Policing of Photographers

 Snapshot of a British police state



26th November
2008
  

Update: A Snapshot of a Police State...

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More photographers under duress

Wimbledon Station A couple of weeks ago a 15-year old schoolboy on a geography field trip was stopped by police under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act for taking a photograph of Wimbledon train station as part of his of GCSE course.

Community Support Officers forced him to give his details and sign a form or face arrest (legal note: You do not have to give your details under and stop and search, despite what lies the police will say and never sign any police notes).

Last week the police stopped four students from Kingston University from filming an interview with the anti-war Parliament Square protesters as part of their MA in Film Making. The police approached the students and told them they would need a permit from the Council to film. Brian Haw from the Parliament Square peace camp filmed this incident, but the police curiously didn't stop him from filming! Later the students returned with a letter from the University course director explaining their work and that it was not for commercial purposes and the students were covered by the University's insurance. But police would still not let the students film and when challenged refused to check with superiors.

 

7th December
2008
  

Offsite: The War on Photographers...


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Police Rules of engagement

NPIA logoThe National Police Improvement Agency, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers has now issued some updated advice.

It includes:

Photography

The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place. Officers should not prevent people taking photographs unless they are in an area where photography is prevented by other legislation.

If officers reasonably suspect that photographs are being taken as part of hostile terrorist reconnaissance, a search under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or an arrest should be considered. Film and memory cards may be seized as part of the search, but officers do not have a legal power to delete images or destroy film. Although images may be viewed as part of a search, to preserve evidence when cameras or other devices are seized, officers should not normally attempt to examine them. Cameras and other devices should be left in the state they were found and forwarded to appropriately trained staff for forensic examination. The person being searched should never be asked or allowed to turn the device on or off because of the danger of evidence being lost or damaged.

General Points

Terrorism powers must never be used for matters that are not related to terrorism.

Officers should take care to correctly record the power used on the record of search. Officers searching under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (but not section 43) can require subjects to remove footwear and headgear in public. (Officers should be aware of cultural sensitivities when requiring people to remove headgear .)

There is no power to stop people taking photographs or digital images in public places under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Terrorism powers of search should be conducted in accordance with the principles of Code A of PACE

...Read full article

 

21st December
2008
  

Update: Snapshot of a Police State...


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Government clarifies police powers to stop people taking photos

In a letter to the National Union of Journalists, the Minister for security and counter-terrorism, Vernon Kay, clarified that the police may stop photographers taking pictures or videos when the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. The Police have already been using heightened security tensions and their powers under the Terrorism Act to remove and harass people documenting political demonstrations, which was the cause of the dialogue with the NUJ.

This signifies the Home Office coming clean and admitting from now on the Police will have ability to remove anyone at all with a camera - all the police have to do is declare, possibly not even publicly, that there are special circumstances:

Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person's own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others.

This means if you witnessed the police bundling someone into the back of a van and decided to film it on your camera phone, you would be breaking the law. If a professional journalist did so, they would also be breaking the law.

 

6th January
2009
  

Update Spotting a Police State...

UK trainspotters harassed by police

UK Police are using draconian anti-terrorism powers against trainspotters, it has emerged.

Enthusiasts innocently taking photographs of carriages and noting serial numbers have ludicrously been accused of behaving like a reconnaissance unit for a terror cell.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 has been used to stop a staggering 62,584 people at railway stations. Another 87,000 were questioned under separate stop and search and stop and account legislation.

The figures were uncovered by Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker, who warned that Britain was sliding towards a police state. While it is important to be vigilant about the threat of terrorism to the transport network, the sheer scale of the number of people stopped by police on railway property is ridiculous.

The anti-terror laws allow officers to stop people for taking photographs and I know this has led to innocent trainspotters being stopped. This is an abuse of anti-terrorism powers and a worrying sign that we are sliding towards a police state.

 

7th January
2009
  

Update: Terrorised by Police...

Artists and photographers harassed by police

Reuben Powell is an unlikely terrorist. A white, middle-aged, middle-class artist, he has been photographing and drawing life around the capital's Elephant & Castle for 25 years.

With a studio near the 1960s shopping centre at the heart of this area in south London, he is a familiar figure and is regularly seen snapping and sketching the people and buildings around his home. But to the policemen who arrested him last week his photographing of the old HMSO print works close to the local police station posed an unacceptable security risk.

The car skidded to a halt like something out of Starsky & Hutch and this officer jumped out very dramatically and said 'what are you doing?' I told him I was photographing the building and he said he was going to search me under the Anti-Terrorism Act, he recalled.

For Powell, this brush with the law resulted in five hours in a cell after police seized the lock-blade knife he uses to sharpen his pencils. His release only came after the intervention of the local MP, Simon Hughes, but not before he was handcuffed and his genetic material stored permanently on the DNA database.

But Powell's experience is far from uncommon. Every week photographers wielding their cameras in public find themselves on the receiving end of warnings either by police, who stop them under the trumped up justification of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, or from over-eager officials who believe that photography in a public area is somehow against the law.

Groups from journalists to trainspotters have found themselves on the receiving end of this unwanted attention, with many photographers now fearing that their job or hobby could be under threat.

Yet, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers, the law is straightforward. Police officers may not prevent someone from taking a photograph in public unless they suspect criminal or terrorist intent. Their powers are strictly regulated by law and once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order. This applies equally to members of the media seeking to record images, who do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places, a spokeswoman said.

But still the harassment goes on. Philip Haigh, the business editor of Rail magazine, said the bullying of enthusiasts on railway platforms has become an unwelcome fact of life in Britain: It is a problem that doesn't ever seem to go away. We get complaints from railway photographers all the time that they are told to stop what they are doing, mainly by railway staff but also by the police. It usually results in an apologetic letter from a rail company .

 

9th January
2009
  

Update: Path to a Police State...

UK MP stopped for taking pictures of cycle path

Conservative MP Andrew Pelling has said he was stopped and searched by police on suspicion of being a terrorist after taking photographs of a cycle path.

The MP for Central Croydon was stopped by police under trumped up anti-terrorism laws on December 30.

Despite him showing his House of Commons pass to the officers, they insisted on searching him after they found him taking photos of a cycle path in his area.

He told police that he was taking photos to highlight a long-neglected bicycle and pedestrian route, which had been of concern to his constituents and that he was intending on taking the photos to Parliament to illustrate the dangers posed by the protracted maintenance works.

But the two officers insisted on searching him after they told him they thought he was taking photos of East Croydon train station. They searched his bag, but after finding nothing of interest they sent the MP on his way.

A police spokeswoman said: An officer stopped and searched a man's bag in Cherry Orchard Road on December 30, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. The officer conducted a stop-and-search, taking into account the current terror threat, as he was taking pictures in the vicinity of a major transport hub.

 

17th February
2009
  

Offsite: A British Story of Lost Liberty...

Why can't we take pictures of policemen?
Haw forced to teh ground by police outside parliament

You're arrested:
assault & camera battery

Too often in recent years the public dialogue in our country has undervalued the importance of liberty, Gordon Brown said: Now is the time to reaffirm our distinctive British story of liberty – to show it is as rich, powerful and relevant to the life of the nation today as ever; to apply its lessons to the new tests of our time.

