March 2008


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

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NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, has today (28/03) staged a one-man protest outside the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police to highlight the failure of law enforcement officers to protect media freedoms.

The event, attended by dozens of press photographers, was in response to numerous complaints about how the police deal with the media, particularly at public events and demonstrations. Photographer members of the union are frustrated because they are regularly obstructed from doing their jobs by police officers who don’t understand the law around media freedom. Jeremy hoped that his one-man demo would help senior police officers spot the difference between a protester and photographers covering the protest.
Photographers’ case taken to Scotland Yard

Last year a set of guidelines on dealing with the media was agreed between the NUJ and the Association of Chief Police Officers, an extension of guidelines already agreed with the Metropolitan Police. However, cases have continued to surface of police officers taking action that is not within their legal powers. Most cases involve officers obstructing photographers from taking photos and the confiscation or deletion of pictures once they have been taken.

There are also examples of journalists being arrested, or threatened with arrest, because they have refused to stop taking photos and in other cases photographers have had their equipment seized. Many NUJ members have reported being physically and mentally intimidated by the police and some cases have included actual physical violence.

Photographers regularly criticise the police for their handling of the media at major events, particularly public demonstrations where officers often fail to draw a sufficient distinction between protestors and members of the press who are reporting on the event.

To mark the protest, Jeremy Dear has sent a letter to New Scotland Yard highlighting the union’s concerns. A letter from the NUJ Parliamentary Group to the Home Secretary has also been dispatched to the Home Office to raise the issue at the highest levels.

Speaking in advance of the protest, Jeremy Dear said: “It’s a shame that we have to hold a stunt like this to help the police spot the difference between a protestor and a press photographer. It really isn’t that difficult.

“What’s really frustrating is that guidelines are already in place which should deal with the problems we experience. We’re not even campaigning for a change to the rules. All we want is for the policy that currently exists to be properly enforced.

“Although the one-man protest is intended to be a little light-hearted, this is a really serious issue. Police officers are preventing photographers from reporting on important events with action that is at times bordering on harassment. In an open and democratic society it’s vital that photographers and members of the media are free to report on what is going on in the world. Police officers need to understand their responsibilities when it comes to respecting media freedom.”

http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=760
also ……..
Photographers by the Yard  http://re-photo.co.uk/?p=250 Peter Marshall blog.

NUJ General Secretary,  Jeremy Dear, will tomorrow (28/03) stage a one-man protest outside the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police to highlight the failure of law enforcement officers to protect media freedoms.

The union is frustrated that a large number of its photographer members continue to be regularly obstructed from doing their jobs by police officers who don’t understand the law around media freedom. The one-man protest will aim to help senior police officers spot the difference between a protester and photographers covering the protest.

Last year a set of guidelines on dealing with the media was agreed between the NUJ and the Association of Chief Police Officers, an extension of guidelines already agreed with the Metropolitan Police. However, cases have continued to surface of police officers taking action that is not within their legal powers. Most cases involve officers obstructing photographers from taking photos and the confiscation or deletion of pictures once they have been taken.

There are also examples of journalists being arrested, or threatened with arrest, because they have refused to stop taking photos and in other cases photographers have had their equipment seized. Many NUJ members have reported being physically and mentally intimidated by the police and some cases have included actual physical violence.

Photographers regularly criticise the police for their handling of the media at major events, particularly public demonstrations where officers often fail to draw a sufficient distinction between protestors and members of the press who are reporting on the event.

Jeremy Dear will deliver a letter to New Scotland Yard highlighting the union’s concerns and will stage his protest to help demonstrate the differences between a protestor and press photographers. A letter from the NUJ Parliamentary Group to the Home Secretary will also be delivered to the Home Office tomorrow to raise the issue at the highest levels.

Speaking in advance of the protest, Jeremy Dear said: “It’s a shame that we have to hold a stunt like this to help the police spot the difference between a protestor and a press photographer. It really isn’t that difficult.

