A neighbour had put up a flimsy piece of bamboo screening on the edge of a West Worthing woman's garden and, what with the strong winds and all, it had fallen down.
It was bad enough that this neighbour then decided to complain to the police, absurdly claiming the fence had been deliberately sabotaged by the woman, who we will call Ms X.
But when the cops knocked on the door at 10pm at night, declined to look at the scene of the alleged 'crime' but told Ms X she would have to be arrested before they could speak to her - well, that took the whole thing into scary new territory.
Ms X told The Porkbolter that the female cop said she would have to report to the police station at Durrington at a later date and told her "You can't answer questions unless you're under caution and we can only put you under caution if you're under arrest."
Being arrested is a serious business these days, with fingerprints and DNA samples taken for the police database. The arrest can also show up on an enhanced CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check whether or not you're ever charged, let alone convicted, so Ms X's future employment could have been under threat.
And all this, as she pointed out, was on the basis of one accusation from one neighbour that the police hadn't even bothered to check out properly. At first it seemed this must all be a bit of a mix-up and that police couldn't possibly have this power.
However, during the three weeks before her appointment with arrest, Ms X went on the internet to check it all out and she was shocked to find that the cops can now legally act this way in police state Britain.
Controversial SOCPA legislation (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) extended the power of arrest to all offences. And the criteria for deciding whether an arrest is necessary say it can be to "allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question". This is a rather handy catch-all clause that basically allows police to arrest anyone they want to.
Said Ms X: "Nobody knows about this. Everyone I spoke to said there must be some mistake, they can't do that. But they can."
A furious Ms X wrote to everyone she could think of, including Peter Bottomley MP and Worthing District police commander Howard Hodges, who told her he considered arrest to be the most expedient way of dealing with the issue. If she was arrested she could be bailed to court, otherwise a different procedure, involving a court summons, would have to be used. In her online research, she also discovered that police forces across the country seemed divided about the whole issue of arrests and whether they had to conform to the "necessity test".
Ms X wonders if the Sussex Police approach, which she encountered, has led to a rise in arrests and, if so, whether the rise in arrests was matched with a rise in people being actually charged. She said: "It's massaging their arrest figures and making them look good."
Ms X is a resourceful and articulate woman and after weeks of effort she in fact managed to persuade the police to allow her to report to the police station on a voluntary basis rather than for arrest. But she points out that many people do not have the education, confidence or time to take on the authorities in this way and would have ended up joining the 800,000 people on the national police database who have never been charged with any offence.
And what of the original 'crime' regarding the broken fence? Ms X reports that she was in and out of the interview within seven minutes.
She said: "I was not required in any way to prove I hadn't done it.
"Not only was there no evidence against me, but there wasn't even any evidence that any crime had been committed." How can it be right, she asked, that someone can be treated like a criminal just because one other person makes an allegation against them, even though it could be a complete lie?
The phrase witch-hunt springs to our minds, a world in which we are all guilty unless we can prove we are innocent. Said Ms X: "This is really damaging for the police's community relations. How can you have faith in a police force that behaves like that? It's an outrage. What sort of country are we living in?"
Police arrested some protesters who they claimed had assaulted them, with one case even going as far as Worthing Magistrates Court on November 11 of that year. There a copper gave a false account of what had happened, under oath (full details in our Yule 2002 issue). Then the defence pulled out its trump card - a video taken by a member of the public showing the police were telling porkies. The rest of the cops lined up to tell lies were warned not to do so and the case was quickly dropped.
The big differences between this and the Ian Tomlinson case are that Mr Tomlinson died after his brush with the cops and that whereas his story has been heard round the world, the Titnore case was not even reported in the Worthing Herald (no surprise there!).
The big similarities are the police's rabid hostility to protesters and hatred of democracy, their willingness to lie through their teeth and the fact that can they can be caught out by people recording their actions. Now why could it be, we wonder, that the 'anti-terror' law was passed in February making it potentially illegal to photograph or film the Bovver Boys in Blue?
