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YouTube Pranksters Warned They "Could Be Shot" By Police

The Metropolitan Police Federation has warned that public stunts by the popular British YouTubers could result in one of them being shot.

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A group of online pranksters have been warned they face being arrested or even shot if they continue to carry out provocative and potentially dangerous stunts in public.

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A Trollstation member pointing a gun at armed police outside Westminster Palace in a 2015 video.

The Trollstation group's eponymous YouTube channel has 650,000 subscribers and has clocked up 177 million views for its public pranks and "social experiments" that test the public's attitude to various fake scenarios.

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Two members of Trollstation in full police uniform staging a fake arrest in a video in 2015.

Metropolitan Police Federation chair Ken Marsh made the warning on the BBC's Inside Out programme on Monday.

Marsh told BuzzFeed News: "We've got a sense of humour as police officers. But if you want to do something which puts my officers into a position where they're going to have to respond and you step that up to officers who carry firearms then you're playing a very, very dangerous game."

Referring to a video from March 2015 in which a Trollstation member pointed a toy Nerf gun at armed police officers outside the houses of parliament, Marsh said the group's antics had gone beyond comedy and satire.

View this video on YouTube

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"How bloody stupid do you want to be?" he said. "In this world we're living in, of serious well-known threats of terrorism, I don't care if it's painted yellow, red, pink, green with spots on – you can paint a real gun like that.

"If you want to offer something like that in front of my colleagues the likelihood is that if you do not respond correctly you're going to end up getting shot, that's a fact. There's no ifs, buts, whys, or whens, this is serious."

Marsh added that fighting in public, even as part of a prank, could also result in arrest under public order laws.

Trollstation's CEO, Light (real name Endrit Ferizoli), told BuzzFeed News the group have already changed their ways and no longer do stunts that involve fake guns.

The group now concentrate on social experiments such as their recent "Breast Feeding Experiment", in which two Trollstation members faked an argument on a tube carriage.

"All of the footage in the documentary that showed extreme pranks was old footage," Light said. "The bomb footage was from when the whole thing with Ahmed and the clock was going on in America, they were months ago. We've already changed the tone of our pranks."

Light said Trollstation inform the police whenever they carry out public pranks using the 101 number and receive case numbers in return. Despite this, he said, officers have turned up to stop their filming anyway.

Marsh said this claim was "utter rubbish" and denied that the police would condone any such public pranks.

Light said: "You have to bare in mind that if you walk out your house and you're in public, you need to expect that things can happen – there could be a real fight. I've seen loads of real fights that I've broken up.

"What we do isn't something so extreme that it doesn't happen in real life. It's better when we do it because it's not real. A lot of people really want to know how they'd react in certain situations."

The group may have changed tactics but their past has caught up with them. One of the group's founding members, Dan Van Lee, AKA DigiDan, is facing jail for a video in which a fake bomb, supposedly left in a briefcase, was put in various public locations in London.

He pleaded guilty at Camberwell magistrates' court and will be sentenced at Camberwell crown court on 10 February.

The group has publicly distanced itself from him since his court appearance and tweeted last night that he had left for good.

This is a sad Day Digi Dan and Cameraman has left Trollstation GOODBYE

We may take the piss sometimes but we mean no harm and we are no threat we are filmmakers pranksters entertainers

Days earlier, DigiDan appeared to be tweeting from the group's account in his own voice about his court appearance.

Sooner or later you guys were gonna find out within 14 days I will find out if I will go jail or not

The truth is they wanna lock me up and throw away the key

Despite the setbacks, the group are still planning on expanding and getting closer to 1 million subscribers. They're currently raising £5,000 via indiegogo to tour the UK, visiting 12 cities along the way.

Trollstation said in a statement: "We would also like to reassure the public that we do perform a risk assessment before every video and this helps us to insure the public are never in any danger.

"Our aim is to produce ground breaking social experiments, street theatre and a new style of 21st century comedy whilst also shinning a light on racism, sexism and a whole host of other social issues. The backbone of British society is that we all have freedom of speech and freedom of opinion and expression."

The Met told BuzzFeed News in a statement: "The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of a group carrying out stunts and pranks that could cause alarm or distress to members of the public and lead to a police response that could end as a waste of police time.

"Should police be called to any such incidents, consideration will be given to any possible offences committed and could lead to arrest."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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