29 May, 2008
The most action packed show to date, here we move into June with an hour and a half of stuff that matters and music to tingle the senses. With the warmer weather moving in and the city coming alive again we tell those untold stories and showcast some of the best new acts and artists.
We talk to people about the arrests of 2 activists at Nottingham University under the Terrorism Act and ways to campaign against the upcoming deportation of one of them. We bring you an exclusive report about a recent protest at arms manufacturer Hecker & Koch and an update from NAIL, the ongoing campaign against Nottingham’s waste incinerator. Also we went along to a mass trespass of a proposed open cast coal mine site near Heanor, Derbyshire. We have a chat about the Sumac Centre, and interview Alice who’s been involved with producing a free booklet about social centres in the UK and Ireland. Also updates on this years Climate Camp in August and talk about the upcoming mobilisation against the BNP’s Red, White and Blue Festival in Denby, near Codnor. Music from the Rebel Soul Collective, Freakcullector, Leni Ward, Fists, Verbal Warning and Old Basford.
29 May, 2008
Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, has written to the Home Secretary to protest against police surveillance of journalists and photographers.
Dear’s letter, sent to Jacqui Smith on 22 May, states that journalists and photographers are being monitored and recorded by the Metropolitan Police’s Forward Intelligence Team (FIT), adding that this surveillance amounts to virtual harassment and is a serious threat to the journalists’ right to carry out their work.
‘As you will be aware,’ he writes, ‘the FIT team have a responsibility to provide intelligence to police units in respect of individuals who may be involved in public order issues. “Targets” whose likenesses are retained by the police are given four-figure Photographic Reference Numbers and held on a database.
‘Recently, the FIT team has started surveillance of press card-carrying journalists who cover and report on protests of any kind. For example, at a recent lobby against the SOCPA (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act) restrictions on protests on 01 March, all members of the press present were catalogued by the FIT team. Through Data Protection Act requests we have learned that details of bona fide journalists are held on this database with photographic reference numbers.’
Later in the same letter he adds: ‘Despite repeated requests there has been no legitimate reason given why police photographers should be photographically cataloguing journalists going about their lawful business.’ He then asks Smith to provide more information about the FIT and the guidance it is given.
Dear has written to the Home Secretary because ongoing concerns he has raised directly with the police have not been resolved, he told BJP. ‘Despite the guidelines drawn up,’ he said, ‘photographers continue to face intimidation.’
He added: ‘The government must stamp out the routine and deliberate targeting of photographers and other journalists by the Forward Intelligence Team. Such actions undermine media freedom and can serve to intimidate photographers trying to carry out their lawful work. These abuses are the latest in an increasingly long list of infringements of media freedom at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. The rights of photographers to work free from threat, harassment and intimidation must be upheld.’
Photojournalist and NUJ member Marc Vallee, who was hospitalised after covering the unlawful ‘Sack Parliament’ protest in London on 09 October 2006, added: ‘Press freedom is a central tenet of our democracy and it is extremely unpleasant to have Metropolitan Police FIT officers take notes, film and photograph you when working. It begs the questions what legal, moral and political power such repressive actions are based on. The Home Secretary needs to swiftly confirm that the police have no legal power to prevent or restrict working photographers in this way.’
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that it has ‘used the tactic of Forward Intelligence Teams in their current format for at least 10 years, including covert photographers’.
In a statement to BJP, commander Bob Broadhurst, in charge of Public Order policing at the Metropolitan Police said: ‘I have personally met with various representatives from bodies who represent the interests of photographers and have sought to protect their rights to do their job through educating colleagues within the Met. Before every operation all our staff are briefed as to the rights and role of the media and wherever operationally possible to facilitate them.
‘Metropolitan Police FIT officers do not target legitimate photographers. FIT officers are deployed in an intelligence and evidence gathering capacity at public order events. This may include interaction with photographers, who on the production of a valid form of accreditation will be able to continue with their work.’
Date: 28 May 2008
“Street Journalists Under Surveillance”
“police surveillance of journalists – jeremy dear sends jacqui smith a letter.”
Home Secretary told ‘end police surveillance of journalists’
Jeremy has now written to the Home Secretery on the matter: Here is a copy of his letter:
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
22 May 2008
I am writing to highlight our growing concerns regarding routine police surveillance of journalists.
In particular we have serious concerns about the activities of the Metropolitan Police’s Forward Intelligence Team (FIT Team) in monitoring and recording the activities of bona fide journalists, especially photographers. A number of members have alleged that the police’s surveillance action amounts to virtual harassment and is a serious threat to their right to carry out their lawful employment.
As you will be aware the FIT team have a responsibility to provide intelligence to police units in respect of individuals who may be involved in public order issues. “Targets” whose likenesses are retained by the police are given four-figure Photographic Reference Numbers and held on a database.
Recently, the FIT team has started surveillance of Press-Card-carrying journalists who cover and report on protests of any kind. For example, at a recent lobby against the SOCPA restrictions on protests on 1 March – all members of the press present were catalogued by the FIT team.
Through Data Protection Act requests we have learned that details of bona fide journalists are held on this database with photographic reference numbers.
I have met with a number of those journalists, mainly photographers who have been the victims of this intimidatory policing. For instance, members of the FIT team who know individual journalists by name still follow them and film them all the time they are working. The journalists have provided their Press Cards to FIT team members, have asked why they are under surveillance and have reminded police officers of their lawful right to carry out their work. Despite this the surveillance continues.
