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Byline: JOE THOMAS Crime Reporter @joe_thomas18

UNSUSPECTING members of the public are being stopped by fake police as part of a social media craze.

Pranksters pretending to be undercover officers are halting people and even searching them - all for a laugh.

The gimmick came to light as a Liverpool man was fined over two such cases heard in court.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard how a popular craze involved people stopping others at random and pretending to be plain-clothed police. Many of the pranks are filmed and posted online to YouTube.

The gimmick was discussed during the case of Kirkdale man Mark Fairbrother, who was handed a fine for his involvement in two fake stops.

The 32-year-old carried out two "stops" with an associate last December.

The first saw him shout "police" at a scooter rider from the driver's side of a white Vauxhall Corsa while at traffic lights on Lime Street. When the scooter rider responded - indicating he was aware of the prank, after seeing similar stunts online - a passenger in Fairbrother's vehicle then got out and was involved in an altercation with the rider.

Half-an-hour later, the pair repeated their joke outside the Otterspool pub, in Aigburth.

CCTV captured a white Corsa pulling up outside the premises as a man was about to enter. The passenger in Fairbrother's car is then filmed getting out and speaking to his victim - getting him to raise his arms, patting him down and emptying his pockets.

Fairbrother then comes out to continue the prank before the pub landlord is seen breaking it up.

Fairbrother, of Delamore Street, pleaded guilty to two counts of impersonating a police constable.

In both cases, it was his associate, who has not been identified, that laid hands on their target.

Rebecca Templeman, defending, said her client's involvement was limited to shouting "Police" and that he had no idea the Lime Street prank would escalate into a row.

She added Fairbrother was "at a complete loss at his behaviour and is ashamed of it".

Ms Templeman said his actions were "very juvenile behaviour" but did not carry the "sinister undertones" of cases typically associated with the impersonation of an officer.

The court heard details of the social media craze that saw fake police stops filmed and placed on social media, though it did not appear that the Lime Street and Aigburth incidents were recorded by those taking part.

Chair of the bench Peter Fisher fined Fairbrother PS300, ordered him to pay PS430 costs and disqualified him from driving for six months.

Plain-clothed officers will always be able to present a warrant card when they seek to carry out a search.


Mark Fairbrother was fined for impersonating a police constable

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 20, 2017
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