The Metropolitan Police officer, whose impromptu dance routine at the Notting Hill Carnival earned him the nickname ‘the Skanking Policeman’ after it was seen more than 200,000 times on YouTube, has been named as PC Simon Lawrence.
Footage of PC Lawrence doing the skank has been broadcast as far away as America and Australia, where TV stations carried the story about the ‘hunt for the mystery police officer’.
PC Lawrence, whose colleagues nickname him ‘Bullitt’ because he has driven fast police cars like Steve McQueen, star of the 1968 movie, told The Mail on Sunday he had been “staggered” by the response to his dance.
He decided to dance along with the crowd on the spur of the moment, midway through a 15.5-hour shift and well aware that he could be in for a tough day in the wake of the riots elsewhere in London and a previous history of trouble at the carnival.
He was captured dancing by YouTube user ‘Turtus Maximus’, whose video shows PC Lawrence swaying from side to side, gyrating and waving his arms before temporarily removing his helmet as three young women join in.
As he dances next to a sound system blaring out loud dance music, the MC can be heard shouting: “Big up the police inside the place.”
PC Lawrence, a married father of one who joined the Met 18 years ago, said: “Some people go on The X Factor thinking they can sing. I think I can dance!
“I often embarrass my wife and family at parties because I love dancing to Seventies and Eighties dance music, and in my youth I used to be a DJ.”
PC Lawrence’s remarkable Caribbean rhythm may have something to do with the fact that his late father Ric was born in Barbados.
PC Lawrence said: “This was my ninth year on duty at the carnival, and there wasn’t a police officer there who didn’t think it had the potential to go wrong. You do have to know when to relax and when not to, and for how long.
“We’re there to work and you have to keep an eye on what’s going on, but we were amazed how many people came up and praised the police for the way we had handled the riots.
“The dance was an impulse, not a planned thing. It’s what I do naturally. People are there and egg you on, so you join in the fun. Sometimes in the past we have felt we were gatecrashing the party. But if you break down the barriers and take part, it tends to work. I find it makes the day go a lot quicker than standing there just looking.
“After the film of me dancing appeared, I did get ribbed by my mates and by my bosses, but it was done in a friendly way.
“My dance has become known as the Babylon Skank because West Indians often use the term Babylon for the police. They’ll say, “Watch out. Babylon coming.” But most of the carnival was positive and I enjoyed the whole thing.”
PC Lawrence says policing is his 29th career. He has previously been a sheet metal worker, welder, electronics engineer, lighting installer, fire alarm technician, nightclub manager and computer technician.