Yet, not for the first time, what the Government does bears no resemblance to its rhetoric. From today, new counter-terrorism laws come into effect that will entrench a growing tendency by the police to prevent anyone taking photographs in public, especially if they (the police) are the subject. There has been a worrying increase recently in police arresting or seeking to prevent what is a lawful activity.

...Read full article

 

18th February
2009
  

Update: Another Liberty Shuttered Up...

More police excuses to prohibit photography
Haw forced to teh ground by police outside parliament

Copper: What time is it please?
Protester: It's ten past three.
Copper: You're arrested for providing information useful to terrorists.

Hundreds of photographers protested outside Scotland Yard in London as a new law which they claim restricts their freedom came into force.

Under section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, illiciting, publishing or communicating information on members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers which is likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism will carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Photographers fear police will use the law to prevent lawful pictures of protests being taken.

To mark the law, at least 300 photographers gathered outside Scotland Yard to exercise their democratic right – and take pictures.

The police officers present were repeatedly photographed, but took the protest in good spirit.

Some photographers wore masks and fancy dress, while others wore stickers that said: I am a photographer – not a terrorist.

David Hoffman, a photographer with 32 years' experience, said he now carries shinpads in his bag, claiming he had been kicked by police officers at protests. He said: They have been beautiful today, but it's the individual officer who's on his own at a back-street anti-fur protest. He's less accountable.

When I started, photographers were seen as representatives of the press, an important part of a public event. But over the last 30 years that has deteriorated. They're using the law as an excuse to stop photographers when, politically, they don't want coverage. Animal rights protests, peace marches, of course the poll tax – police are simply saying: We don't want this in the paper.

Marc Vallee, protest co-organiser and a photographer well-known for covering protests, said: This has been amazing. Photographers are fed up with the way they have been treated for the last few years. They are trying to do their job in a professional way and the counter-terrorism laws are being used against them. I have had colleagues that have come out of the tube station to cover a protest, with press card, and officers have come across and said: I'm stopping you under section 44 [stop and search powers].

What is that doing for press freedom?

 

11th April
2009
  

Offsite: Zooming in on the Snapper-Stoppers...

Police making it up as they harass photographers

The Home Office has at last conceded that the policing of photographers requires a little more scrutiny. Tory MP and Assistant Chief Whip John Randall extracted an admission from the Home Office that it was an issue in need of further review.

Print Display worker Piers Mason can bear this out, having been stopped and questioned about his photographic activities last week.

As police closed down large sections of the City of London last week in readiness for the G20 protests, Mason was not impressed when police officers asked him to explain why he had taken photos of a TV crew outside the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Bishopsgate Offices. He said: I saw a film crew setting up outside RBS and thought that would make an interesting picture. The next thing I knew, three police officers approached me and asked me to explain what I was doing. According to them, this was to ‘investigate suspected crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour’.

A quick web search reveals that this particular formulation is one used frequently by Police in connection with Stops under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), either when searching an individual, or when simply asking an individual to account for their actions.

Mason reckons the encounter took around 20 minutes, during which police logged his personal details, checked them against the Police Computer, and finally entered his name and details into a Stops Database.

...Read full article

 

19th April
2009
  

Update: Police Hate Cameras...I Wonder Why?...

UK police force tourists to delete photos of London buses 'to stop terrorism'

London bus No tourist trip to London is complete without a set of holiday snaps. But a father and son were forced to return home to Austria without their pictures after policemen deleted them from their camera - supposedly in a bid to prevent terrorism.

Klaus Matzka and his son, Loris from Vienna, were taking photographs of a double-decker bus in Walthamstow, north-east London, when two policemen approached them.

Austrian tourists Klaus and Loris Matzka were ordered to delete pictures of a London double decker in Walthamstow

The tourists were told it is strictly forbidden to take pictures of anything to do with public transport and their names, passport numbers and hotel address in London were noted.

Matzka was then forced to delete any holiday snaps that featured anything to do with transport.

The Metropolitan Police said it was investigating the allegations and had no knowledge of any ban on photographing public transport in London. [yeah yeah]. A spokeswoman added: It is not the police's intention to prevent tourists from taking photographs and we are looking into the allegations made.

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and a Green party member of the London assembly, said the incident was 'another example of the police completely overreaching the anti-terrorism powers'. She said she would raise the issue with the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, as part of the discussion into police methods at the G20 protests, adding: I have already written to him about the police taking away cameras and stopping people taking photographs.

 

24th April
2009
  

Update: Down the Tube...

Transport for London enter the game of restricting photography

TfL logo Photos taken on London's Tube network — even tourist snapshots — may require a £34.50 permit, say Underground bosses who insist that the rules haven't changed.

Transport for London (TfL) has revamped its website in a move designed to make it easier to apply for a filming or a photography permit on the Tube. Though TfL says London Underground will adopt a common sense approach when dealing with amateur photography, a spokesman told us: Our position is that if you wish to take a photograph on our property you should seek permission. ...[And pay up].

 

20th June
2009
  

Update: A Snapshot of Abuse of Law...

Lord Carlile endorses popular view that police routinely abuse anti-terrorism powers

Lord CarlileThousands of people are being stopped and searched by the police under counter-terrorism powers simply to provide a racial balance in official statistics, the government's official anti-terror law watchdog has revealed.

Alex Carlile is the Government's appointed Independent Reviewer of terrorism legislation. He said in his annual report that he has got ample anecdotal evidence , adding that it was totally wrong and an invasion of civil liberties to stop and search people simply to racially balance the statistics: I can well understand the concerns of the police that they should be free from allegations of prejudice. But it is not a good use of precious resources if they waste them on self-evidently unmerited searches."

The official reviewer of counter-terrorist legislation said there was little or no evidence that the use of section 44 stop-and-search powers by the police can prevent an act of terrorism: Whilst arrests for other crime have followed searches under the section, none of the many thousands of searches has ever resulted in a conviction for a terrorism offence. Its utility has been questioned publicly and privately by senior Metropolitan police staff with wide experience of terrorism policing. He added that such searches were stopping between 8,000-10,000 people a month.

None of the many thousands of searches had ever led to a conviction for a terrorist offence, he said. He noted, too, that the damage done to community relations was undoubtedly considerable.

The Met has announced a review of how it uses section 44 powers. And the home secretary, Alan Johnson, is to issue fresh guidance to the police, warning that counter-terrorism must not be used to stop people taking photographs of on-duty officers.

Carlile uses his annual report to endorse complaints from professional and amateur photographers that counter-terror powers are being used to threaten prosecution if pictures are taken of officers on duty.

He said the power was only intended to cover images likely to be of use to a terrorist: It is inexcusable for police officers ever to use this provision to interfere with the rights of individuals to take photographs. The police had to come to terms with the increased scrutiny of their activities by the public, afforded by equipment such as video-enabled mobile phones. Police officers who use force or threaten force in this context run the real risk of being prosecuted themselves for one or more of several possible criminal and disciplinary offences, he warned.

 

24th June
2009
  

Data Protection Bollox...

Schools are wrong to cite data protection to ban family photos

photo album Parents who want to take photos of their children in school plays or at sports days can once again snap happily away.

