Posts Tagged 'Section 44'

“Stop and Search” Fails As An Anti-Terror Method

The data from the Home Office is in, and it turns out not one person was arrested in connection with terrorism in the UK as a result of “stop and search” powers allowed under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Wait — surely that photographer police harassed in front of a skyscraper, or on the subway, or in a mall was up to no good…? Really? Not one?

Really. We’re talking about 101,248 stops over the past year.

Which only bolsters what civil liberties advocates have long been saying — that these measures employed by often fearful and hamstrung governments do more to strip our rights than keep us safe.

Source: BBC

British Police: “We don’t have to have a law”

British police have been told they shouldn’t harass professional or amateur photographers because – get this – it’s not an illegal activity, but those orders sometimes have a hard time reaching the rank and file. Or maybe it just becomes a lot more difficult if certain officers don’t have to follow things like “laws.”

On Saturday, freelance photographer Jules Mattsson, 16, was shooting an Armed Forces Day parade in Romford in London when he was harassed by officers who told him, among other things, that taking photos of children…and military…and police are all illegal.

How could that be? Where are those laws on the books? That’s what Mattsson thought, and when he tried in vain to assert his rights, he was told: “We don’t have to have a law.”

But Mattsson wasn’t your average pushover, so the officers resorted to stuff like telling him he was “in the way” and an “agitator” and a “threat under the terrorism act.”

The confrontation is priceless in its illustration of the hapless and ill-informed police officer who wants to throw his weight around just because he can. You can read a transcript on the Libertarian Party Members’ Blog here.

Article from The Independent and Jules Mattsson

British Police Stop & Search Every 20 Seconds

The British government released a bewildering statistic yesterday: Somebody is stopped and searched every 20 seconds in that country. And nine out of 10 of those aren’t arrested, which means the police are increasingly using their authority, including the power provided to them under Section 44 of the antiterrorism act, to stop people for very little or even no cause.

From the Daily Mail article:

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: “Stop and search powers are being over-used and abused. When trainspotters, photographers and Japanese tourists are all up in arms, it should be clear even to Labour that this law needs to be tightened up.”

A companion article on the site talks about how a lot of these stops have involved photographers, and we know all about that from the various reports, like this one and this one and this one….

Article from the Daily Mail

Steve Bell’s War on Photography

More work from Steve Bell

Kent Photographer Stopped Again

Alex Turner was stopped for taking pictures of Chatham High Street in Kent, England, today. Hmmm, sound familiar? It’s the same Alex Turner who was arrested on July 8th for taking pictures on the same busy stretch of road.

When stopped this time, Turner was asked by police what he was doing and to produce some ID. He was also asked if he’d ever been arrested before, which he now had to say yes – under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Not wanting to get arrested again, he handed over his ID, and after seeing the pictures he took, the officers were satisfied that he was not a terrorist and let him go.

Turner admits maybe he was pushing his luck. But, really, why is it pushing one’s luck to photograph a public street at two different times?

Read his full account here.

Don’t Take Photographs in Kent – Or Else

Photo by Alex Turner

It’s well known the English police have no mercy when it comes to photography. The craziest stories always seem to be coming out of there. And this one is no different.

Photographer Alex Turner was arrested last week in Kent after taking some photos of a fish restaurant. The grounds were “prevention of terrorism” under Section 44, the catch-all anti-terrorism law English police like to use to do whatever they damn well please. But really the officer was just annoyed he took a photo of her, and she claimed that was an unlawful obstruction.

As he tell it on his blog: Two men who claimed they worked for the town council stopped Turner while he was taking photos and requested his identity. When he refused, being that they didn’t fully identify themselves or explain their authority to stop him, they called police. When the officers showed up and Turner took a photo, he was handcuffed, arrested and detained in a police van.

Whilst sharing their views about the threat of terrorism officer xxxxx stated she had felt threatened by me when I took her picture. I cannot recall exactly what she said but I do recall her referring to my size and inferring she found it intimidating at the time (I am 5ft 11in and weigh about 12 stone).

Are these officers really that dumb? Because they come off like real lugnuts, going around arresting people taking photos on busy streets and actually bringing up terrorism. Terrorists are blowing up buildings in Jakarta; they’re not taking photos of Mick’s Plaice in Kent.

In his blog on the Guardian site, Henry Porter writes on the incident and the “The war on street photography,” saying “Clearly something has to be done about the police attitude to photography and filming.” It’s heartening that major media outlets recognize things are out of control. But still. It just doesn’t end.

The  Kent Police released a statement to The Register and basically just recapped the incident, noting that the officers felt Turner was suspicious. However, an investigation is underway.

Turner ends his complaint to the Kent police department with this, which I think sums it all up nicely for those people who side with the government in such matters. And there are always those people who just don’t see there’s a much bigger picture here than one man being arrested in one town.

I know a fair few people may say serves you right for a number of reasons. My reponse to that is it will serve you right when you wake up one day and realise you don’t live in a free country anymore. I’ve been stopped nearly a dozen time under section 44. Up until now I’ve always provided my details. Today I decided not to. Seems that when I choose to exercise my rights I get arrested, cuffed and detained for doing so. Yossarian would appreciate the logic in that.

Read Turner’s full account in his blog.

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