One campaigner told The Porkbolter: "New roads and a vast increase in the amount of cars and delivery lorries will make life a 24/7 misery for thousands of residents. And what remains of our small local shops will be forced out of business as money-grabbing Tesco pushes on with its selfish plan for a total retail monopoly."
A new road will be built between Fulbeck Avenue and the new megastore, meaning cars and lorries will be thundering past people's homes day and night, disturbing the peace, polluting the air and meaning it will no longer be safe for children to play in the streets near their homes.
The 13,138sq metre shopping centre, to include nine shops, would be twice the size of the current supermarket. Worthing council has already given 'outline' permission for this horrific scheme and is now trying to give it the full go-ahead without too much fuss.
The Worthing Herald seems to have joined the Tesco-council alliance, making out that the project is good news because of all the jobs it will 'create' - ignoring the fact that massive new shopping malls like this put out of business all the little shops that struggle to survive in the local community, already up against a veritable plague of Tesco Expresses.
Apparently these jobs don't count for those who are happy to believe the corporate lie that big is beautiful and 'progress' equals bigger profits for the fat cats.
WRITE a letter to oppose the disastrous new megastore, quoting application code WB/09/0146/ARM and send to the Development Control Manager, Worthing Borough Council, Portland House, Richmond Road, Worthing as soon as possible, including your name and address. More info from www.protectourwoodland.co.uk and on the national Tescopoly campaign site www.tescopoly.org
One of the highlights was the talk by Omar Desghayes, the Brighton resident held and tortured in Guantanamo Bay on false allegations of being a Chechnyan rebel. The dignity, gentleness, intelligence and courage of this man, after what he had been through, was a real inspiration in the packed Labour Hall on a Sunday afternoon.
Talks by the International Solidarity Movement on Palestine and by Smash Edo! on their campaign against the Sussex weapon-parts factory were also highly informative (see www.smashedo.org.uk for details of their big May 4 demo in Brighton), as was the talk by Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of NO2ID. He drew particular attention to the centralised NHS database and urged Worthing people to use their right to opt out of it - forms are available at www.thebigoptout.com
He also said a big threat to privacy and liberty is Contact Point, the harmless sounding database on every child (and thus future adult!) in the UK, the information on which could be accessed by a million people - so hardly secure! There is no opt-out mechanism for us plebs, but there is "shielding" for the elite of our society, such as MPs and celebrities, who don't want the rest of us to know what they're up to. More info from www.no2id.net.
Appropriately, the Freedom March protest outside the town hall on March 14 coincided with a front-page report in the Daily Telegraph that we are basically going to be required to get exit visas to leave the country, just like they did back in the USSR.
The report said: "The travel plans and personal details of every holidaymaker, business traveller and day-tripper who leaves Britain are to be tracked by the Government. Anyone departing by land, sea or air will have the trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade. Those leaving from any international station, port or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans."
Even sailors, fishermen and cross-Channel swimmers will have to comply, or face prosecution by our control-freak state.
And then on March 29, the Mail revealed it was not just to be trips abroad that were affected: "Passengers on ferries to the Isle of Wight and Scottish islands such as Mull and Skye will soon have to carry identity papers to comply with new police anti-terror powers. And travellers flying between British cities or to Northern Ireland face having their personal data logged when booking tickets and checking in."
Sadly this is all going to slide into a complete nightmare police state unless people are prepared to stand up in numbers and defend our freedom - not just in Worthing, not just in March and not just the people already doing so! WAKE UP BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
He reported: "It was pointed out that there are absolutely no circumstances for one not to pay. I was told that it was the same as the council tax and even if your bins weren't emptied you would still have to pay. One of the court assistants helpfully assured me that being in the BID was worthwhile because they had managed to secure the 'birdman' event for the town!" Talk about bird-brained! With the BID due to be renewed in 2013, Mr Stewart is planning to stage a 'vote no' campaign with other small businesses, taking on the voting power of the big corporate stores and the council. In the meantime, Worthing is lumbered with a useless and divisive scheme that it seems nobody wants!
Published and printed by The Porkbolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no cruel jokes about swine flu in our police coverage.