TikTok police officer 'breadgate video' - Police Crime Commissioner responds to cop caught littering in street

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A young police officer was filmed being confronted by an angry person who’d just seen him throwing bread on the floor outside his house - but opinion is divided about the actions of both men

A police chief has responded to a viral TikTok video which shows a young police officer throwing his bread crusts on the floor - and has divided public opinion.

The footage, which was shared on TikTok by a user called ‘qu3ball’, showed a fresh-faced cop littering in an Oxfordshire street by discarding his unwanted bread crusts in the ground. He was then confronted by an angry member of the public, Jamie Cossey, who swore at him and demanded he take his rubbish with him.

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Now, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber has spoken out about the video after it went viral on the popular social media platform and caused an outcry. Opinion is divided on the issue; some people have condemned the officer for littering but others think Cossey went too far in the way he handled the situation. But what exactly happened during the incident, which has been dubbed ‘breadgate’, what has Barber said about it and how exactly have social media users responded? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the TikTok ‘breadgate’ video?

In the video, a young male Thames Valley Police officer, who was based at Witney police station, was captured on the CCTV of an Oxfordshire resident opening the passenger door of his marked car and throwing his unwanted bread crusts on the grass verge.

But, his actions were seen by the homeowner, 52-year-old Jamie Cossey, who decided he didn’t want to let him get away with littering. So, he stepped outside and, in a video he filmed and posted to TikTok, demanded that he pick up his litter and dispose of it properly. However, the officer responded by insisting that he wasn’t littering, even though Cossey said a member of the public would have received an on-the-spot fine if they had been spotted doing the same thing by one of his colleagues.

The viral video, filmed on the morning of Tuesday 3 October, starts with Cossey asking for the officer's badge number and police station which he confirms as being Witney, a town in Oxfordshire. Cossey then asked the officer: “Have you got an excuse why you pulled up outside my house and threw rubbish out your car? Is there a reason for that?” The officer denies littering, saying: “No, I haven't thrown any rubbish. That's actually just sandwich crusts.”

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“Oh right” Cossey replied, before filming the pair of sandwich crusts discarded on the grass verge beside them.  He added: 'So you think it's okay to pull up outside somebody else's house and chuck your lunch or breakfast outside my house? That's acceptable, is it? If I'd done that in front of a police officer, right, or if a litter enforcement officer, right, I'd get nicked, wouldn't I? Course I would. You've got no respect, have you?”

The officer then seemed to understand Cossey’s frustration and replied: 'I can fully understand where you're coming from and I appreciate that maybe it didn't look so bad, and I'll fully take that on board. I will keep that in mind for the future." But Cossey was still upset and demanded that the officer “pick the f****** crust up and take it with you” and added “I ain't moving until you f****** do it. It's my house, and you just discard your food on the side of the road, right, without any thought.”

The young police officer at the centre of what has become known as the 'breadgate' incident. The unidentified officer threw his bread crusts on the floor in an Oxfordshire town but was confronted by angry resident Jamie Cossey, who filmed the interaction he had with him. Photo by Twitter.The young police officer at the centre of what has become known as the 'breadgate' incident. The unidentified officer threw his bread crusts on the floor in an Oxfordshire town but was confronted by angry resident Jamie Cossey, who filmed the interaction he had with him. Photo by Twitter.
The young police officer at the centre of what has become known as the 'breadgate' incident. The unidentified officer threw his bread crusts on the floor in an Oxfordshire town but was confronted by angry resident Jamie Cossey, who filmed the interaction he had with him. Photo by Twitter. | Twitter

Perhaps sensing that the incident was then becoming a little confrontational, the officer's colleague then interrupts to say that the roadside doesn't constitute part of the property.  Cossey replied to say: “It doesn't matter, it doesn't - oh so it's okay, is it? It's public property, so that makes it even worse, doesn't it?” He also told the pair he would be making a complaint about the young officer and added: “who do you think you are? Do you think the police are so above the little man that you can get away with that?'”