“What’s really frustrating is that guidelines are already in place which should deal with the problems we experience. We’re not even campaigning for a change to the rules. All we want is for the policy that currently exists to be properly enforced.

“Although the one-man protest is intended to be a little light-hearted, this is a really serious issue. Police officers are preventing photographers from reporting on important events with action that is at times bordering on harassment. In an open and democratic society it’s vital that photographers and members of the media are free to report on what is going on in the world. Police officers need to understand their responsibilities when it comes to respecting media freedom.”

http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=760

With the recent distress and trouble about the end of the ASBO squat in Burns Street, Radford, Nottingham …… [I have been covering events there for the last few years]

http://indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/03/392793.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/03/392994.html

By contrast, if you want to see what the under-informed think of squatting as an activity, please check out:

Police Community Support Officer Blog : Squatting page at:
http://policecommunitysupportofficer.blogspot.com/2007/11/squatters.html

However, for those of us that thought that squatting should be thought of as an activity of those engaged in social concerns, please check out the ‘London Squatter’s’ Comment at: http://tinyurl.com/2wq8kn

because it helps provide the antidote to this PCSO’s viperous attack.

Levellers & Diggers 350 year Anniversary at St.George’s Hill.

 Please check out my speech at this event on YouTube

My speech there, describing the fact that current protest and festival events like the free festivals, Stonehenge Gathering etc ….. are directly draw from the Levellers land squats of the 17th century. The people organising amungst themselves after the civil war.

With the Criminal Justice Act and the other shed-load of legislation recently, these things are still, more than ever, worth standing up for.

For some background and history, on what I’m on about here, check out my pages starting at: http://tash.gn.apc.org/leveller.htm

and all about the day to remember these communities and what they stood for.

The Diggers 350 yr anniversary:  http://tash.gn.apc.org/diggers_350.htm

also…..

since I’m reminded, I made this ‘slide-show’ video of some of my photography from the event that day.

A friend found this, a film maker gets some grief on the streets of London. I meet this stort of thing, every single bloody day!!!!

The video covers your rights to take photos in public place. Includes interview with John Toner of the NUJ.

from current.com at: http://current.com/items/88856223_you_can_t_picture_this

A photographer from a Birmingham-based photographic agency has raised a complaint with West Midlands Police following an incident in which he says a police officer forced him to delete images from his memory card.

Lawrence Looi, 31, who has been a staff photographer with news agency News Team for the last three years, had been sent to cover a protest on public roads outside the International Conference Centre on Thursday morning when he was approached by a police constable who objected to having been photographed.According to the written complaint, a copy of which has been seen by EPUK, the officer held Looi by the upper arm and asked him to delete any photographs that had been taken of police officers. The officer also asked Looi to identify himself, but refused an offer to see Looi’s NPA-issued National Press Card.“I remained calm and polite at all times and add that, at no point did I become aggressive”, writes Looi in the complaint. “I politely requested for his name and details, explaining my wish to lodge this complaint. I was then released and allowed to carry on with my work.”

Looi says he was then approached by a police sergeant who asked to view the photographs taken. Looi agreed to this, but refused a request from the sergeant for any photographs which showed identifiable police officers to be deleted.

When Looi refused, the complaint says: “[the police sergeant] then threatened to take my camera from me to delete the photographs, to quote…‘Do it or I’ll do it myself’. He then grabbed hold of my camera with the intention of doing so”

According to the complaint, the two police officers had said that images could compromise the safety of any officers pictured who may later undertake undercover operations.

Clear breach of ACPO guidelines

Looi says it was at this point that he agreed to delete the images. “I didn’t want the hassle of him trying to intimidate me and waste my time by detaining me”, he told EPUK. “In hindsight, I should have probably have let them arrest me.” Looi was unable to later recover the images using specialist recovery software.

In his letter to West Midlands Chief Constable Sir Paul Scott-Lee, Looi writes: “I believe that I was unlawfully physically detained …against my will and the direction to delete the photographs had no legal backing. I only complied to save further detention and aggravation and because I had other urgent work to complete.”

