wages my tax pays for declined to be of any help. If Metropolitan Police ever wonders why ordinary Londoners are beginning to hold it in contempt, it’s little incidents like that that’ll hold the answer why.