The privacy watchdog says authorities that have banned parents taking shots for the family album are wrongly interpreting the rules.

Relatives wanting to take pictures at nativity plays, sports days or other public events are often told that doing so would breach the Data Protection Act. But the Office of the Information Commissioner has said this interpretation of the law is simply wrong.

It decreed that any picture taken for the family photograph album would normally be acceptable.

This guidance can now be used by parents and grandparents to challenge barmy rulings relating to the upcoming school sports day season.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith said: We recognise that parents want to capture significant moments on camera. We want to reassure them and other family members that whatever they might be told, data protection does not prevent them taking photographs of their children and friends at school events. Photographs taken for the family photo album are exempt from the Act and citing the Data Protection Act to stop people taking photos or filming their children at school is wrong.

The guidance, sent to education authorities across the country, says: Fear of breaching the provisions of the Act should not be wrongly used to stop people taking photographs or videos which provide many with much pleasure.

 

11th July
2009
  

Update: A Snapshot of Rights...

Metropolitan Police issue guidance about public photography

Metropiltan Police badge The Metropolitan Police have issued guidance about public photography.

Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs through briefings and internal communications.

The following advice is available to all officers and provides a summary of the Metropolitan Police Service's guidance around photography in public places.

Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.

Photography and Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, provided that the viewing is to determine whether the images contained in the camera or mobile telephone are of a kind, which could be used in connection with terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism.

Photography and Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to discover whether they have in their possession anything which may constitute evidence that they are involved in terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is involved in terrorism.

Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000

Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 covers the offence of eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police.

Any officer making an arrest for an offence under Section 58a must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the information was of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

It should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to use Section 58a to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism.

There is however nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty's Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable.

Guidelines for MPS staff on dealing with media reporters, press photographers and television crews

Contact with photographers, reporters and television crews is a regular occurrence for many officers and staff. The media influences our reputation so it's crucial to maintain good working relations with its members, even in difficult circumstances.

Following these guidelines means both media and police can fulfil their duties without hindering each other.

Creating vantage points

When areas are cordoned off following an incident, creating a vantage point, if possible, where members of the media at the scene can see police activity, can help them do their job without interfering with a police operation. However, media may still report from areas accessible to the general public.

 

18th July
2009
  

Offsite: New Heights of Absurdity...

Kent Police clamp down on tall photographers

Kent police According to his blog, our over-tall photographer Alex Turner was taking snaps in Chatham High St last Thursday, when he was approached by two unidentified men. They did not identify themselves, but demanded that he show them some ID and warned that if he failed to comply, they would summon police officers to deal with him.

This they did, and a PCSO and WPC quickly joined the fray. Turner took a photo of the pair, and was promptly arrested. It is unclear from his own account precisely what he was being arrested for. However, he does record that the WPC stated she had felt threatened by him when he took her picture, referring to his size - 5' 11" and about 12 stone - and implying that she found it intimidating.

Turner claims he was handcuffed, held in a police van for around 20 minutes, and forced to provide ID before they would release him. He was then searched in public by plain clothes officers who failed to provide any ID before they did so.

This is just the latest in a long line of PR disasters that have dogged police forces over the last 12 months, with tourists, schoolboys and passers-by all subject to arrest for the heinous offence of pursuing their hobby. Each incident is followed by much police hand-wringing, and statements to the effect that these are one-offs: the fault of over-zealous individual officers.

...Read full article

 

29th July
2009
  

Reporting Blocked by Police...

Journalists challenge the police over their photography ban

Photographer blocked at protest Do we need a free press? Judging by their recent actions, police officers don't seem to think so. Professional journalists and photographers have detailed numerous attempts by police officers to stifle the reporting of protests. Today their fightback moves up a pace, as the commissioner of the Metropolitan police is served papers demanding acceptance of liability, the payment of damages, and an apology, following the alleged assault and unlawful obstruction of two journalists going about their work.

Investigative photojournalist Marc Vallée and videographer Jason Parkinson, were covering protests – prompted by the shooting of a teenage demonstrator in Athens by Greek police – outside the Greek Embassy in London. In video recorded by Parkinson, an armed officer from the Metropolitan police's diplomatic protection group is shown pulling Vallée's camera away from his face. The officer goes on to cover the lens of Parkinson's video camera with his hand, stating you cannot film me.

The pair were not interrupting police activity and in fact they had not had any contact with the police prior to being confronted. When they are instructed move away, they comply but in a later incident, they are forcibly removed from the area, and ordered to report from a distance which, they claim, made accurate recording of events impossible.

 

23rd August
2009
  

Update: Home Office Snaps...

The Home Office has admitted that counter-terrorism laws shouldn't be used against photographers

Home Offie logo Finally some good news for photographers. This week the Home Office's security and counter-terrorism section sent out new advice to all chief police officers in the UK to clarify counter-terrorism legislation in relation to photography in a public place .

This has been a long time coming for photographers – both amateur and professional alike – who have been targeted by the state as potential terrorists for the act of taking a photograph in a public place. This year has already seen some astonishing abuses of counter-terror powers, including Austrian tourists forced to delete their holiday pictures from their cameras by police officers and a Kent photographer arrested for being too tall.

So is this new government advice going to change anything on the ground? I know I will print it off and use it next time I'm stopped by the police. But I do wonder how many frontline officers will have received and read a copy of the guidance – let alone accept it.

The newly launched I'm a photographer, not a terrorist! campaign welcomed the updated advice but also remains concerned about whether the advice to police officers will filter down to street level.

A letter from David Hanson, the minister responsible for crime and policing, to Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, expresses his belief that the advice will end speculation on section 58A . Hanson believes the circular removes once and for all any suggestion that the new offence can be used to prosecute innocent photographers such as responsible journalists, simply because they are taking a photograph of a police officer.

New advice and liaison with the NUJ are all welcome and good, but – and it's a big but – what takes place on the ground is the real test.

 

26th August
2009
  

Update: Refining Risk...

Photography and shit policing comes to the attention of the Daily Mail

Milford Haven station When trainspotter Stephen White noticed some interesting engines, he wasted no time in taking pictures of them for his collection.

It was the start of a bizarre sequence of events involving midnight phone calls, police raids and even, it is claimed, suspected terrorism.

White who was on a camping holiday in Wales with his sister Helen and her two children, was caught on CCTV from a nearby oil refinery as he took the photographs.
Stephen White with his sister Helen and her children Bryn and Jessica

Miss White's car number plate was also noted and police traced it to her home in Lincolnshire, where a neighbour gave them her mobile phone number.

An officer then phoned her in the early hours and demanded she take the photos to a police station despite her innocent explanation. Police swooped on the campsite the next day, and again demanded to take the photos.

But Mr White and his sister say they were so annoyed with the officers for not believing that they were not terrorists and for harassing them that they refused to hand over the snaps. The next day, they say, their car was pulled over by a police officer with his blue lights flashing. Again, he demanded the camera and pictures, but the family stood their ground.

Mr White said: We were treated and hunted as if we were terrorists and a threat to national security, which was ridiculous. This has totally ruined the holiday, just because I'm a bit of a train geek who took pictures of some engines.

'It's just an innocent photo - which you could find on Google Earth anyway. I've put a complaint in to the police already but they still won't let it rest.'

