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UK Police Threaten Teenage Photojournalist 344

Posted by kdawson
from the mightier-than-the-truncheon dept.
IonOtter writes "In what seems to be a common occurrence, and now a costly one, Metropolitan Police in the UK still don't seem to be getting the message that assaulting photographers is a bad idea. UK press photographer Jules Matteson details the event in his blog, titled The Romford Incident. The incident has already been picked up by The Register, The Independent, and the British Journal of Photography, which contains an official statement from the Metropolitan Police."
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UK Police Threaten Teenage Photojournalist

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  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:23AM (#32741912) Journal

    The Independent may be less, well, un-Independent than most of the mainstream rags, but no-one pays much attention to it. And The Register is read by as many people who count as the scrawlings on the average 6th Form toilet wall.

    It's not to say that the laws aren't being abused. It's that pompous claims like

    The Independent forced senior officers to admit that the controversial legislation is being widely misused.

    are more "haha I stuck it to the Man!" exaggeration than evidence of the Met receiving a genuine reprimand from those who represent us.

    • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:04AM (#32742116) Journal

      /., why must you engage in so much mutual masturbation? Liberals (in the classical "defender of liberty" sense, not in the US "not conservative" sense) are being downtrodden precisely because they think small.

      Yes, it's great that senior officers have issued a memo to junior officers - not even a slap on the wrist - but the problems are:

      1. the intentional vagary of the law, which must be tackled at Parliament level - not that this is very easy while the LDs have sold themselves out and Cameron is waving around the "in Britain's security interests" card;
      2. the general principles ("oh god bombs and pedos everywhere!") by which the Met operates, with significant politicising of the police by senior officers.

      Remember: in any reasonable state, it's not the policeman's job to write or interpret the law, and the police should never have the power of a law so vague as the Terrorism Acts. Are you not paying attention? The public aren't even allowed to know where certain Laws apply. This might protect a few people on the ground being harassed, but it's the worst way of sweeping the problem under the carpet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        3500 pounds is chump change.
        The policeman 'made something up' - a complete disgrace - then 'enforced it' - unforgivable.
        Personal accountability should see at least triple that amount personally be deducted from constable plod + damages - loss of story is their job.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>the intentional vagary of the law

        Absolutely. Causing "alarm and distress to a member of the public" is an offense in the UK.

        In this case, though, you had a photographer that sounded like a total prat, ranting on about his rights and refusing to answer reasonable questions by a police officer (listen to the audio). In no surprising development, the person who antagonized the police got in trouble, whereas the other people in the area doing the same thing (http://julesmattsson.wordpress.com/2010/06/28

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:33AM (#32742502)

          "antagonising the police" isn't a crime. And, since they are not a member of the public because they are a Police Officer, that "Causing alarm and distress to a member of the public" doesn't apply to him (though it DOES apply to the total prat, therefore the officer broke the law you're asserting the pratt did.

          I propose to you that the police officer was the pratt and not only that abused power and position to break the law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In this case, though, you had a photographer that sounded like a total prat, ranting on about his rights and refusing to answer reasonable questions by a police officer

          Fuck you.

          The guy became "a total prat" after he was rouged up for taking a picture and had the police outright lie to him about what his rights were.

          Pull your head out of the government's ass for a minute, your brain is starving for oxygen.

        • by AGMW (594303) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:54AM (#32743006) Homepage

          In this case, though, you had a photographer that sounded like a total prat, ranting on about his rights and refusing to answer reasonable questions by a police officer (listen to the audio).

          Isn't it odd how different people can hear different things. For example, I heard the kid asking why he was being detained (consistently throughout the audio) and the Police trying to find some valid reason ... and failing!

          The problem here was the intervention from the first police person (a cadet IIRC). Had the next (real!) copper who rocked up listened to the cadet's reason for intervention and then put him/her? straight and apologised to the kid photographer all would have been well, but he decided to back up the cadet instead! And why? Because Police always (ALWAYS ALWAYS!) stick together!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mdwh2 (535323)

          Being polite may be a good idea tactically, but that doesn't justify the original problem of harrassing people taking photos and telling them they shouldn't be doing so. It's not just about whether we have sympathy for this individual person, it's what happens to everyone who might be in that situation of taking photos in public.