The incident is a clear breach of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) national police-press guidelines which state: “Members of the media have a duty to take photographs and film incidents and [police officers] have no legal power or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict what they record.”

“It is a matter for their editors to control what is published or broadcast, not the police. Once images are recorded, [the police] have no power to delete or confiscate them without a court order, even if [the police] think they contain damaging or useful evidence.”

The guidelines also warn that any police officer who deletes a photographer’s images could face criminal, civil or disciplinary action.

Long list of controversial incidents

The case is the latest in a series of controversial incidents between police officers and photographers, and comes just a week after the Metropolitan Police agreed an out-of-court settlement with injured protest photographer Marc Vallee.

Under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, journalistic materials such as a camera memory card are classified as “special procedure materials”, and are subject to certain safeguards under law. However, solicitor Mike Schwartz of Bindman and Partners has previously warned that police are using their powers of arrest to gain access to these materials.

Speaking at the 2007 NUJ Photographers’ Conference, he said:“The police are arresting journalists, seizing their equipment, treating them as suspects, looking at their photographs, taking copies, perhaps returning them to them, taking no further action often (but not always) and they’ve got, straight away, what they want.”

West Midlands Police were unavailable for comment on the incident.


One of a series of controversial incidents

Looi’s incident joins a long list of controversial incidents where police have been accused of misusing their powers to try to control press photographers:

March 2006: A joint two-year effort between the British Press photographers Association (BPPA), the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIJ) results in the first police-press guidelines being agreed with London’s Metropolitan Police.

March 2006: While photographing an armed incident in Nottingham, photographer Alan Lodge is arrested firstly for assault, then de-arrested, before being arrested and de-arrested for breach of the peace, and finally being arrested and later charged with obstruction. Lodge, who helped draft the guidelines used by the police for dealing with the press, was later found guilty .

August 2006: During a terror alert, police at Heathrow Airport forced two staff press photographers to delete images from their camera memory cards. All photographers arriving at the airport were banned from taking pictures of the incident.

September 2006: Milton Keynes News staff photographer Andy Handley is arrested for obstruction after refusing to hand over his equipment after photographing a traffic accident. Police later apologise, and describe his arrest as “a serious misjudgement”.

October 2006: Photographer Marc McMahon is arrested for breaching the peace while photographing an incident on Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge where a man was threatening to commit suicide. Despite showing his press card, police unlawfully told McMahon he could not take photographs, and when he continued to do so, he was arrested. McMahon’s camera bag containing £10,000 of camera equipment was later stolen after being left at the scene by police officers. A court found McMahon not guilty of obstructing a police officer, and said that he had acted “professionally”. McMahon later sued the police for the loss of his equipment.

October 2006: Photojournalist Marc Vallée is hospitalised and left unable to work for a month with injuries sustained following police action at a demonstration in Parliament Square. The Metropolitan Police later agree an out-of-court settlement with Vallée, but do not accept liability.

November 2006: After being photographed, off-duty SO14 officer Paul Page pursues Sun freelance photographer Scott Hornby, ramming his car to a standstill then forcing him out of the car at gunpoint. Page is later found not guilty of dangerous driving, possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear, and false imprisonment after telling a jury that he thought the photographer was a hitman.

April 2007: The police-press guidelines used by the Metropolitan Police are adopted by all other police forces in Britain.

September 2007: Freelance photographer Mike Wells is stopped and searched three times and had his phone taken while covering the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition in London. Despite showing his press card, officers told Wells that he was being searched on the grounds that he was a person likely to cause criminal damage such as graffiti.

November 2007: Amateur photographer Phil Smith was stopped from photographing the Christmas lights being switched on by police at a public event in Ipswich, and asked whether he had a “licence to use the camera”. A police spokesperson later said that officers had been “overzealous in the execution of their duty”

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