The officer who dropped the crusts then tried to say he’d pick up the rubbish, but Cossey interrupted him to say “pick it up. Pick it up. Pick it up then.” When the policeman asked him to stop shouting, he responded: “I'll shout at what I want - there's no law against it, is there?”

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Still not content, Cossey then stepped back on to his driveway and shouted: “Alright. Now pick the f****** thing up. Now I'm on private property. Pick it up. How dare you come to somebody's house and discard your food, in front of their house, whether it's a public property or not. Who the hell do you think you are? Pick it up. Now.”

The officer said: “I will do. Will you please stop shouting at me like that? I don't think that's quite respectful.” Cossey replied: “'I don't think it's respectful you discard your food outside my house. Pick it up.” “I'm going to, if you leave me alone. Okay?' the officer said, before picking up the crusts. The video then ends with a final statement from Cossey: “Move along. You're dismissed. Go away. Don't chuck food outside your car again.”

The video is being shared by many social media users and can be seen below. Cossey later told the Daily Mail: “'I hope that young copper learns from what happened outside my house and it makes him a better officer.”

What happened to the police officer in the TikTok ‘breadgate’ video?

Footage revealed that male and a female police officer returned to Cossey’s house on the evening of Wednesday 4 October to inform him that the policeman who had thrown the crusts had been ordered to undergo 'reflective practice’ which will sit on his record, according to the MailOnline.

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The female officer told the man: 'We have spoken to the officer and said this isn't correct (and that) you need to reflect on your actions. He has accepted that it is wrong and he has apologised - not to you, but this is why we're here. We've dealt with it this evening.  This reflective practice will go onto his record, that's what's happened, so that's on his record, and we're here to say ‘apologies, that shouldn't have happened’.”

She added: “(His actions) weren't right, and he acknowledges that and he's learned from it. And, you know, like you said, he's young in service and this will stay with him and he's not going to do it again.”

Thames Valley Police said it had been made aware of the video and has flagged it to senior officers and its professional standards department. A statement from the force, shared on its official X account, said: “We are aware of a video being widely shared on social media involving one of our officers. The video has been reviewed internally and we have spoken to the officer involved.  We have also been to discuss the encounter and the officer’s actions with the individual who recorded the video.”

What did Matthew Barber say about the TikTok ‘breadgate’ video?

Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber told the Oxford Mail that he disagrees with the actions of both the officer, who has not been identified, and Cossey. He said: "No one should be littering, police officers or not.  It's quite right that the force has taken proportionate action following this incident.”

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He added: “Whilst the resident's frustration may be understandable, I also disagree with anyone shouting and swearing at others in the street. I don't think this video shows anyone in a good light.”

Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley.Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley.
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley.

How have social media users responded to the TikTok ‘breadgate’ video?

Some social media users applaud Cossey for his approach to the situation. One person said: “Fair play to you good sir. And he tried to talk his way out of it like a politician, the mind boggles at how totally useless the police are nowadays.”. Another said: “Rules for thee, but not for me. That man was correct. If you throw anything on the ground, it's an 80 quid fine.” Some called on the officer in question to be sacked.

Other people, however, think Cossey’s response was extreme. One person said: “I'm not a fan of the police but it was just a bit of bread for the birds. I hate littering but I think this has been blown out of proportion really.” Another said: “I'm shocked at the attitude of the man filming this. Who the hell does he think he is.... Where is the respect for our police? No wonder they are fighting a losing battle.” Another person insisted that the bread would have been eaten by birds, while someone else also asked if Cossey had committed a public offence himself by using foul language.

Cossey later admitted on social media that he could have approached the situation more tactfully, and said he just “lost it” in the moment, but “let himself down” with the way he spoke to the officer.

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Littering - what is the punishment?

Littering is a criminal offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, punishable by a fixed penalty notice of up to £150, which can be increased to a fine of £2,500 if not paid within 28 days. Under plans announced by the government in March, fines for littering are set to increase to a maximum of £500 under a new crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

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