          Meanwhile, it's okay for London to be covered in CCTV - if that adult cadet officer was so worried about parental permission, perhaps he could show me the parental permission that w

          • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @09:49AM (#32743672) Journal

            Even when you're polite, it doesn't mean you'll get good treatment. I encountered Homeland Security while driving from California to Texas, and even though I smiled and submitted to the Armed Soldiers, they still made me stand-around in the hot sun for two hours. Why? I refused to pop my trunk. I politely told them if they get a search warrant from a judge, then I'll open the car, but I will not submit to an warrantless search. So they punished me.

            And then there's the guy who was flying from St Louis to Washington DC (his home), and the TSA forced him to an interrogation. He too was polite but it didn't stop the Armed Idiots from harassing him and making him miss his flight. Oh yeah - his crime? He had about $5000 in his wallet. Oh noes! OMG! A fucking american who has money! He must be a criminal!

            Fuckign a. Freedom? More like serfdom.

            AUDIO OF TSA INTERROGATION of innocent traveler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWcUFB92S2o#t=1m15s [youtube.com]

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              You, and other Americans, need to learn the following few phrases:

              "Is this a consensual search?" followed by "Sorry, but I don't consent to searches."
              "Am I being detained?" followed by "Am I free to go?"
              "I am calling my lawyer," followed by "If I am not free to go, are you denying me my right to counsel?"

              In your case, the second line above would have started the ball rolling.

              Don't say anything else, don't get mouthy, don't try to demonstrate your incomplete knowledge of the law.

      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:28AM (#32742480) Journal

        Remember: in any reasonable state, it's not the policeman's job to write or interpret the law

        It is part of their job to interpret the law since you have to interpret it to apply it, but that interpretation can be challenged and corrected by the courts. The sad thing is that this has happened, more than once, and yet the message still does not seem to be getting through to them. While I can certainly understand that the journalist in question was being aggressive and extremely annoying he was within his rights and if you can't handle people like that you should not be a police officer.

        A far better way to have handled this would have been to just stand in front of the guy blocking his pictures all the while asking him politely if he would please wait until the start of the parade. That way you achieve most of your aims, get your message across loud and clear and annoy the journalist.

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:42AM (#32742546) Homepage

          But the biggest point is that to make police behave in society you MUST embarrass the specific officer.

          All this generalized crap is bullcrap.

          the headline should be "Officer Freeman of 1234 West East street" was a complete dick to a journalist today. How often is OFFICER FREEMAN a complete disgrace to the city?"

          You need to out the officer, publically humiliate them. It's the only weapon we have against the police.

          When it's generalized and hidden it empowers the bad cops to continue to be bad and corrupt cops.

        • It is part of their job to interpret the law since you have to interpret it to apply it, but that interpretation can be challenged and corrected by the courts.

          Is this perhaps one of the weak points of the current UK Common Law variant? There is the potential to write broad laws under the assumption that

          1. The Police will initially interpret them reasonably and in a disinterested manner; and
          2. the Courts will refine any problems with interpretation again in a disinterested manner;
          3. the Police will pay attention to Court decisions;
          4. people charged but not convicted will not be damaged by an arrest record.

          Consider the police, instead of having become heavily politicsed and t

          • by Captain Hook (923766) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:51AM (#32742976)

            I would like to understand what causes /some/ police officers to get uppity and apparently very insecure. I'd like them to feel confident and proud of their jobs. What do they fear? Is it not meeting some target? I can understand an officer in obvious physical danger lashing out too hard (what is unreasonable defence when you're having a knife waved in your face?), but why otherwise?

            I think a lot of these situations are caused by a mismatch between the respect police officers think they deserve and what they actually get.

            Listening to the clip, it sounded like the police officer thought making the annoying kid stop photographing would be as simple as telling him to stop, because police are the authority and everyone should just do what they say, but instead the annoying kid asked which law was being used to prevent a legal activity. At that point they should have simply said their is no law, but please just wait until the parade starts. He probably wouldn't have, but since there is no law to stop him, that's all they could do. Instead they make up a cock and bull story which he immediately sees through and it's down hill from there.

            From that point on the police keep upping the ante, hoping he's going to back down, which frankly was ridiculous given that they knew he was recording them making up these stupid reasons why he should stop. They got themselves painted into a corner by a 16 year old who played the situation very well, they couldn't just let him carry on because it would have dented their authority but at the same time there really was nothing they could do legally to stop him since nothing he was doing was illegal.