A spokesprat for Dyfed Powys Police confirmed that officers sought an explanation from Mr White regarding his activities following a report of suspicious behaviour at an oil refinery site in West Wales. Following an explanation from him, no further action was taken.

 

19th September
2009
  

Offsite: Gaps in the Family Album...

Photography: a model of lost liberty

Britannia pixellated People From nativity plays to football matches we must defend amateur photographers from creeping restrictions

There is no overarching ban on photography, nor is their likely to be. Yet, as a new Manifesto Club report by gallery director Pauline Hadaway outlines, there is growing regulation of citizen photography, with touchy subjects now ranging from policemen to transport facilities, from children's nativity plays to football matches.

This is a model of how liberty is lost today: often not with a blanket draconian law, but through incoherent and creeping restriction at a local level, with rules drawn up by community safety wardens, private security guards and other self-appointed "jobsworths".

Leaving aside the headline-grabbing misuse of counter-terror laws, it is the restrictions on photographing children that perhaps have had the most devastating social impact. A generation of kids is growing up with gaps in the family photo album:

...Read full article

 

4th December
2009
  

Update: A Picture of a Police State...

British police abuse the photographing public

Uk Supreme CourtPolice have been accused of misusing powers granted under anti-terror legislation after a series of incidents, ranging from the innocuous to the bizarre, in which photographers were questioned by officers for taking innocent pictures of tourist destinations, landmarks and even a fish and chip shop.

Police are allowed to stop and search anyone in a designated Section 44 authorisation zone without having to give a reason. But amateur and professional photographers have complained that they are frequently being stopped and treated as potential terrorists on a reconnaissance mission. Last night the Government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws warned police forces to carefully examine how they use the controversial legislation.

Speaking to The Independent, Lord Carlile of Berriew said: The police have to be very careful about stopping people who are taking what I would call leisure photographs, and indeed professional photographers. The fact that someone is taking photographs is not prima facie a good reason for stop and search and is very far from raising suspicion. It is a matter of concern and the police will know that they have to look at this very carefully, he added.

Lord Carlile's comments come just days after a BBC journalist was stopped and searched by two police community support officers as he took photographs of St Paul's Cathedral. Days earlier Andrew White was stopped and asked to give his name and address after taking photographs of Christmas lights on his way to work in Brighton. And in July Alex Turner, an amateur photographer from Kent, was arrested after he took pictures of Mick's Plaice, a fish and chip shop in Chatham.

Most of those stopped are told they are being questioned under Section 44, a controversial power which allows senior officers to designate entire areas of their police force regions as stop-and-search zones. More than 100 exist in London alone, covering areas such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and other landmarks. Every train station in the UK is covered by a Section 44 order. But, due to the fear that the information could be used by terrorists to plan attacks, most of the the exact locations covered by Section 44 authorisations are kept secret, meaning members of the public have no idea if they are in one or not.

 

7th December
2009
  

Update: Police with a Bad Image...

British police told to back off from abusing their powers by targeting photographers

ACPO logoPolice forces across the country have been warned to stop using anti-terror laws to question and search innocent photographers after The Independent forced senior officers to admit that the controversial legislation is being widely misused.

The strongly worded warning was circulated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) last night. In an email sent to the chief constables of England and Wales's 43 police forces, officers were advised that Section 44 powers should not be used unnecessarily against photographers. The message says: Officers and community support officers are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos. Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional, is unacceptable. Related articles

Chief Constable Andy Trotter, chairman of Acpo's media advisory group, took the decision to send the warning after growing criticism of the police's treatment of photographers.

Writing in today's Independent, he says: Everyone... has a right to take photographs and film in public places. Taking photographs... is not normally cause for suspicion and there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place.

He added: We need to make sure that our officers and Police Community Support Officers [PCSOs] are not unnecessarily targeting photographers just because they are going about their business. The last thing in the world we want to do is give photographers a hard time or alienate the public. We need the public to help us.

Photographers should be left alone to get on with what they are doing. If an officer is suspicious of them for some reason they can just go up to them and have a chat with them – use old-fashioned policing skills to be frank – rather than using these powers, which we don't want to over-use at all.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act allows the police to stop and search anyone they want, without need for suspicion, in a designated area. The exact locations of many of these areas are kept secret from the public, but are thought to include every railway station in and well-known tourist landmarks thought to be at risk of terrorist attacks.

Many photographers have complained that officers are stopping them in the mistaken belief that the legislation prohibits photographs in those areas.

The abuse has resulted in nearly 100 complaints to the police watchdog. Since April 2008 every complaint made by a member of the public about the use of Section 44 powers, unlike other complaints, must be forwarded to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. In the past 18 months there have been 94 complaints. Eight of these specifically mentioned the fact that the issue arose around photography.

This is part of the message circulated by Andy Trotter, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, to police forces in England and Wales.

Officers and PCSOs are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos.

There are very clear rules around how stop-and-search powers can be used. However, there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so.

We need to co-operate with the media and amateur photographers. They play a vital role as their images help us identify criminals.

We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever.

However, unnecessarily restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and worse still, it undermines public confidence in the police service.

 

12th December
2009
  

Diary: Mass Photo Gathering...

Protest against the police targeting of photographers

Mass Photo Gathering
Saturday 23rd January 2010, Noon
Trafalgar Square, London

I'm a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! invite all Photographers to a mass photo gathering in defence of street photography.

Following a series of high profile detentions under s44 of the terrorism act including 7 armed police detaining an award winning architectural photographer in the City of London, the arrest of a press photographer covering campaigning santas at City Airport and the stop and search of a BBC photographer at St Pauls Cathedral and many others. PHNAT feels now is the time for a mass turnout of Photographers, professional and amateur to defend our rights and stop the abuse of the terror laws.

Offsite: Police snapper silliness reaches new heights

See article from theregister.co.uk by John Ozimek

The City of London's police decision to stop and quiz London Tonight reporter Marcus Powell, who was out with an ITN crew filming a story about Grant Smith's little contretemps with the boys in blue shows extreme dedication to the cause of foot-in-mouth policing.

According to a spokesman for City of London Police, Powell was initially asked whether he had a permit to film, and then on showing his press card was allowed to continue.

The real question now is: will police efforts to alienate the public and piss off press photographers continue into 2010. Early indications are that common sense should soon reassert itself and we will finally be able to stop reporting on the increasingly silly interactions that appear to take place on an almost daily basis between police and photographers.

Offsite: We're photographers, not terrorists

See article from guardian.co.uk by Marc Vallée

In August I wrote that the Home Office advice to police forces would be tested on the ground. It is clear that both the police and government have failed photographers as the abuse is still taking place. If the government is really serious about protecting public photography – and many photographers would doubt this – then the first place to start would be to scrap section 44 once and for all.

This is why I will be in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon on Saturday 23 January 2010 for the I'm a Photographer Not a terrorist! mass picture taking event along with hundreds of other photographers to exercise our democratic right to make a picture in a public place.

 

18th December
2009
  

Update: Police Terrorise Photographers...

Police are an offence against public order

Metropiltan Police badgePolice community support officers (PCSOs) stopped Italian student Simona Bonomo under anti-terrorism legislation for filming buildings in London. Moments later, she was arrested by other officers, held in a police cell and fined.

