Posts Tagged 'london'

Met Police Force Photog to Delete Pics

Followers of the  issue know that police in the UK are pretty tone-deaf when it comes to photographers’ rights, no matter what “guidelines” they create.

This past Sunday, freelancer Carmen Valino was working for the Hackney Gazette covering a shooting in East London when she was approached by police, who told her “she was disrupting the investigation and had to hand over her camera.” This was after she had showed her credentials and was working outside the cordoned off area. She protested until the sergeant brought out handcuffs, and then she relented. He took her camera away for five minutes and when he returned it, he told her she had to delete the images.

You have to wonder about Valino here. Perhaps she’s a rookie and didn’t know how to hold her ground. Or maybe the Met Police are frightening thugs and there’s no gettin around them. But she should have never complied – it’s an outrageous request of anyone, much less the working media.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police called it “disappointing” when officers don’t follow the department guidelines and said they’re looking into it.

Article from the Press Gazette

Steve Bell’s War on Photography

More work from Steve Bell

BBC Photographer Doubling as Terrorist?

Photo by bjoerncologne

BBC staff photographer Jeff Overs was taking photos of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral at sunset this past week when he was stopped under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act and questioned as a possible terrorist threat. For taking photos. Of a major architectural attraction. Sadly, the officer told Overs she’d been stopping people all day and he was the first to complain.

Just one more reason to be thankful we live in right-thinking democracies that value our rights…and allow us to take photos. Of major architectural attractions.

See Overs’ reaction to the harassment on The Andrew Marr Show here, where, among other things, he describes this new attitude as “all a bit Eastern Bloc, isn’t it?”

Articles via Boing Boing and  BBC

Greek Photographer’s Case Dismissed

The British Journal of Photography reports that the case against the Greek tourist who was arrested for taking a photo of a little girl on the subway in April was dismissed and can “return to Greece free.” (Does that mean he was detained in London for a month?) As we posted last week, Pericles Antoniou, 53, was on the subway with his family when he inadvertently took a photo of a young girl. Her mother went ballistic. Antoniou was arrested.

There aren’t many details about this story since it hasn’t been covered by any mainstream outlets as far as I can tell, which is shocking in itself – this is a huge civil rights violation, even in England which has a history of being extremely hostile to photographers.

Thanks to Byron.

Photography, Half-Truths and the Whole Story

glare1Photo by discarted

Columnist Ian Jack took on the ubiquity of photography in The Guardian this past weekend, and he seems to be conflicted about photography’s role in that it only provides a glimpse of the truth and not the whole story. However what he fails to note is that, without cameras, the only thing that is certain is that we get no truths, never mind half-truths.

To prove his point, Jack refers to the incident in London April 1 at the G20 Summit where police struck Ian Tomlinson from behind, causing him to slam into the ground and later die of a heart attack. The attack, seemingly out of the blue and unprovoked, was caught on film by a bystander.

Update: A second postmortem examination shows that Tomlinson died from an abdominal hemorrhage.

Jack says the details are yet to come out about what really happened, as if the fact that Tomlinson was a part of the protest would somehow justify the brutality. That  is immaterial. Regardless of what the Tomlinson did a block away or four hours before (and all accounts have said he was not a part of the melee), he was killed by a policeman who demonstrated unnecessary force, and it was caught on video. I guess Ian Jack has never heard of the expression “The tape doesn’t lie.”

More importantly, before video surfaced of the Tomlinson attack the only half-truths being told were from the Metropolitan Police (Met) when they claimed that Tomlinson died from a massive heart attack and did not have any contact with police. According to BBC reports, Tomlinson had repeated contact with Met Police before one officer caused his untimely death.

Update: The Guardian releases new photos proving Tomlinson had prior contact with police before being assaulted.

Jack also refers to the firing last week of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief, Bob Quick, after highly sensitive documents he was carrying were caught by photographers as he was going to a meeting at 10 Downing Street. The monumental gaffe forced officials to deploy a raid on al Qaeda suspects earlier than they had planned.

Continue reading ‘Photography, Half-Truths and the Whole Story’

In the Name of Terrorism, More Fear in London



It’s been a good week for paranoia-inducing ad campaigns. London has rolled out its latest counter-terrorism posters, which feature, among others images, a full trash can and a security camera with the message that people need to report on their neighbors and fellow citizens when things seem off. This is in addition to the posters released earlier that specifically targeted photographers and cell phone users.