            The Disturbing The Peace thing they actually arrested him on at the end was the only reasonable law they quoted and the only disturbance was caused after the police got involved.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GooberToo (74388)

          It is part of their job to interpret the law since you have to interpret it to apply it,

          You're right. It is their job. The problem is, in the US, it has become their mantra to say its NOT their job to interpret the law, that's a judge's job. As such, they arrest and harass for anything and everything. And this is done because that's the PD's policy.

          You see, the more people you can get into the system, the easier it is to track and control the public. If the public fears the PD for anything and everything, the public effectively becomes steeple; and that's the intent.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Bahhhh....

        It's better to have the warm comfy blanket of fake security than the silly freedom thing that I never use...

        Now shut up, the next show on the telly is starting....

        Bahhhhhh...... Bahhhhhhh!

  • Transparency (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spqr0a1 (1504087) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:23AM (#32741914)

    This journalist will be alright. Nothing gets the government scared like a big steam of bad press (which the internet is more than willing to provide).
    Now is a great time to be living. Despite all of the bad news about orwellian government in the UK, not even they can get away with harassing citizens in the age of the internet.

    Yup, can't stop the signal and all that.

    • by BoberFett (127537) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:54AM (#32742072)

      Until Obama installs his kill switch.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @09:12AM (#32743224) Homepage

        Does anyone seriously think that is a realistic option?

        Aside from the difficulty in getting the rest of the world to shut down their systems as well it would be economic suicide. Apart from the web and email, which are pretty essential these days anyway, mobile phone networks and VOIP would stop working, utilities would not be able to monitor remote stations, even ATMs and card payment machines in shops would not work.

        It would be a bit like seeing incoming ICBMs and then trying to nuke yourself first.

    • Re:Transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dimethylxanthine (946092) <mr.fruit@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:02AM (#32742106) Homepage

      Nothing gets the government scared like a big steam of bad press

      As much as I want to agree there is a thin line between the right to freedom becoming a privilege [of those who know their laws and can effectively challenge law enforcement] or disappearing completely to intimidating tactics we've all witnessed in recent weeks (G20 [youtube.com], Toronto [facebook.com])

      Now, unless one wants their country joining the likes of Russia, where journalist homicide has become normal practice, with six having been killed this year alone (9 the previous year), giving them as much bad press as possible should be the least we can do stand up for our rights (especially if you don't know them!).

      As my grandfather tends to say (quoting somebody famous probably) - "there is just one step from comedy to tragedy". Adapt it as you will to the context, but the UK seems to have taken two steps too many in that direction in recent history. And that's just what made it to the press!

    • Re:Transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:24AM (#32742206)

      Nothing gets the government scared like a big steam of bad press (which the internet is more than willing to provide).

      There was this one hour TV show that I used to watch in the 1970s, it was an era when nobody could get any more than about 12 channels, and only 3 channels had anything anybody seriously wanted to watch, so this show had quite a following. It exposed governments, politicians and corporations that did evil and malicious things. The show was called 60 Minutes [wikipedia.org], and I figured that with all these big time, bad characters being exposed every week, then in a few years their should be absolutely no corruption whatsoever in government or industry, because these investigative reporters were exposing everything. Now it's a few decades later and this show is STILL exposing corruption in government and industry.

      I find it ironic that the article claims the police made "a costly" mistake, because this huge multimillion dollar organization was fined 3,500 pounds. And no police officers were fired, jailed, or otherwise punished. In the mean time a chilling effect has been felt by photographers everywhere because they know they can get harassed by police officers anytime and anywhere; and have to spend time and money and energy filing a complaint and going to court with a good possibility that they will lose the case unless somebody happens to have HIDDEN camera evidence.

      officers were advised that Section 44 powers [anti-terror laws] should not be used unnecessarily against photographers.

      Ref: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-uturn-on-photographers-and-antiterror-laws-1834626.html [independent.co.uk] The bolding was mine. It's all very pathetic that this case is somehow framed to make it look like a victory for freedom.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GooberToo (74388)

        I find it ironic that the article claims the police made "a costly" mistake, because this huge multimillion dollar organization was fined 3,500 pounds. And no police officers were fired, jailed, or otherwise punished. In the mean time a chilling effect has been felt by photographers everywhere because they know they can get harassed by police officers anytime and anywhere; and have to spend time and money and energy filing a complaint and going to court with a good possibility that they will lose the case unless somebody happens to have HIDDEN camera evidence.

        At least it hasn't reached US levels yet. In the US police commonly murder, destroy evidence, manufacturer evidence, steal, destroy property, illegally detain, falsely arrest, sexually assault, gang rape, so on and so on, and are almost never prosecuted or punished; unless you consider paid leave punishment.

