Officer Doesn’t Like Photograph of Misdeed

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Photo by Terence Eden

We’ve heard how hostile those UK police are to photography, and  blogger Terence Eden found that out firsthand. Eden writes on his blog that he took a photo of a police van parked in a disabled bay – or handicapped space for us Americans – and was approached by an officer who wanted to know what he was doing. The officer explained she was there to respond to a call, which Eden accepted, but then she asked to delete his photo. Eden writes:

I asked her why she wanted the photo to be deleted, she told me that “in the current climate” the police had been asked to stop people from taking photos of sensitive buildings and of the police.

He told her that wasn’t the case. She wanted to take down his information. There was some  more back and forth. They resolved the matter amicably without any photos being deleted.

My guess would be that she didn’t want any proof of her transgression. Legitimate call or not, it still looks bad for the police to be taking a handicapped spot. I don’t know about in England, but here in the US there are loads of other illegal parking spots an officer could park in in a hurry and still not take up a handicap spot. (But that’s just conjecture on my part.)

At any rate, there is one thing I disagree with in Eden’s post: He advises uploading important photos as soon as possible (which may not always be possible in a confrontation, but okay), and he says if you’re asked to delete photos it may be worth it to comply since they can be recovered later.  Actually, deleting photos from your camera when there is no law on the books backing that up is just  foolish. That’s giving in, admitting guilt, relinquishing power and saying you were in the wrong and your private property isn’t yours and you’re fine with being bullied. I don’t recommend that at all.

Read the whole post at Terence Eden’s blog here.

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3 Responses to “Officer Doesn’t Like Photograph of Misdeed”


  1. 1 Terence Eden June 19, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Just a quick follow up – Surrey Police have commented on my blog and acknowledged that it was wrong for the officer to ask to delete my photo.
    http://shkspr.mobi/blog/index.php/2009/06/police-camera-action/#comment-215
    While it’s regretable that it happened in the first place, I’m very impressed with their response.

    I agree that one shouldn’t have to delete a photo – but if it’s a choice between being arrested, taken down the police station, ringing my family, potentially getting a criminal record etc – I’d rather hit delete, PhotoRec the card and then use the image.

    But that’s just me 🙂

    T

  2. 2 Surrey Police June 19, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Terrence – thanks for mentioning that we have already responded to you on your blog. You’re obviously tracking the story in the same way that we are! For visitors to Discarded, here is the full response he mentions:

    The officer was responding to an emergency that had been resolved before the conversation, so the van was necessarily parked in a disabled bay. But, as clearly stated, this is not the real issue here. The officer was not justified in asking for the photo to be deleted and it’s right for you to draw attention to this.

    Interacting with private photographers or the media is not something police officers do on a regular basis, which means mistakes are sometimes made. In this case, the officer was quite new to the force and had not come across such a situation before. That said, this is not the first time the issue has been raised and it is something Surrey Police has already started addressing.

    We provide media awareness training to most front-line officers. In the future these sessions will make clearer the wide rights photographers have to record police activity, provided cordons are not crossed. We will also soon be distributing a short booklet of media advice, which includes information on photographers’ rights.

    Thank-you to the photographer for responding politely and explaining your objections logically to the officer. It’s good to note that the situation was resolved using common-sense after discussion with the supervisor.

    Surrey Police

  3. 3 discarted June 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Surrey Police

    You wrote:

    “Interacting with private photographers or the media is not something police officers do on a regular basis, which means mistakes are sometimes made. In this case, the officer was quite new to the force and had not come across such a situation before. That said, this is not the first time the issue has been raised and it is something Surrey Police has already started addressing.”

    Well, based on endless news reports and many personal stories being told on various blogs it’s hard to believe that these types of encounters are not rampant in England.

    More importantly, being “quite new to the force” does not exempt your officer or any officer from not knowing the law. That’s a disgrace.

    A badge does not give police the authority to break the law and get away it, which has been the case for many, many years

    However, now that cameras and recording devices are everywhere, the abuse of police powers is finally be exposed on a daily basis and at last being curtailed.

    Why do police in London and in the US believe they can monitor (videotape, photograph) the public at will, but as soon as the cameras are turned on them there’s a problem.


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