Tony and Phil from Twickenham constabulary popped on today for a coffee and a chat. We talked them through the work we're doing for Community safety day in February and they helped us bring some authenticity to the 'stop and search' scenes.
Broadly our work was in the right place. Underage drinking and tagging, which are both portrayed in the play are big issues and most of the 'pulls' on teenagers in the borough come as a result of petty criminal damage or anti social behaviour resulting from alcohol abuse.
One scene we will have to change is where our protagonist James is caught spraying on a disused building. In our version the police confiscate his can, search him and send him on his way. The reality is he'd be arressted on the spot. A subtle correction to our storyline to focus more on police suspicion rather than hard evidence will not only get rid of this inaccuracy but also complicate the debate about the range and use of police power. It's a welcome adjustment.
I've asked if the actors can go out on the beat next week and watch first hand what goes on. Both Tony and Phil were very happy to look into it and I'm hopeful this'll happen.
Later in the afternoon I get a call from the University's health and safety officer asking why the police were on site.
"Any criminal activity by students or staff must be reported to me!" I was told rather grandly. I wasn't too sorry to have to disappoint.
It'd taken her a while to trace where the invitation to the police had come from, which had given plenty of time for the rumours to fly about. Some students in my afternoon lecture seemed generally surprised to see me there as they'd heard that I'd been arrested in a college raid earlier in the day.