        I'm sure some moderator can't wait to troll moderate because they are ignorant of the world around them [youtube.com]. Or, perhaps they never pick up a news paper. The reality is, in the US, police have steadily been

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xest (935314)

      FYI the Orwellian government in the UK was overthrown in elections in May.

      The new regime isn't perfect, but it's a whole lot better, and has done more for civil liberties in the last month than the old government did in 13 years.

      What they'll do about things like this is yet to be seen, but sadly these things take time, although some people will cry on about things like this as examples of their failure, the reality is it takes more than a month to change these things. The real test will be in a year or two,

      • Re:Transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:18AM (#32742428) Homepage

        FYI the Orwellian government in the UK was overthrown in elections in May.

        BS. There will be no change in Orwellianism in either the UK or the US unless and until the entire system is reformed. Witness the total farce that is the "change" Obama brought in.

        Shut down Gitmo? Bring the troops home? Curtailing the free pass that the corporate sector gets on the taxpayer's dollar?

        Nothing changed. Nothing meaningful to US foreign and long term policy anyway. The UK will be the same. This is because the policy makers and power brokers are not the figureheads that you vote for.

        Here in Australia, our prime minister Kevin Rudd just got ousted by, and I quote from most of the major news outlets, "power brokers behind the scenes", among whom is her de-facto partner. I don't know about anyone else, but that to me indicates just how much is controlled by the electorate, and how much is controlled by powerful lobbyists who the public do not vote for and never even see.

        • by Xest (935314)

          "BS. There will be no change in Orwellianism in either the UK or the US unless and until the entire system is reformed. Witness the total farce that is the "change" Obama brought in."

          You're generalising. The new British government has already improved the situation, ID cards for example are already out the window.

          We're not talking about Obama's form of change, here we have actual change. Whilst as I said in my previous post there is no way they could do everything they wanted in a month, the fact that they

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Falconhell (1289630)

          "Here in Australia, our prime minister Kevin Rudd just got ousted by, and I quote from most of the major news outlets, "power brokers behind the scenes"

          Almost certainly that major news outlet belongs to the Murdoch press who, along with the mining industry have run a virrulent campaign against the Rudd govenment for the last 9 months. They were almost certainly parroting the Liberal oppositions line of attack.

          If you are looking for lobbists THAT is who to look at-dont just repeat the propaganda of a despera

    • This (Score:3, Interesting)

      Nothing gets the government scared like a big steam of bad press (which the internet is more than willing to provide).

      This more than anything else is why the days of the True Internet are numbered - to be replaced by an electonic version of the Panopticon. I used to think the most precious commodity in the future would be potable water. I was wrong; it will be true privacy and anonymity.

    • Re:Transparency (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:50AM (#32742580)

      Nothing gets the government scared like a big steam of bad press

      which the internet is more than willing to provide

      Maybe in 25 years, the government will really care what happens online. For now, they're all nicely isolated from that in their ivory towers of rich upbringings, knowing the right people, their party "firewalls" of support and funds, etc. To the current generation of MPs, the Internet (including all of us) might as well be some weird, barely relevant subculture, like Goths or Emos.

  • by cc1984_ (1096355) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:26AM (#32741932)

    It's not just photographers who are at the receiving end of this absolute abomination of a law. Does anyone remember Damien Green whose house was raided by Anti-Terror police for basically selling tittle-tattle to the press?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damian_Green [wikipedia.org]

    Makes me sick.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:24AM (#32742204)

      Damien Green was arrested by members of SO15. What used to be called Special Branch. Special Branch has always been the department concerned with political matters. They are the police department that play a part in the protection of VIPs - politicans, and foreign dignitaries. They are the group that arrest spies. etc.

      If there was a Watergate Affair in Britain, then Special Branch would be the department that would arrest those involved and investigate. That was true back in the 1970s, it's still true now.

      The Damien Green affair most certainly comes into that remit, and always would have done. It's the arrest of a politician for misconduct in public office, and involves a spy in goverment offices. It's very clearly Special Branch business, and would have been so had it happened at any time over the past 40 years and more.

      But the bigger question is why does it matter which particular officers were used for the arrest? It's an irelevent operational matter. What's important is what law is the basis of the arrest. And that was not terror law. He was arrested for misconduct in public office.

