Statement

Time / Date: 8:00pm  Saturday 18th July 2009

Location: ‘’Psytrance dance tent’ TreeFest Event.  Newstead, Nottinghamshire

Situation:

I am a freelance photographer with an interest in a wide range of social issues, news and events. In this capacity, and with the agreement of the event organisers, I had attended this festival / event with the objective of recording a body of work, to describe it.

I had initially arrived at about 1.00pm.  At about 8.00pm I am passing one of the ‘dance tents’ a large white marquee located off a path alongside the festival field. Inside the tent, I see a couple of people behind the DJ desk being searched by a police officer. PC1090 I then took an initial couple of pictures from about at least 12-15 feet away, of this search taking place.  As ever, I am careful about keeping what I consider to be a ‘respectful distance’, thus to give no cause to have my actions considered to be an obstruction.

I was about to take another, when I was approached by another officer WPC285. She told me to stop taking pictures and that I should leave. I stated that I was being of good order, that I was a press photographer and that I wished to continue to record the scene. I then showed my press card which was instantly dismissed.  I pointed out that I was taking photographs from a distance. She then became quite agitated and continued to advance on me shouting at me to stop and that I was obstructing them. I reiterated that I was not, and further, did not wish to do so.  About this time she pushed me in the chest backward.  I asked her not to do that, and said she should not assault me. The other officer also added from time to time that I was obstructing them, and also, I believe, he would have seen this action.  Aside from my interest in the original scene, I have continued to take photographs, now of the officers concerned and their actions, since I thought that they might be of use evidentially.

I produced a copy of the “Nottinghamshire Police – Guidelines for police and media at incidents”. Again, there is no interest shown in them, and they are pushed back at me. WPC285 then demanded my date of birth. She had then noted my name from the card. I declined saying that as I hadn’t done anything wrong, and that if I was not under arrest, then I didn’t wish to as I didn’t believe that the officer had any cause.

She left me when it appeared that. PC1090 had finished dealing with the search of the original subjects. They were then conducting a further search on another, outside of the marquee.  I decided not to follow them to this new situation, but instead withdrew.

This initial incident had lasted so 5 – 6 minutes.

Photographs of reference numbers:

090718_D70_266.jpg – 090718_D70_286.jpg

derived from 19 of the original photographs, describing the scene. I have secured the originals, directly from the camera, should there be any question about their veracity.

090718_D70_266

090718_D70_268

090718_D70_271

090718_D70_274

090718_D70_275

090718_D70_278

090718_D70_283

Feeling aggrieved by this exchange, I then went to an area behind the main stage at the event. There were a couple of police vehicles stationed there and I thought I might find a senior officer to discuss my concerns. I have a recording function on my mobile telephone and thinking that some better evidence may be required, I record the conversation.

At approx 8.15pm I approached the only officer in attendance there, designated as Neighbourhood Warden from Gedling Borough. I enquired after the presence of a senior officer. Was told that there wasn’t one on site at that time. He told me of the existence of two PC’s on site at the moment, but it soon became apparent that these were the officers I was wishing to discuss. I asked if a sergeant or inspector was due, and he said they would be attending latter. I pointed out that it was my object, to discuss the issue in person, in the first instance, rather than telephone or make it ‘official’. I was also thinking that I might end up in a similar situation again at the event, and rather than take it up at a latter date, I really did want the issue straightened out while I was still there.

It was unfortunate that during this conversation that the officers concerned then returned. The initial words from WPC285 at some volume were “Oh, he’s here again, your obstructing us, move away from our vehicles”. The other officer in support then continued, again at some volume to maintain that I was, and still am, obstructing them. I made it clear I was very unhappy with their behaviour. I had come to this area to complain, and I am now being told to move away.

On saying that if I couldn’t get satisfaction here and now, that I would be putting it in writing later then. They identified themselves at WPC285 & PC1090 from Ravenshead police station and their senior was Inspector Nolan. When asked if he was coming here later the response was “you’ve got to be kidding’ haven’t you?”. I said my only option then was to put it all in writing. WPC285 then demanded my details. If I was under arrest, then I would provide details. But, I declined saying that I’d done nothing wrong. There was then some discussion about the seizing of the camera for evidence. Realising that again this situation is covered in the Nottinghamshire Police Guidelines I have attempted to draw the officers attention to the relevant sections. They again have no interest in these so I’ve read some of them aloud so that I thought there could be no ambiguity about their meaning. They continue with the notion that I’ve obstructing them. Because we’ve started to ‘go round again’ I say that If they really believe that, then I should be arrested, but I still maintain that I had not and had done nothing wrong. At about 8.20pm they have then arrested me and I was cautioned. The mobile phone recording the conversation was then forcibly removed from me and stopped. We are next to a police van, and when told, I get in.

After being searched by PC1090, he put my camera and mobile phone into a brown bag. A copy of the guidelines that I had, were now on the table, and I asked for them to be put in the bag also. Being now under arrest, they already had my name, and when asked again, I provided my date of birth. A radio check being made on me, returned the previous offence of obstruction.

My press card was then in dispute saying that I may have forged it! I pointed out that it could easily be verified by the ‘verification hotline’ number on the back. The officer then tried this firstly not being able to get through, and then was told that the service was unavailable. I believe that another officer then rang the Nottingham Evening Post to see if there was another number to try. I chimed in to say that it was only just in the previous week that I’d rang it myself, to make sure that I had remembered my PIN number. It all worked fine then. We agreed that it might be because it was the weekend. After a bit more administration he tried again, getting a different reply this time, asked me for my PIN, and all checked out.

I guess about an hour went by, me sitting patiently in the back of the police van. Not much seemed to be happening for a while, although we had a conversation about the difficulties of both our jobs.

I hadn’t noted the time, but I think about 9.30pm a female sergeant arrived at the scene. PC1090 told me I was being released. My camera and phone being returned. I spoke to the sergeant outlining my concerns on the way I had been treated. I again produced the guidelines and drew attention to the relevant parts. She asked when they were issued, me saying about 3 years ago now. She had never seen them before. I said I wasn’t surprised since I have only met a couple of officers who have in fact ever seen them. Most others, right up to chief inspector rank, had also never seen them. I gave her my copy for information, and she said she would study them. She said she would also contact Margaret Kirk at the Nottinghamshire Police Press Office for further guidance. Also we agreed that they really do need to be better advertised, since without knowledge of their provisions, they are proving to be useless. I gave her my phone number to let me know how she got on. This exchange was cordial. I said I was grateful for her listening to me. I then left the scene.

She phoned me on Monday afternoon, to say that she had contacted the press office, and that had only been able to leave a message. Asking for it to be forwarded to Ms Kirk. She said they may ring me directly.

____________________________________________

ALAN LODGE

Photographer

Member of the National Union of Journalists [No: 014345]

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