The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades says he was ‘brutalised’ by police as a teenager
Jay Blades has opened up about being "brutalised" by police as a teenager in an assault that left him "praying" it would end.
The BBC Repair Shop host, best known for his skill in furniture restoration and passion for upcycling, wrote about the incident in his brand-new autobiography, Making It: How Love, Kindness and Community Helped Me Repair My Life.
Jay details in the book, which is set to be released on Thursday May 13, a horrific incident he experienced at the hands of his local police force while growing up in Stoke Newington.
"One night about ten o'clock, I was mooching back to Londesborough Road from the park when a police van pulled up next to me," Jay shared.
"A flat-cap officer with a big bushy black beard got out of the front passenger seat and called me over. 'Oi! You! I want a word with you!'" he recounted.
Jay walked over to the officer and was quizzed about where he had been and what he had been doing.
"Nothing," Jay replied at the time.
But he recalled the police officer simply said he didn't believe him.
He wrote: "The back doors swung open and the black-bearded copper shoved me inside. There were five or six uniformed policemen sitting in the van waiting for me. They didn't even bother to search me. They just beat the sh*t out of me.
"It was brutal. They were laying into me with fists, feet and truncheons, and all I could do was roll into a ball on the floor of the van and wait, pray , for it to end.
"It probably lasted two minutes but it felt like a lot, lot longer," he added, "as their mocking laughter echoed around the van."
He said police yelled at him: "That'll show you! Black b*****d."
"When they had had enough, they chucked me out and drove off," Jay said. "I staggered home to inspect my latest black eye and bruises."
He didn't tell his mum how he'd gotten the injuries.
But that wasn't the only race-fuelled attack launched by the same officer, Jay said.
"He'd drive around in the evenings, with his unit, after black youths to beat up. Afterwards, he'd dump us in a white area like Millwall so we might get a second beating on the way home," he explained.
The stop and search protocols were allowed to take place under a so-called "sus law", which permitted a police officer to stop, search and potentially arrest anyone on suspicion of a breach of the Vagrancy Act 1824.
It was officially repealed in 1981, but was followed shortly after in 1984 by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which effectively reinstated stop and search powers.
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But under current official law, those stopped and searched don’t legally have to answer questions, and refusing to do so is not a legitimate reason for arrest.
Jay recalls the incidents inciting a "burning sense of injustice" in him, as he said: "I knew the racism was wrong. I knew the sus laws were wrong. I knew the police brutality was wrong.
"And I knew that we could do f***-all about any of it."
He continued: "There's no easy way of saying this: a lot of police in the eighties did not like black people."
Jay has served as presenter of emotional BBC show The Repair Shop since 2017, and has since launched his own TV show along with Holly Willoughby's husband Dan Baldwin.
Jay has also appeared on shows including Jay Blades' Home Fix and House of Games.
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