      The real scandal here is that he should have been prosecuted. There was ample evidence. But MPs stuck together rather than let one of their own face prosecution. One law for MPs another for everyone else. A bit like the way the smoking ban law and British licensing hours for serving alcohol don't apply in the palace of Westminster. MPs believe they are special and inconvenient laws that they create shouldn't apply to them.

      • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:15AM (#32742420)

        That's a horrendously biased account that misses some extremely important facts, and you are outright incorrect in most areas.

        Starting with SO15, it's not just a rebadged special branch at all, and your suggestion of special branches role is rather narrow so as to be utterly misleading. No, SO15's official name is "Counter Terrorism Command", see here for a list of their roles:

        http://www.met.police.uk/so/counter_terrorism.htm [police.uk]

        Note how they're entirely terrorism focussed nowadays, and have been since well before Damien Green's arrest?

        Moving on from the role of SO15, the issue isn't the branch of police involved, the issue is the way they were involved, and to some degree, the fact they were involved at all.

        If you agree that they should have been involved, then the question arises as to why due process wasn't followed, why despite initial denial that there appeared to have been contact between the police and the opposing (then ruling) party or at least some members of it, and why the police investigation involved searching for things clearly unrelated to the leaks but which are extremely suggestive of political motivation.

        But there's a valid question as to whether the police should've been involved at all, because there was a clear public interest defence and the CPS would've hence never been able to pursue a case anyway, this adds further evidence towards the idea that the raid was entirely politically motivated- clearly no real prospect of a conviction, searches for and through unrelated data, then why bother? This is ultimately why the case was dropped, your theory about MPs standing together makes no sense, because the vast majority of Labour were very much interested in a prosecution and they held the majority of seats in parliament.

        Realistically it was almost certainly another one of Jacqui Smiths grossly authoritarian moves, and it failed miserably. It's not a case of one rule for them, one rule for everyone else- the public interest defence which would've defeated any charges with ease in this particular case (you're right there was plenty of evidence he did it, that wasn't in dispute, there was just no evidence is wasn't in the public interest) applies to anyone. In fact, to prove this point this is also why the people involved in the MP expenses leak last year avoided any charges or prosecution too, because despite pressure from MPs to act, the police also dropped that investigation because there was no way they could defeat a public interest defence against that act of leaking those documents. The evidence they did it was there, the evidence it wasn't in public interest simply didn't exist. The people responsible for that leak weren't politicians or anything of the like, they were normal citizens yet contrary to your point, public interest prevailed in their favour.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          Starting with SO15, it's not just a rebadged special branch at all, and your suggestion of special branches role is rather narrow so as to be utterly misleading. No, SO15's official name is "Counter Terrorism Command", see here for a list of their roles:

          What you say is true, as is what I say. I was't trying to give a comprehensive list of the department's responsibilities, I was describing the reason why they are the correct department to do the arrest. That reason goes back to the fact that it has always b

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Xest (935314)

            ...and you don't think moving special branch into a counter terrorism unit and still using that unit to carry out arrest of politicians is a bad idea? Seriously?

            It doesn't matter how you cut it, use of a counter terrorism unit to arrest MPs is heavy handed and a bad idea, just as using anti-terrorism laws to freeze the assets of a foreign sovereign nation (Iceland) was a bad idea.

            I'm not sure why you're jumping to accusations of spying now, because that's even more obscure. Certainly there was no suggestion

    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:43AM (#32742288)

      Or Iceland whose major banks had their assets frozen using anti-terror laws.

      I'm British and even I think that move was absolutely shocking. It's not that I disagree with freezing the assets of the banks necessarily although I do believe it was a rushed decision that wasn't thought through in the slightest, it's the fact we were willing to effectively brand an entire nation as terrorists just because we didn't want their banks to take our cash with them when they went under.

      Local councils under the last government were also using anti-terror legislation to spy on families who registered their kids outside their catchment areas, to perform surveillance on people whose dogs had fouled on public property and not been picked up.

      Anti-terror legislation has a long history of abuse under the old government, I just sincerely hope that under our new government this is merely a remaining trace element that will be delt with, but we'll see I guess.

      Still, Damian Green's party hold the majority of power in the coalition government right now, so hopefully having been victims first hand they know the importance of fixing bad anti-terror legislation.

