Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Under Age Drinking in Whitburn

Friday 26th March

There was no real rush for Nick and I to get down from Inverness to an old mining town called Whitburn half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

We were going to be accompanying some police officers on an operation to clamp down on under age drinking.

We left the hotel after a leisurely breakfast and stopped off for a pleasant coffee at the House of Bruar an up market tourist trap selling all kinds of expensive food, drink and clothing.

When we got back into the car, Nick clutching a bag of tablet, something the expat Scot living in London rarely sees, there was still plenty of time.

It is a Scottish sweet delicacy and like the oft quoted but seldom actually eaten deep fried Mars Bar, an indicator of the reason Scotland’s diet comes pretty low down the scale of healthy living.

Tablet is just condensed milk and sugar heated and left to go hard.

As we neared the Forth Road bridge that plenty of time shrank thanks to a huge queue of traffic because of road works.

We did mange to get to the Police Station in the centre of the small town at the appointed time.

The rain was pouring down and it was pretty cold.

Those sort of conditions are usually pretty good at keeping most mischief makers indoors.

The police officers did say that the weather would have a bearing on what we might encounter on the streets, but we might be surprised at the number of kids out with their bottles of alcohol, usually mixed with soft drinks and not very cleverly disguised in those bottles.

Before we went out on the operation a plain clothed officer took us on a tour of the most likely spots where we saw the detritus left by the young drunkards.

There were blue plastic bags littering the back lanes and secluded wooded areas along with discarded cans and bottles of all descriptions.

The weather was still very miserable when with a uniformed sergeant and the police press officer Nick and I went out in an unmarked car to follow one of the vans on patrol.

I was in the back with the camera at the ready as we drove around the places we’d been shown.

We were a little disappointed when our boys in front had to break off from the operation because they had spotted a chap who had an outstanding warrant against him.

So they had to go and deal with that.

The rain was cold and relentless. The streets were fairly empty and most people that we did see were rushing from car to building or building to car.

“What’s your location?” asked Steve the uniformed sergeant in answer to a voice in his ear.

It was a little before 6 pm.

He turned to us and said, “One of the units has one guy, but his mate has run off. We’re looking for him.”

Rounding a few corners not far from the local community centre we saw a small police van.

I got out the car and filmed one policeman talking to a youngster outside the van and another officer busy taking the details of a kid sitting rather too casually in the back.

I knew that the faces of the two boys would have to be pixelated out to preserve their anonymity.

I had not filmed the police making the initial stop but at least we had something in the can.

A few moments later we were once again behind the police van patrolling the streets of one of the estates in the town.

I saw a group of three young girls, hoods up against the rain walking along the road.

Instinctively I started shooting through the rain smeared window of the car.

I noticed the girl in the middle was carrying a bottle in her left hand. There was a dark liquid in it and it had no label.

The cops in front must have spotted it too because their van came to a halt and when they called over to the girls the one in the middle quickly put the bottle behind her back.

The games up for you I thought and we were about to get the money shot of the police speaking to the girl.

When the police started to speak to the trio of little hooded girls I got out of the car and continued to shoot what was being said.

The weather played to my advantage because I could shoot quite happily from behind the kids without seeing their faces as the police officers spoke to them and took their details.

It was convenient, their hoods being up against the rain.

The two without the drink were sent on their way but the girl that had been carrying the bottle was put in to the police van to be taken to the police station.

When the policeman opened the bottle a powerful smell of alcohol hit us. It was almost neat Tia Maria with a tiny drip of cola.

It was only just after 6 pm.

I had the shot. I had good close ups of the bottle before the police swooped and great audio of them talking to the girls.

Nick did a little interview with one of the officers and got really good sound bites.

We and the police were a bit surprised at how old the girl was. She was only twelve years old, in first year of high school.

On the way back to the Station we heard that the kid that had run off earlier had been spotted and was in the process of being chased by a policeman on a bike.

We headed in that direction and arrived just as the policeman had caught the boy.

Once again I jumped out of the car and shot the action.

This fourteen year old was not to happy about the camera and made that obvious, thankfully for him not in an aggressive way.

It was clear from hearing him speak that he had consumed quite a bit of the vodka and lemonade from the now half full two litre 7 Up bottle he had been carrying.

Whilst I was shooting this action in the scruffy car park behind some shops I was aware that Steve our sergeant was dealing with another little matter.

Unbelievably with all this police activity taking place a chap had driven his car into the car park, parked and then very drunkenly got out and went to stagger right past us.

He ended up in the back of our car to be driven to the station. We had to walk back.

The piece was coming together nicely.

The police station was not at all far away and our arrival back there on foot could not have been timed better because at the same time we entered the car park at the back the twelve year old girl and her dad were being shown in to the station.

Another great shot.

We followed them in to an interview room and got a good bit of audio as one of the police officers spoke to them and a couple of useful sound bites from a rather stunned father.

I suspect that the kid would not have been the toast of the family that evening.

The other kids were also back at the station but not so keen to be on camera.

Once we did a few interviews with some of the other police officers and the mother of one of the boys the job was done.

Despite the horrible weather the police got a result. Nick and I knew that we had a good report to highlight the dangers of under aged drinking.

It was still only around 9 pm when I left the location to end my homeward journey.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Just wondering what you were shooting video for... I am a local minister in the area, involved in the schools, too. I'm curious as i think I spotted you in the Croftmalloch area, near Lidl etc.
    Kind regards,