East Fife footballer and pals seek apology from armed police after being told to 'suck it up' after 'traumatic' ordeal

An East Fife footballer and his pals are seeking an apology after being pulled over by armed police.

Thomas Collins was with three others in a red Volkswagen Golf when they were stopped in Paisley's Neilston Road on Friday evening.

The 24-year-old told John Beattie's BBC Drivetime radio show that they were left "traumatised" by the experience and also angry about the way the following car search was handled by police.

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And when they were released without charge after about three hours, they claim officers told them to just "suck it up."

The friends were pulled over by armed police in Paisley's Neilsteon Road on Friday evening.

Police said it was a "targeted stop" linked to an investigation in which a 55-year-old man was charged in connection with guns and ammunition found in a black Mazda 6 in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, earlier that night. It is understood this arrest happened close to a flat the group had been visiting that day to see a friend.

A spokesperson for the force said anyone who has concerns about police conduct should contact police.

Mr Collins said he had "no idea" why they were stopped by armed police on Friday evening and that he has had nightmares about the experience since.

He told the BBC radio show: "We did not even have time to stop and think because they had got the machine guns out and they were pointing them at us, telling us to put our hands in the air and to turn the engine off.

"My friend that was driving was in complete shock and we actually had to tell him he was being asked to switch the engine off."

Search for guns

Mr Collins said they were then asked to exit the car with their hands in the air before being handcuffed and taken to a police car park where the vehicle was searched.

He continued: "I had been looking forward to a normal, chilled night with my girlfriend watching the Europa League final then I was suddenly in the back of a police car in a small, claustrophobic cage."

Mr Collins said they later learned that police appeared to have some intelligence which made them think they had firearms in the vehicle.

He claimed that, during the search, one of his friends asked what the protocol would be when they found nothing of interest in the car, to which an officer apparently told them, 'if you thought you were going to get an apology, you should grow up.'

The footballer later said to the officers they could have handled the situation better, and was expecting an apology after nothing was found, but were told they should just "suck it up."

Mr Collins told the BBC that he understands what police did was necessary but feels they should have at least asked if they were okay and maybe offered them some water, with the ordeal lasting about three hours.

He says he and his friends are now “looking for an apology” but they also want to raise awareness to ensure the conduct of police officers in future is “better.”

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner told the BBC that, following an assessment of the circumstances, it was decided the actions of the police were "proportionate" and that "no investigation was necessary."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "During an intelligence-led operation in Glasgow around 7.10pm on Friday 21 August 2020, a VW Golf was stopped by armed officers in Neilston Road, Paisley. This was a targeted stop by police as part of ongoing enquiries.

"As part of the same investigation, at around 6.30pm, officers stopped and searched a black Mazda 6 car on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, and recovered a firearm and ammunition.

"A 55-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with the find and was due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday, 24 August, 2020. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

"Anyone who has concerns regarding police conduct is encouraged to contact police."

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