Despite repeated requests there has been no legitimate reason given why police photographers should be photographically cataloguing journalists going about their lawful business.
I would welcome from you information in respect of the guidance given to the FIT team.
· Are the FIT team issued with instructions to photograph and catalogue journalists? Can you provide guidelines issued to FIT Team members about their duties/role?
· For what purpose is information gained by the FIT team held on journalists by the police?
· Who has access to information being held on police databases about journalists?
The routine and deliberate targeting of photographers and other journalists by the Forward Intelligence Team undermines media freedom and can serve to intimidate photographers trying to carry out their lawful work. The rights of photographers to work free from threat, harassment and intimidation must be upheld.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and/or relevant officials to provide further evidence of this activity, including photographic evidence and to seek assurances that the government will do all it can to ensure professional journalists are able to carry out their lawful work.
8 May, 2008
After yet another encounter with police surveillance operations and the FIT team at the Heckler & Koch weapons manufacturers HQ. I had taken more photos of them and made another Indymedia posting about it all. As usual, the comments present us with more heat then light.
FIT are beyond the evidence gathering we have all come to know. There is an intimidatory component to their activities. Protestors, Football Fans, Animal Rights activists, Travellers and Festival attendees have know this for years. The NUJ and journalist are the latest group to be added to be targeted by these folks. These links give you some of this progress:
NUJ Freelance Apr08 FIT snappers snap snappers
Jeremy Dear, Gen Sec NUJ – FIT for purpose
BBC NEWS UK Police ‘spying’ powers challenged
British Journal of Photography – Excuse me, officer …
police surveillance of journalists marc vallée blog
New Statesman: Is this what a police state looks like?
Current TV [Google Channel] You Can’t Picture This, Oh yes you can!
Police in court over pictures at arms protest Politics The Observer
If it is accepted that police are supposed to investigate and prevent crime ….. then the filming of lawful activity by police, might be considered oppressive. [the point!] and perhaps illegal.
However, this example from the US, and the way the law worked for them, should give some heart to how the UK citizens, might try and establish similar principles. Please check out the main link and watch the video interview about the judgement outlawing ‘blanket’ police surveillance.
Democracy Now: NYPD Spy Tactics Exposed [February 19, 2007]
[Video Interview on the issue]
Local Surveillance examples: [so much more, this is just a sample]
Nottingham Surveillance at Demo at Heckler & Koch weapons manufacturers HQ
Fossil Fools Blockade E.On Offices Surveillance and Specialist Equipment
Prime Minister visits Nottingham University :: Surveillance Operations
Surveillance of Nottingham city centre
7 May, 2008
Excuse me, officer …
British Journal of Photography
Date: 7 May 2008
Momentum is growing as photographers fight back against increasing restrictions on shooting images in public places.
More than 190 MPs have now signed up to an Early Day Motion introduced in the House of Commons by Austin Mitchell, urging the ‘Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to agree on a photography code for the information of officers on the ground, setting out the public’s right to photograph public places, thus allowing photographers to enjoy their hobby without officious interference or unjustified suspicion’.
The motion was introduced after the Metropolitan Police launched an advertising campaign calling for citizens to report any ‘odd-looking’ person taking pictures – to the disgust of both amateur and professional photographers, who say they are increasingly demonised.
Press photographers, in particular, say they are being prevented from carrying out their work by overly-officious police and security personnel, pointing to a number of recent cases which have led to sometime violent confrontation.
To address the issue, the British Press Photographers’ Association is joining forces with the National Union of Journalists and the National Association of Press Agencies to try to resolve the issue with the police. Guidelines already exist, but say the organisations, rank-and-file officers seem to be unaware of their content, or choose to deliberately ignore them.
While the campaign is expected to gather strength, photographers are now waiting on the results of an upcoming meeting between the police and representative associations. This was due to happen last week, but the Met postponed and has yet to reschedule.
A group of freelance photographers, aided by the BPPA, has been meeting with the police regularly to address such issues. Now, to show a united front in the media freedom campaign, the BPPA is starting a new group alongside the NUJ and the NAPA. ‘This group, which has yet to be named, will carry on with these meetings with the police,’ says Jeff Moore of the BPPA. He hopes that the unified front will force the police to brief their officers on guidelines agreed in 2006. ‘We’ve tried to push the police to let us give talks to street officers about these guidelines, but we were never allowed to do it,’ Moore says. ‘It’s been promised, but it never happened.’
Last month, Moore asked individual photographers to make formal complaints each time they are assaulted by the police. However, no proper official complaint has been filed with the police yet, he tells BJP this week. ‘We will wait for the outcome before doing so.’
Meanwhile, several spoofs of the Met’s ad campaign have appeared, including one that calls on photographers to report any ‘odd-looking’ police officers. Backed by the BPPA, EPUK and the NUJ, it reads: ‘Thousands of coppers stop photographers every day. What if one of them seems odd? Police twists the laws to help prevent protest, stopping people and threatening arrest under vague, all-encompassing terrorism laws. If you see a copper behaving oppressively we need to know. Let experienced journalists decide what action to take.’
Other photographers have submitted their own versions of the ad on the photo-sharing site Flickr. To view them, visit http://www.flickr.com/groups/met_poster .