An Italian student has described how she was stopped by police under anti-terrorist legislation while filming buildings, and later arrested, held in a police cell for five hours and given a fixed penalty notice.

Simona Bonomo, an art student at London Metropolitan University at London Metropolitan University, filmed the moment on 19 November when she was approached by two police community support officers (PCSOs) in Paddington, west London.

When Bonomo was challenged by one PCSO, she said she was filming just for fun . He replied: You like looking at those buildings do you? You're basically filming for fun? I don't believe you.

Bonomo then declined his request to see what she had filmed. I can have a look if I want to, if I think it may be linked to terrorism. This is an iconic site, he replied.

Bonomo then said she was an artist. You're an artist? Have you got any proof or any identification? he said. After accusing Bonomo of being cocky, the PCSO said she had been cycling the wrong way down a one-way street and threatened to fine her. After she apologised, the PCSOs departed, but returned moments later with about six police officers, she said.

She was searched and, after an altercation with one officer, was accused of being aggressive, bundled to the ground and arrested. The PCSOs were not involved in the arrest. After five hours in a police cell, Bonomo said she was told to sign an £80 fixed penalty fine for a public order offence. She plans to contest the penalty, which stipulated she caused harassment, alarm and distress in public.

Bonomo returned the next day to interview builders who had witnessed her arrest. Footage of the interviews appears to corroborate her account. I was disgusted, one said. They were terribly out of order. There was one officer who was spiteful to you.

 

19th December
2009
  

Offsite: Police Repression in Media Focus...

Keep policing by consent in the frame

ACPO logoFor those with an axe to grind over authority, the past week or so has been great fun: but has something fundamental changed in the way the public now respond to being policed?

After a year in which the policing of photography has been something of a minority interest, there has been a parade of stories about photographers arrested or stopped for apparently spurious reasons and a flurry of journalists out and about waving cameras in the faces of police and community support officers. YouTube is growing fat on footage of police-camera confrontation.

This is heavy stuff: no wonder a series of senior officers have started speaking up. In November HM Inspector of Constabulary warned of the perils of police losing the battle for the public's consent . Andy Trotter, a rising star in the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said much the same thing last week. This week, it was the turn of John Yates, widely regarded as one of the Met's safest pairs of hands, to remind the rank and file, in no uncertain terms, to respect the public right to photograph.

...Read full article

 

30th December
2009
  

Update: Hostile Police...

Police should stop treating photographers as terrorists

Royal Photographic Society logoMore than 350 photographers have issued a joint plea to end the hostile and humiliating use of anti-terror laws to prevent them taking pictures in public.

The professional and amateur photographers have signed a letter, published in The Sunday Telegraph, calling on ministers and the police halt the practice of them being stopped and searched while they are taking images in public places.

The letter, whose signatories include Rosemary Wilman, the president of the Royal Photographic Society, and the photographer and historian Professor John Hannavy, says:

As professional and amateur photographers, we are deeply concerned about the treatment of those taking pictures in public places. Photographers using equipment larger than a compact camera are frequently stopped and searched under anti-terrorist legislation, which they find humiliating.

We do not believe it likely that real terrorists would bother to set up a tripod or use a heavy single-lens reflex camera, as perfectly satisfactory pictures for their purposes could be taken on a discreet camera phone.

If our photography has an effect on law and order, it is beneficial, as wrongdoers are unlikely to commit crimes in close proximity to someone visibly holding a camera.

Meanwhile, some in the police, especially PCSOs, believe it is illegal to take any pictures of a police officer. This is because of ambiguous legislation, introduced earlier this year, which made it an imprisonable offence to collect information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism . Given the existence of Google Street View, we do not believe the legislation should be used against ordinary photographers.

In March, at a meeting with representatives of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) and Amateur Photographer, the Home Office agreed to issue guidelines to police forces spelling out that the law must not be misused against those engaged in legitimate photographic activity. This does not appear to have had the desired effect.

Rather than treat photographers as terrorists, the Government should amend the Anti-Terrorism Act to prevent its misuse and explain to police forces that a hostile attitude towards photographers is unwelcome.

 

6th January
2010
  

Offsite: Royal Camera Thieves...

If we are all under suspicion, then we are all threatened

Sandringham ChurchPeople meekly accept official behaviour, even if they might strongly suspect it is the police who are behaving illegally

Even were I to live within walking distance of the Queen's Sandringham estate, it would never occur to me to spend any part of Christmas Day standing outside its church to take photographs of attendant members of the Royal Family. Yet, odd as such behaviour might seem – it's not as if the media don't produce film and pictures from the same event, saving everyone else the trouble – it is about as harmless as anything can be.

That, however, is not the view of the constabulary, which increasingly sees – or pretends to see – the most innocent acts as pregnant with potential criminality. I realise this attitude is inevitable in an organisation that daily encounters the bleakest aspects of human character, but traditionally the British police have managed this moral challenge without descending into obvious madness. Yet it was a peculiarly modern form of bureaucratic insanity, surely, which compelled the Norfolk Police officers in charge of this annual Christmas spectacle to confiscate the cameras of all the well-wishers lined up outside Sandringham church on Christmas Day.

...Read full article

 

24th January
2010
  

Update: I am a Photographer, Not a Terrorist...

2000 protest against police abuse of terrorist powers

Mass Phorographing Photographers fed up with being stopped and searched by British police under the country's terrorism laws gathered in London to protest against the practice.

Waving placards with the message, I am a photographer, not a terrorist, about 2,000 photographers called for more leniency from the British police.

The slogan is the name of a group set up to campaign against certain sections of Britain's Terrorism Act 2000, which was designed to give police greater powers to fight terrorism.

Photographers say they have been unduly targeted by Section 44 of the Act, which allow officers to stop and search people, regardless of whether they have reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

We're coming together to show solidarity and to show that we won't be intimidated, said Jonathan Warren, a freelance photographer and one of the founders of the campaign group.

A small number of police watched the protest Saturday in London's Trafalgar Square, but they maintained a low profile.

Some protesters wore police costumes and badges identifying themselves as vigilance officers, amid frequent camera flashes. Mock freedom wardens also made their way through the crowd pretending to arrest photographers.

 

24th February
2010
  

Update: Anti-Social Policing...

Police caught on camera making up the law to harass Accrington photographers

Lancashire Police badgePolice questioned an amateur photographer under anti-terrorist legislation and later arrested him, claiming pictures he was taking in a Lancashire town were suspicious and constituted antisocial behaviour .

Footage recorded on a video camera by Bob Patefield shows how police approached him and a fellow photography enthusiast in Accrington town centre. They were told they were being questioned under the Terrorism Act. They were taking photographs of Christmas festivities on 19 December. The last images on his camera before he was stopped show a picture of a Santa Claus, people in fancy dress and a pipe band marching through the town.

Patefield and his friend declined to give their details, as they are entitled to under the act. The police then appeared to change tack, claiming the way the men were taking images somehow constituted antisocial behaviour .

He turned on his video camera the moment he was approached by a police community support officer (PCSO). In the footage, she said: Because of the Terrorism Act and everything in the country, we need to get everyone's details who is taking pictures of the town.

