On Saturday 2 June 2018, 21 of our activists met the ScotNat march in Dumfries. We stood at the narrowest point of the march – at the Burns Statue – and we calculated that 3,000 slowly passed our point in a period of 25 minutes.
How we Calculated the Numbers Accurately
We count the number passing a giving point in 1 minute. We do this at least 5 times. Then we take the average = 120; then we multiply that by the time the march took = 120 x 25 = 3,000. That is the standard way to estimate – usually quite accurately – the numbers on any march!
As can be seen from the pictures on this page, our vantage point was perfect.
Standing at the narrowest part of the march, witnessing the slow pace, the regular holdups, and the wide spaces in the often very loose crowd, made it easy for us to calculate these numbers accurately.
The tightest-packed area was at the front, with the march gradually become looser as time passed. Therefore, our average estimated in the first few minutes, but calculated as consistent over the entire 25 minutes, will be a generous estimate.
Immediately after the march, we spoke to a Police Liaison Officer. He told us the Police estimate was 3,500. We concurred. While it was a little higher than our estimation of 3,000 – it was correctly in the ballpark.
Therefore, it became surprising, disappointing and worrying, that the Dumfries and Galloway Police stated that there were "10,000" on the march. All evidence clearly disproves that number – which is wildly out – including their own video evidence.
For example, according to the 'Dumfries Galloway Police Division' Facebook page and its 'Weekly Snapshot' video published on the 6 June, Divisional Commander Gary Ritchie said, "We estimated the number of people taking part at around 10,000, which is actually far more than was initially anticipated."
Even the video of the procession which they use to illustrate the march indicates the crowd was slow moving, and loose, and taking up only half the road, and could not have physically reached such a figure of 10,000 in a period of a 25 minute slow shuffle!
(Furthermore, the population of Dumfries is 31,000. Are they really saying that a number equivalent to one third of the entire population of the town slowly ambled down the High Street in 25 minutes? And where did they all park? There were plenty of spaces around town. But an influx equivalent to one third the entire town would have seized it up for hours!)
We are very concerned that the Police came up with this figure after having told us it was 3,500; a figure which approximately tallied with our own estimation.
However, this follows an unfortunate pattern which was set earlier this year in Glasgow on 5 May.
On that day, our activists met the Nationalist march when it came down Union Street.
Again, we were well placed to estimate numbers, which were clearly in the 8-10,000 range, max. We wrote about the numbers here.
However, the Police said it was 35,000!
Again, over-estimating by at least 3 times!
It is a new tendency. They didn't used to do this. They used to be accurate.
For example, the Edinburgh police did not do this at the 2012 ScotNat march or at the 2013 ScotNat march.
Our organisation covered both those marches on the spot, and our estimations tallied almost exactly with those of the Police.
We'll get into why they might have started doing this in a minute, but firstly, let's ask...
Why is Over-estimation a Problem?
The answer is because there are no innocent consequences from this mistake.
It is not as if people are marching for something we can all agree on!
It is not as if people are marching for something which is harmless!
It is not as if this was a march for the protection of the Bumblebee. Then we could all say, "Isn't that nice, there are 3-times as many Bumblebee-fanciers than I thought there were. Seems like it's on the up-and-up! Jolly good show!"
No! This is a highly charged, highly political, highly controversial matter, which people seriously disagree, and fall-out, on!
Therefore, when the Police are consistently exaggerating the numbers by a factor of at least 3 then they are engaged in a direct form of political propaganda.
They are directly making the people who want to destroy the United Kingdom look good, and they are directly demoralising the people who want to hold us together.
(Some people say that it is a good thing if the ScotNats are over-estimating their numbers and are actually smaller than they mislead themselves to think they are. We disagree. It is not a good thing at all. This is because virtually all people 'on our side' will simply accept what they read and are told, without question. Very few of us examine these things in depth. Therefore, if this falsity gradually becomes the norm, then our side will become demoralised at the apparent size of the opposition; and people with no strong feelings either way will tend to side with those who appear to be the biggest. Furthermore, falsity is being written into history and will mislead future generations, which in itself is a very serious thing.)
