Camera Taken and Smashed While Reporting from Green End Road


Wednesday, April 19th, 2017. 1:54pm

At 18:25 on the 18th of April 2017 I was on Green End Road in Cambridge making a film about new cycle lanes which had been painted on the road that day.

Someone came from behind me, grabbed my camera and tripod and ran off. What happened next can be seen on the video I am publishing here.

I chased after the person who had taken the camera. They reached an alley off Scotland Road, signed Dundee Close, where they smashed my camera against the wall. The camera was extensively damaged and no longer works. My camera battery was lost.

The person who took the camera made as if to start coming towards me but, perhaps on seeing I was recording what was happening on my phone, walked off.

I have reported what happened to the police but as yet there is no sign of them taking an interest and investigating. Given this person’s behaviour, if not challenged they could go on and rob others; next time it might not just be my filming equipment facing the wrath of their violence.

I suspect what happened was an opportunist attempted theft; but there is a chance it could have been motivated politically, perhaps in opposition to my filming and reporting. Perhaps the police will find out.

I am now left without my usual equipment which I put significant personal investment into, and have been using for many years to report, and lobby, on a range of matters including seeking to tackle violent crime, improve our local health services, help people find appropriate places to live and make it safer and easier to get around the city.

Engaging with how we run our society is often challenging but this is the first time I’ve faced behaviour like this.

The film I was making draws attention to a Greater Cambridge City Deal decision to allow parking in new cycle lanes; it can be viewed on YouTube.

If anyone wants to donate towards some replacement equipment they are welcome to get in touch.

I am happy for the others to embed my YouTube video from the event.

8 comments/updates on “Camera Taken and Smashed While Reporting from Green End Road

  1. John Donker

    I was actually biking past when this happend yesterday, I saw the thief/destroyer running with the camera and you chasing behind it.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Thanks. I’ve had a few comments along these lines; I’m looking into Patreon.com which I think might be the most appropriate of the various funding websites for those who want to help out with what I’m doing that way. Just the notes of support are of course a great help too.

    2. Richard Taylor Article author

      So patreon.com currently as I understand it takes a 5% cut and collects 20% VAT. While a charge for a donation system is reasonable; unnecessarily collecting VAT isn’t; and it also operates in dollars so donations may be subject to bank/currency conversion charges – so overall I think it’s no good at the moment.

      Crowdfunder.co.uk appears suited to a single goal, other services are focused on products or funding a business start up; I can’t see another service yet that looks suitable.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Roger,

      Sorry I provided updates on Twitter but not here:

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    Just a couple of further things I wanted to say:

    When writing the above article I was mindful of libel law. I don’t know the intent of the person who took the camera and if they didn’t intend to permanently deprive me of it, I can’t say it’s theft, or describe the person as a thief. Also, as I was standing next to my camera, and wasn’t, I don’t think, holding it, I can’t, safely, call them a robber, or what happened as a robbery. The police also appear to be taking this cautious approach – at least for now describing what happened as merely criminal damage to my equipment.

    Reporting a crime to the police is hard work. There was a long wait on 101; the call reporting the matter took 27 minutes. I was faced with lots of difficult to answer questions such as if I would describe myself as a vulnerable victim. I think that would be an odd question for someone who doesn’t take an interest in policing to face; there’s a definition on the CPS website but I didn’t have time to find that to refer to while I was on the call. I was also faced with lots of irrelevant questions, such as being asked repeatedly for my place of birth – both as I recall on 101 and when I visited the police station to discuss what happened with a constable. I also had to stand up, under quite significant pressure, to an attempt to get me to agree to sign a statement as being ~”in my own words” when it was written by a police officer. Eventually, after some time, the police accepted a statement I had written, along with a covering statement about that statement. This isn’t the first time I’ve been through the process of reporting a crime (I’ve reported a burglary before) so I was reasonably prepared for what to expect, but it was still very challenging.

    I offered to meet the police constable on Green End Road, I thought it would be useful for them to see the area and a chance to get some police presence on the street for a period, but they declined.

    My motivation for reporting the crime was primarily that the next victim could have their life changed if – for example it’s an elderly person who’s knocked over when some of their property is stolen. I felt a strong public duty to report what happened to the police.

    There is also the question of the victim impact statement – material to be presented in court to be used by the magistrate or judge to inform sentencing. I have provided some information already; in terms of the cost of the equipment damaged and destroyed and on what I used that equipment to do. I’ve said I will consider providing a further statement if a case goes to court. I’m left thinking what if the aim of this individual was to cause fear and intimate me (I doubt it was, I think it was probably initially an attempted theft) ; if I then say the incident has left me fearful, or make public if, and how, it has changed my approach to certain aspects of what I do then I may be giving them the satisfaction of knowing they have succeeded. While victim impact statements are optional, and some will want to make them; I can see that in some cases publicly explaining the impact of a crime fully would involve disclosing personal information; and might even make someone more of a target for crime in the future – in many ways parts of our society are still not very sophisticated at all and showing weakness could prompt targeting for criminality or bullying.

    I think the police and criminal justice system have a much too narrow view of victims of crime; when there are burglaries, or incidents such as the taking of my camera, near where I live, that impacts us all, not just those directly involved.

    The police advise that crimes can be reported via Crimestoppers; that’s something I might consider in the future.

    If the opportunity arises I will lobby to improve the system; I think they key thing is honesty – statements prepared by police officers after asking people questions should be openly described as such to the courts; people shouldn’t be asked to sign something an officer as written as being their statement (unless of course it is, and the officer has merely helped someone unable to type or write record what they have to say).

    I think judges and magistrates should be very wary of statements and ask questions about the circumstances in which they were generated.

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