Patefield declined to give his details and, after asking if he was free to go, walked away. However the PCSO and a police officer stopped the men in another part of the town. This time, the police officer repeatedly asked him to stop filming her and claimed his photography was suspicious and possibly antisocial .

Patefield asked if the officer had any reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify him giving his details.

She replied: I believe your behaviour was quite suspicious in the manner in which you were taking photographs in the town centre … I'm suspicious in why you were taking those pictures.

Patefield and his friend maintained that they did not want to disclose their details. They were stopped a third and final time when returning to their car. This time the officer was accompanied by an acting sergeant. Under law, fine, we can ask for your details – we've got no powers, he said. However, due to the fact that we believe you were involved in antisocial behaviour, ie taking photographs … then we do have a power under [the Police Reform Act] to ask for your name and address, and for you to provide it. If you don't, then you may be arrested.

Patefield was arrested for refusing to give his details, while his friend, who gave in, walked free. Patefield was held for eight hours and released without charge.

 

26th February
2010
  

Offsite: Customer Harassment Officer...

Meet Frank, just doing his job to harass shopping centre customers with children and camera

Bridges Sunderland Meet Frank*

Frank is a security guard.

Frank works at the Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland.

Frank thinks I may be a paedophile and is prepared to call the Police to make sure I'm not.

Frank is just obeying orders…..

Here's what happened...

...Read the full article

 

1st March
2010
  

Update: More Police Photographer Hassle...

Have all British police become complete arses?

kidlington police A man who photographed police while he was on a trip to buy fish and chips was searched under the usual abuse of anti-terrorism powers.

Stephen Russell spotted police swarming Kidlington High Street and, as he had his camera with him, he took four photos because it was unusual to see so much action in the centre of the village.

An officer demanded the ex-RAF engineer deleted the photos, but Russell, refused because it is not illegal to photograph police in a public place.

One officer then searched him. A form handed to Russell after the incident reveals he was searched using powers under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act. This legislation gives officers the power to stop and search a suspect they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist .

Russell turned out his pockets and the officer used his bank card to carry out an identification and criminal records check. When the details came back clear, Russell demanded paperwork for the stop-and-search.

The form says Russell was stopped for taking pictures on High Street, Kidlington, of police. Refused all details. Not recognised by officers . It names Pc Steve Burchett as using Section 43 legislation to carry out the search.

Russell plans to submit a complaint to Thames Valley Police, and added: He used the Terrorism Act to search me. I'm not a terrorist.

 

4th March
2010
  

Offsite: Police in Red...

More hassle for street photographers

red police The red official decided that I wasn't allowed to take pictures of him and the PCSO doing their job, I explained that I was and took another picture to prove it. He then instructed the PCSO to get my details and began ranting about terrorists and not wanting his picture in the paper.

The PCSO asked me to come on one side and talk to me which I did. He then began babbling about terrorists, asked me for my details and asked me why I had an attitude! I told him I would not give him my details. I told him that as he is a public officer I had every right to take his picture whilst doing his job, because unlike other countries law enforcement officers are accountable here. He told me that he didn't want his picture in the newspapers because of the terrorist threat.

...Read full article

 

7th March
2010
  

Offsite: Photography under Threat...

The shooting party's over

Sunday Times logo Did you hear the one about the mother banned from taking a snapshot of her baby in the pool? Or the student prevented from photographing Tower Bridge at sunset? Be warned. The authorities now have the power to confiscate your camera — or even arrest you — for daring to take a picture in public.

Put that camera away. Yes, you, put it away right now. This is a public place, you can't take pictures here. What right have you got to take photographs? People might not like it. Did they say you could take photographs? Did they? No. Are you some sort of paedo? A terrorist? Gimme that camera. Delete those images. Delete your rights, delete trust, delete innocence before guilt. You're nicked.

Perhaps I exaggerate a little: nevertheless, the days when you could photograph freely in public spaces are disappearing fast.

...Read full article

 

19th March
2010
  

Offsite: Bad Policing...

Home Office, EHRC rap top cop knuckles

EHRC logo The age-old dilemma of whether the police need more powers in order to carry out their job effectively was back in the public arena this week.

First, there was the publication of advice to police chiefs by Home Office Minister David Hanson warning in no uncertain terms that police over-enthusiasm to use Terror laws to clamp down on photography was counter-productive and undermining the War on Terror. On Monday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its report into recent police stops , accusing several police forces of getting it wrong and disproportionately targeting members of black and Asian minorities.

...Read full article

 

16th May
2010
  

Updated: Police Shame...

Police continuing to bully and harass photographers

one aldermanbury squareA photographer who prompted a debate over the abuse of police powers last year when he was apprehended for taking photographs of a London church was subjected today to an almost identical stop and search under anti-terrorist powers while trying to photograph the capital's skyline.

Grant Smith, a renowned architectural photographer, was taking photographs at One Aldermanbury Square, near London Wall, when he was stopped by officers from City of London police.

He said they prevented him from using his camera to film the stop and search, and held his arms behind his back as they searched through his possessions.

It is the second time in six months that Smith has been stopped by City police under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows officers to stop and search anyone without need for suspicion in designated areas.

In a repetition of the earlier stop and search, Smith said he was first approached by a security guard asserting he could not photograph a building. When he asserted his lawful right to continue taking images, police were called.

He said two uniformed officers detained him, one by grabbing his arms behind his back, and refused requests to record the stop and search on his camera. He added that they even refused to let him use a pen and paper to note down their details.

He was told he was being held under section 44 because of his obstructive and non-compliant attitude , and said police left him feeling humiliated after manhandling him in front of office workers.

When the search was over, he asked the officers if he could continue taking photographs. There was an interesting display of petulance, he said. They just turned their back on me and walked away.

Update: Stasi Centre of Britain

16th May 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

StasiMore than 5,000 security guards in London's financial district have been instructed by police to report people taking photographs, recording footage or even making sketches near buildings, the Guardian has learned.

City of London police's previously unseen advice singles out people who may appear to be legitimate tourists to supposedly prevent reconnaissance by al-Qaida.

The document, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, helps explain a number of recent cases in which photographers have been stopped and searched by police using section 44 of the Terrorism Act, after first being approached by security guards.

The police advice to security guards states: In this period of heightened alert, we must report possible reconnaissance to the police and develop a culture of challenging suspicious behaviour.

One category of suspicious behaviour is described as: People using recording equipment, including camera phones, or seen making notes or sketches for no apparent reason . One line in the document, marked in bold, states: The person you think is a legitimate tourist may be somebody else!

The advice is part of Project Griffin, a police initiative to ensure private security personnel function as their eyes and ears to combat crime and terrorism. Most police forces and several ports across the UK have co-opted the scheme.

 

7th June
2010
  

Update: Beach Bullies...

Beach photographers hassled by wardens who make up the law to suit themselves

no photoA beach warden – who would only identify himself as Beach 8 – challenged a photographer as she took snaps on the promenade at Bournemouth.

He demanded to see a licence and told her she shouldn't be taking pictures without one. After years of taking photos on the beaches unchallenged, snapper Hattie Miles ploughed on regardless.

Stuart Terry, coastal works manager at Poole council, claimed that the beach was council land and it was standard industry practice to seek permission before taking pictures.