To be clear, we are not saying that the Police are doing this deliberately (see our explanation below).
However, it is a form of political propaganda, and it is not clear to us that the Police properly realise their inadvertent complicity in such Scottish Nationalist propaganda! It is not clear if they realise the full import of what they are doing.
They need to wake-up to the seriousness of getting it wrong!
The flippant responses on the 'Dumfries Galloway Police Division' Facebook page did not reassure us as to the professional ability, or the advanced approach, of their organisation's crowd counting methods!
Why are the Police Inflating the Numbers?
Various reasons have been suggested to us...
1. The particular Divisions in question are simply incompetent at estimating numbers. They don't know how to take a proper tally (as above), or they don't have anybody assigned to doing this on the street, and they rely too much on guesstimates from photographs. This seems unprofessional, but it is probably the likeliest reason. It is the one which we are hoping is correct.
2. They exaggerate to make themselves look good. They can say they are able to police such huge numbers with such few resources. We don't know if this is likely or not.
3. Conversely, to make it look like they need more resources to police such huge numbers. We don't know if this is likely or not.
4. Some say: "They need to keep their masters in the SNP Executive happy!"
There is no doubt that the Police in Scotland are now a top-down organisation with the SNP Executive, effectively, at the head. Indeed, this was the very reason that Alex Salmond centralised the Police in Scotland, just prior to the 2014 referendum.
He intended to make absolutely certain that it was he who would be in charge if Scotland did vote for independence, and the country was subsequently plunged into potential social chaos.
This was the political reason for centralisation. To be in charge! It is always the political reason for centralising police forces world-wide.
Of course, the way it was sold to the public was on the grounds of "economic efficiency".
Having said that, we don't subscribe to the belief that the Police are doing this to appease the SNP, but we remain cautious because – as we say – the nature of a centralised police force is that it must ultimately answer to the politicians in charge.
5. Some say: "Because they are sympathetic to the Nats!"
There are individual police officers who are sympathetic, personally, to the message of Scottish separatism. We have to presume, though, that they will keep those sympathies out of their work.
Having said that, we got the impression (perhaps wrongly) that we were dealing with someone sympathetic to the ScotNats when we dealt with the 'Dumfries Galloway Police Division' Facebook administrator – see the screenshots above (possibly a civilian).
If we had to choose another reason – beyond our main belief that it is simple incompetence and inability to estimate numbers properly – then it would be reason 6.
6. To Avoid a Backlash and Endless Hassle from Hyper-sensitive ScotNats on Social Media
Such a backlash would be a real thing!
Thousands of online ScotNats would create merry hell for the Police if they are not seen to back up their over-inflated, fantastical numbers.
For example, at the march in Glasgow on 5 May 2018, the ScotNats were saying they had 90,000 there! For those of us on the ground, we knew the figure was between 8-10,000, at an absolute maximum.
However, faced with such a wildly-off-the-planet 90,000 claim which was gaining acceptance, then, if the Police had actually dared to give the correct figure – at least 9 times fewer – they might be concerned that they would not be treated with any credibility by the deluded and disbelieving ScotNats.
They might be concerned that they would suffer a backlash, which they didn't want to be bothered to fend off.
Therefore, they gave the (still ridiculous) figure of "35,000" as some kind of compromise. As we say, this was an over-estimation by more than 3 times. But maybe they felt they had to do that in order to stay mildly credible in the wild-eyes of the ScotNats, and avoid a backlash.
We do hope that was not the case, though.
So what of the Future?
Are we to expect constant exaggeration now?
Hopefully not! After all, if the ScotNats know they can rely on the Police to exaggerate the numbers by such a massive factor – through incompetence or design – then why do they need to march in the first place? Couldn't they all just stay in bed, and then ask the Police to think of a number?
We hope it doesn't come to that!
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