Incidentally, a three-year study released in February found that the anti-terror methods employed in places like the US and the UK are illegal and counter-productive. While the study specifically referred to the detainment and torture of terrorism suspects, I think it can be applied to the overall climate for so-called “suspicious” activity, including photography. Our leaders not only don’t have a problem with using our fear to implement measures that are not legal or ethical, they are relying on it as a tool of governance.

“Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights,” said the chairman of the study’s panel of legal experts.

To boil it all down, it just seems so incredibly ham-handed. Do people need to be reminded to report something they feel is suspicious? And why do our governments need to fight the the nebulous beast that is international terrorism by impairing their own peoples’ quality of life? 

Article via Boing Boing

Chilly Reception for English Photographers

From the Independent, this article details the increasingly fraught environment for photography in England where police, using the all-encompassing Anti-Terrorism Act, regularly harass and detain photographers who they believe to be a threat.

Reuben Powell was jailed for five hours for taking photos of a public building in London last week. (He was ultimately released, but they did take his DNA for good measure.) The article also points to the now constant problems for railroad enthusiasts and the case of Jess Hurd, which we posted on last month.

And while the police do have a clear-cut policy on how to handle public photography, the officers in the streets seem to wantonly enforce the law whichever way they please.

Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the NUJ, said:

Even the police’s own guidance makes it clear that there’s nothing in the Terrorism Act that can be used to prohibit the taking of photos in a public place. The authorities have got to do more to ensure that those people charged with upholding the law don’t keep on contravening it by trampling over well-established civil liberties.

Article via The Independent

For Photojournalist, Pen a Concealed Weapon

Also in London, also from Dec. 10, a photojournalist named Jesse Oldershaw was stopped and searched while covering protests in front of the Greek Embassy where people had gathered in reaction to the unrest in Greece.

At 4:25 of the video, a police officer, rather preposterously, asks if Oldershaw has a knife in his back pocket. As he is being directed off to the side, Oldershaw is screaming out, “Why am I being stopped and searched by the police for a yellow pen in my bag? Everybody can see the yellow pen!” and “I’m press, why am I being stopped and searched by the police at a demonstration?”

Oldershaw continues to give a play-by-play of the incident and at one point asks the police straight out their reasoning when he is protected by law to be doing what he’s doing. They largely ignore him, but one does seem to give him a ticket.

Wedding Photographer Threat to National Security?

Jess Hurd, a photographer for the Guardian, was detained for 45 minutes by Metropolitan police Dec. 10 for taking video and stills at a Ramada Hotel in east London. Hurd was working on a story about weddings within an itinerent community known as travellers, but police felt she might be doing reconnaissance as a terrorist.

The police justified their actions by saying they are within their rights if they see suspicious activity, especially if it’s in close proximity to a sensitive sight. Apparently the Ramada was close to both the airport and a wharf. It is unclear what is suspicious about a credentialed press photographer outside a wedding reception.

The National Union of Journalists released a statement today that says, in part, “This is yet another absurd misuse of the s44 powers which are designed to allow the police to detain those actively involved in carrying out a terrorist activity not to stop press photographers carrying out their legitimate business.”

The Amateur Photograher blog says Hurd is considering legal action.

London: Take Your Stinking Cameras Elsewhere!

Cliche Crossfire

Photo by Brian Auer

Here’s a twist on the usual formula. Instead of being stopped by police while taking a photo, Mohammed Hanif writes in today’s Guardian about being stopped while getting his photo taken on a public street in London.

Hanif was posing for an author photo for a book he had just written when a security guard told them they had to leave. Ultimately they were booted from three other sites before finding a church where no one bothered them.

To London authorities, this type of activity amounts to a security risk and, accordingly, they’ve decided to make the whole process as laborious as possible. The nearly Byzantine rules in place require photographers to not only apply for a permit to shoot on public streets and wait up to a month for approval, but then they have to wear a radio-wave emitting tag while shooting. So they can be tracked.

Hanif asks:

Why would a potential terrorist (or people exhibiting suspect behaviour, as the Met likes to describe them in its anti-terror publicity) pose in front of an organic cosmetics stall and religiously follow the instructions of a white, female professional photographer who looked nothing if not an infidel?

But you see, it’s much easier to enact a very rigid, blanket law to outlaw any and all activity than evaluate cases on an individual basis and allow society to continue under some semblance of normalcy.

UPDATE: Thanks to Byron, who tells us the information in Hanif’s essay about the permit requirement and tracking device are not true and were actually part of an April Fool’s Day joke. Which means, thankfully, we are not living in Orwell’s 1984. Yet.

Article from The Guardian.

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