Amateur Photographer magazine - who have been among the most vocal opponents of the stopping and searching of photographers taking pictures of landmarks - have investigated further and found that the council's regulations are in place to prevent large-scale film crews, rather than individual people.

 

29th June
2010
  

Update: Police Officer Snapped...

Police apologise over human rights abuse of photographer

no photoOnce again, the Metropolitan police have been forced to apologise and accept liability for the actions of one of their officers. It's an embarrassing climbdown for the force, which could have very positive implications for press freedom in the UK, especially for journalists whose work is to cover political protest and dissent.

In December 2008, political journalists Marc Vallée and Jason Parkinson were deliberately obstructed from their work documenting protests outside the Greek embassy in London, which had erupted following the shooting of a teenage demonstrator by police in Athens. An armed officer from the Met's diplomatic protection group violently prevented the pair from filming or using still cameras to record events taking place around them, and a short while later two territorial support group officers forcibly removed Vallée and Parkinson from the scene altogether.

The Met agreed that the actions of that armed officer had been unlawful and in clear breach of article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which deals with freedom of expression. As the article states, all citizens have the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority . In an apology of unprecedented frankness, the police not only admitted liability, but went on to comment too on the wider implications of their actions. They stated:

The MPS [Metropolitan police service] confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS recognise that on 8 December 2008 they failed to respect press freedom in respect of Mr Vallée and Mr Parkinson.

 

10th July
2010
  

Update: Trains Packed with Officious Ticket Inspectors...

South West Trains gets nasty about photography

south west trains logoA UK rail passenger who took photographs of an overcrowded train carriage was threatened with arrest under anti-terror laws.

Nigel Roberts was so appalled by the cramped conditions commuters have to endure he warned a ticket inspector that dangerous overcrowding could cost lives.

But when he showed his mobile phone photos of luggage-crammed aisles and exits he was told it is illegal to take such pictures and threatened with prosecution.

The inspector then demanded Roberts' personal details as Roberts explained: When I told him I had taken some photos he said it was illegal under the Terrorism Act and that I could be arrested and demanded my name and address.

He said there were police officers on the train and I may be arrested for taking the photographs. He said he had powers given to him under the Railways Act to ask me for the information and it was an even more serious offence for me not to comply.

I felt as if I was in a police state. He explained that for some reason it was for my own protection but my argument was that every passenger on the train would have needed protection in the event of an emergency.

He told me he would make a note of our conversation so that they could be used in the event of a prosecution. He was pleasant enough but it was a frightening and chilling experience for me.

A spokeswoman for South West Trains - owned by the Stagecoach group - said: Staff are aware they need to be particularly attentive to unusual photos being taken or suspicious behaviour and to challenge this if necessary. However this was clearly not an issue in this case and we will ensure our staff are re-briefed to avoid any misunderstanding in the future. We are sorry for any upset and anxiety caused to Mr Roberts.

 

17th July
2010
  

Update: May We Take Photos?...

Theresa May utters fine words about an end to the police harassment of photographers

theresa may good sideTheresa May's made a speech in the House of Commons in a discussion of the absurd treatment of photographers under current anti-terror laws. Prompted by the excellent Tracey Crouch,  May gave the following assurance:

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con): Under the previous Government, a photographer from Medway was arrested in Chatham high street under section 44 stop-and-search powers, and he and fellow photographers from Medway will welcome today's announcement from the Home Secretary. Will she assure the House that any future revision of anti-terror legislation will strike the right balance between protecting the public and safeguarding the rights of individuals?

Theresa May: I am happy to give that assurance to my hon. Friend. She may have noticed that in my statement I specifically said that we would look at the issue of photographers and stop-and-search powers. It is one issue that has been brought home forcibly to me. I have had constituency cases of people who have been stopped under those powers and been concerned about it, and I have received a number of representations from Members of this House, and indeed of another place, about those problems.

 

20th January
2011
  

Update: Happy Shoppers...

Photographers still being harassed

amateur photographer logoPolice insist they had every right to stop an innocent 78-year-old who was taking photographs in Norwich city centre but have refused to say why his actions were deemed suspicious .

A security guard had approached retired university professor Howard Temperley after he was seen taking pictures of people doing Christmas shopping. Howard, who was using a compact camera, told the Norwich Evening News: No sooner had I begun taking pictures than a security man was at my elbow asking me what I was doing. I said I was taking pictures of happy shoppers.

Howard planned to turn his photos into computer-generated sketches for Christmas cards.

After leaving the shopping centre police stopped him in nearby St Stephen's Street. Officers reportedly allowed Howard to continue on his way - but only after recording his name, address and date of birth and checking his details with the force's headquarters.

Chapelfield Shopping Centre managers defended the move, saying that the building and its immediate surroundings were private property. In a statement, the centre's marketing manager Sheridan Smith told AP: Our security team will always challenge members of the public taking photographs in and around the centre, especially if the photographer is photographing the building itself or groups of shoppers who are obviously not friends or family of the photographer.

 

29th January
2011
  

Update: Photographers Not Yet Convinced...

Stop and Search and Hassle limited to areas where a terrorist attack is actually suspected

Home Offie logoThe government announced proposals this week to replace Section 44 stop and search powers with a more tightly defined power .

The proposals are the result of a review of counter-terrorism legislation following a European Court of Human Rights' ruling last year that Section 44 powers were illegal.

The proposals recommend replacing Section 44 with a new power that would allow a senior police officer to make an authorisation for stop and search powers where they have reason to suspect a terrorist attack will take place and searches are necessary to prevent it .

They also recommend that the maximum period of an authorisation should be reduced from 28 days to 14 and that authorisations can cover a geographical area as wide as necessary to address the threat.

The Home Office claims that the new measures will prevent the misuse of these powers against photographers, but photography trade publications and photojournalists say they are unsure.

Olivier Laurent, news and online editor of the British Journal of Photography said that the review's recommendations fall short of our expectations. Recent cases, as reported by Amateur Photographer and BJP, have shown that there is still a belief among police forces and security personnel that photographing in a public place is a suspicious act. We look forward for the new legislation and guidance and call on all photographic organisations to help raise awareness, among police forces and the photographic community, of photographers' rights.

 

14th October
2011
  

Updated: Boycott Braehead...

Braehead shopping centre does its bit to add to the oppressive atmosphere in Britain

boycott braehead Braehead shopping centre has been shamed into reversing its ban on photography after an internet campaign.

It follows an oppressive incident at Glasgow's Braehead shopping centre when security guards challenged a man who had taken a photo of his young daughter.

Chris White was bullied by security guards and then questioned by police after taking a photo of four-year-old Hazel eating an ice cream on Friday.

White said that, when he was interviewed by police, an officer warned him that anti-terrorism powers meant his camera phone could be confiscated.

In response Chris White set up a Facebook page called Boycott Braehead which, by Monday evening, had been liked by about 20,000 people. In a message posted tonight on the Facebook page, White said he would continue to press for other shopping centres to change their policies. He wrote:

Hopefully we can now move forward with a common sense approach into a situation that allows families to enjoy precious moments with their children, but at the same time ensure that such public places are areas where we can feel safe and protected.

