Photography Police Issue Goes to High Court

Photo by danger joel

A woman in England is finally taking on the Met police for their harassment of people who film and photograph them. Gemma Atkinson is pursuing a High Court review (equivalent to our Supreme Court in the US) over the police practice of using the Anti-Terrorism law to basically criminalize all photography.

In March,  Atkinson was filming her boyfriend being detained in a London subway station as part of a drug search when she was approached by a plainclothes officer who told her what she was doing was illegal. (“Do you realise it is an offence under the Terrorism Act to film police officers?” he said.) When she refused to hand over her cell phone – having already slipped it into her shirt pocket – the officer was relentless in trying to get it from her, ultimately calling over two female officers for help. A struggle ensued for the next 25 minutes where she was physically overpowered, handcuffed and threatened with arrest.

Finally, when the officers called the station (presumably to speak with a supervisor who told them they had no cause), they let Atkinson go – no apology, no explanation, nothing. The original officer’s only rationale during the incident was that he didn’t want the video to be all over the internet, i.e., YouTube.

Interestingly, the premise of this case is at odds with the report that police in Manchester have filmed over 900 suspects and their associates, whether they’ve committed a crime or not, all in the interest of building a database for tracking criminals and maybe-someday-future criminals. Police at times have openly followed these suspects down the street with a handheld camera. Suspects are then sent a letter informing them that the footage could appear on YouTube. Oh, the hypocrisies!

Read the article about the Gemma Atkinson incident and an interview with Gemma  at The Guardian site.

Read the BBC report about the Manchester Police here.

Thanks to pixel.eight.

1 Response to “Photography Police Issue Goes to High Court”

  1. 1 Fadzly July 31, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I truly respect her guts and will power to fight for our common rights. Very useful post Alex. It surely lifts up our spirits.

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