I have been overwhelmed by the public response on this issue and thank everyone for their support.

Capital Shopping Centres said the new rules would apply immediately to its 11 UK shopping centres. These include the Trafford Centre, near Manchester, Lakeside, in Essex, the Metrocentre, in Gateshead, and the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. It said the policy was also likely to be adopted at three other centres in which it is a partner.

Staff will no longer try to prevent family and friends taking pictures of each other, although security guards might still challenge anyone acting suspiciously.

Capital Shopping Centres, which also owns malls in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Nottingham, said: CSC can confirm that we will be changing the photography policy at our 11 directly owned centres and that at the other three centres, which we own in partnership with other companies, we will be discussing with our partners the policy change and recommending that it be adopted.

Update: Police dispute White's account BUT won't tell us their side of the story

14th October 2011.  See  press release from  strathclyde.police.uk
See also Are police attempting to smear The Braehead One, ask his supporters from  scotsman.com

Rob Shorthouse, Director of Communications for Strathclyde Police said:

It is absolutely right and proper that when a complaint about the police is made that it is fully investigated. The public need to know that their complaints are taken seriously and are acted upon promptly and professionally. This is exactly what has happened in this incident.

Mr White complained to the police about the incident in Braehead. In his statement he set out a set of circumstances that has caused widespread debate, comment and criticism for those who he alleged were involved. Mr White chose to make his complaint public, to give interviews to the media and to seek debate on social networks.

We are well aware that, as a result of this social media conversation, demonstrations are being planned this weekend at Braehead. We have also seen global media coverage of the incident -- all of which has painted the shopping centre, this police force and, arguably, our country in a very negative light.

It is because Mr White chose to seek publicity for his account of events and because of the planned demonstration that we feel compelled to take the unusual step of making our findings public.

In reaching our conclusions, officers took statements from a number of independent witnesses and viewed the substantial amount of CCTV that was available in the centre.

On reviewing all of this objective evidence, I have to tell you that we can find no basis to support the complaint which Mr. White has elected to make.

The members of the public who asked for the security staff to become involved have told us that they did so for reasons which had absolutely nothing to do with him taking photographs of his daughter. They had a very specific concern, which I am not in a position to discuss publicly, that they felt the need to report. It was because of this very specific concern that security staff became involved. They were right to raise their concern and we are glad that they did so.

The security staff were the ones who asked for police involvement. Again, this was not because Mr White said he had been photographing his daughter, but was due to the concerns that they themselves had regarding this particular incident.

When our officers became involved they did not confiscate any items, nor was Mr White questioned under counter terrorist legislation. It is wrong to suggest that the police spoke to Mr White because he claimed he had been photographing his daughter, or that officers made any reference to counter terror legislation. Mr. White knows, or ought to know, why our officers spoke with him.

Since Mr White chose to publish his version of events on Facebook, we have seen substantial traditional media and social media activity around the story. People have been very quick to offer their opinions on this issue and were very keen to accept Mr White's story as the only evidence that was available. Clearly this was not the case.

Social media allowed this story to spread quickly around the world. I hope that the same media allows this part of the tale to move just as quickly.

For the avoidance of any doubt, we have fully investigated this incident and we can say that none of the independent and objective evidence presented to us by either the members of the public or the CCTV backs up the claims made by Mr White.

Comment: Miserable Britain

Perhaps indeed there may indeed be question marks over this case.

But I think the police have missed the point, if they think the widespread sympathy with White's campaign is just down to this one incident, then they are clearly wrong.

Public protest has kicked off because of a long history of police and security staff taking it on themselves to ban public photography for trivial reasons taken out of all perspective. Not to mention the general officious and repressive climate in Britain, where jumped up officials take it on themselves to try and micro manage people's day to day behaviour to match some politically correct dystopia.

If the authorities are worried by public responses such as this, perhaps they should look to the wider issues of the authoritarian political correctness that is making Britain truely miserable.

 

24th April
2012
  

Updated: Making a Bad Image of the London Olympics...

O2 Arena security set to harass photographers anywhere near the venue

o2 arena Media and civil liberties groups have expressed alarm after the managers of an Olympic venue pledged to intercept and question anyone seen photographing or filming the site, even from public land, and defended security guards who wrongly tried to invoke terrorist laws to prevent footage being shot of the arena.

The stance taken by the O2 in Greenwich highlights wider concerns that Olympic security operations could see photographers, film crews and even members of the public harassed for entirely legal activities.

John Toner from the National Union of Journalists said he would seek an urgent meeting with managers of the O2, saying their tactics had no basis in law: I'm stunned, and what they say is utterly outrageous.

While there are strict photography rules inside Olympic venues and on many other private spaces, when standing on public land the press and public have a clear right to shoot still or moving images.

As an experiment, the Guardian attempted to shoot video footage of the O2 arena from a public road on its southern edge, only a few minutes' walk from the main entrance.

Very quickly the reporter was challenged by O2 security guards, who made a series of demands with no basis in law. They ordered that the filming stop -- We've requested you to not do it because we don't like it -- and that they be shown any existing footage. Asked on what basis they could demand this, one replied: It's under the terrorist law. We are an Olympic venue. Another added: You have, for want of a better word, breached our security by videoing it [the O2].

At one point they refused to allow the reporter to leave. One said: It's gone too far for that. Guards are entitled to challenge suspicious behaviour and call the police. However, they have no additional legal powers on public land. While such overreach is not uncommon it is often followed by a management apology.

An O2 spokesman defended the guards' approach. He said: On the basis that [the reporter was] filming areas of the O2 that are not usually of interest to the public, our security staff's approach and handling of the situation was entirely appropriate.

The civil rights campaign group Liberty said it was alarmed. Its legal officer Corinna Ferguson, said: There's no power stopping a person taking photographs on public land, let alone to arrest them or seize property, without reasonable suspicion they've committed an offence. Police officers or security guards who get this wrong could well find themselves in trouble with the law.

Offsite: And from the Independent

Surely the security guards are not acting off their own initiative. Sounds like bollox and that they are doing what they have been told to do.

24th April 2012. See  article from  independent.co.uk

The Independent Poorly trained and overzealous security guards are abusing the law by clamping down on public photography in the run-up to this summer's Olympics.

Amateur and professional photographers say they are being routinely harangued by aggressive guards near Olympic venues, who use the upcoming Games as an excuse to restrict public photography despite having no basis in law to do so.

G4S, the private security company which is recruiting at least 10,000 extra staff for the Games, was forced to apologise yesterday after staff stopped a group of professional photographers taking pictures of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London.

The five photographers were standing on public property outside the Olympic Stadium on Saturday but were forcibly prevented from taking photos by guards who claimed it was forbidden from where they were standing. Only a week earlier, senior police officials had assured photographers that private security guards have no extra powers to clamp down on photography.

...Read the full article

 

30th April
2012

 Offsite Article: Photographers harassed at stations...

While terrorists can work from home. By Cleland Thom. Thanks to Nick.

See article from blogs.pressgazette.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Police still harassing photographers, this time at a Brighton shopping centre...


Link Here 4th July 2015  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state
place-churchill-square For all the thousands of photographers that have been harassed by the authorities, I wonder if this has ever led to a terrorist being discovered.

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 


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