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:28AM (#32741944)
    Jules was dressed like this [wikimedia.org] at the time.
  • Lucky it was not FIT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:28AM (#32741950) Homepage Journal
    UK Police Forward Intelligence Team where asked about not wearing ID vid :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KRgmn-n5ls [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:37AM (#32741988)

    ...but now's the right time to buy a nice Nikon DSLR and some decent glass on a credit card, then walk around central London taking photographs. When you get illegally stopped on trumped up charges it's just one quick trip to the lawyers and that thing's paid for itself.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by tehcyder (746570)
      You seem to have overlooked the fact that the police seem to have acted legally (i.e. in accordance with this fucking stupid law), so you're not going to be able to sue them.
      • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:16AM (#32742166) Journal

        Really? From what I can see in the article, the officer made up several untrue 'laws' throughout the encounter.

        Even if the photographer happened to be in technical breach of some all-encompassing terror law, it could easily be argued that the way the officer handled it shows a desire to arrest for any old 'crime' rather than an actual response to a threat, not to mention worrying ignorance of the law. The letter of the law is not the only thing that matters, in theory at least, intent comes into the matter too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        Stopping a press photographer from photographing a public event in a public place featuring members of the public, and some public servants in the form of military personnel, or police officers who are expressly forbidden preventing photographs being taken of themselves or their identifying markings?

        I read about this yesterday on El Reg, and watched the video. The kid was polite yet firm, and remarkably well informed for a teenager (he's 16). I hope he gets a few of these idiots fired.
      • by Zocalo (252965)
        Not true. From The Register article [theregister.co.uk] in the summary:

        Meanwhile, photojournalists Marc Vallee and Jason Parkinson last week received compensation of £3,500 apiece in respect of an incident outside the Greek Embassy in December 2008.

        If anything, the circumstances of Jules' Stop with its made up legislation and rough handling is a more severe breach of The Human Rights Act than that of Marc Vallee and Jason Parkinson, so a payout is entirely possible, given the closing line of the article:

        The bill for t

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:45AM (#32742028)
    The Metropolitan Police are the London police force. A quick survey of complaints against the police will show why this is unsurprising. Most British police forces are pretty good. I've lived in Herts, Cambs,Hants,Somerset, and never had the least concern about the local police force, as regards its competence or its honesty. But the Met has a reputation for corruption and violence, along with the West Midlands Police. Whether this represents the reality of policing in those areas - I wouldn't want to live in either of them - or whether large urban police forces just tend to go this way (think LA) I don't know. The Met also suffers from having a national role (which I believe to be quite wrong) and to be subject to lots of political pressure. But the motto of the Met really needs to be "quis custodiet ipsos custodes".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Police tend to adapt to their environment just like everyone else. If an area has a history of a particular type of incident or a particular type of people, they will begin to see everything as if it were similar. While there may well be corruption in the police department (having been a Dallas, TX resident, I know about corrupt police -- google "Terrell Bolton" to see) I tend to think that problems as large as this are more likely motivated by a fear of being accused of "not doing enough" to stop whateve

  • Qualifications (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stimpleton (732392) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:47AM (#32742038)
    The only qualification required generally to join the police is a clean criminal record, and some very basic skills, mostly physical. After that the course length is stunningly short(weeks) for a job which has a responsibility as strong as high responsibility jobs. High school qualifications are minimal, and tertiary is a waste of time, untill you have done the hard yards and learnt the chain of evidence mantra.

    Lets simplify it. When push comes to shove and they are chasing a theft suspect, the ability to run, react, tackle, and subdue are at the top of the list. The police officer could not be like Richard Stallman for example. The mere presence of some intellectual brilliance, probably removes any ability to "do the grunt work".
    • Re:Qualifications (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:50AM (#32742048)

      Lets simplify it. When push comes to shove and they are chasing a theft suspect, the ability to run, react, tackle, and subdue are at the top of the list. The police officer could not be like Richard Stallman for example. The mere presence of some intellectual brilliance, probably removes any ability to "do the grunt work".

      Not just that, I've heard rumours (take them with as much salt as you think such a rumour from someone you've never met babbling on /. deserves) that at least one police force actively discriminates against people who are too smart because such people might start to think for themselves.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:06AM (#32742126)

        Old joke:

        Why do the Met go round in threes?

        One who can read, one who can write, and one to keep an eye on the two other dangerous intellectual subversives...

      • by discord5 (798235) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:12AM (#32742148)

        Not just that, I've heard rumours that at least one police force actively discriminates against people who are too smart because such people might start to think for themselves.

        That's nothing, last week I heard from my neighbour whose dogsitter has a cousin who's married to a policemans dog that they actually lobotomize people when they sign the contract. They don't even use any surgical equipment, just the pen the applicant signed in with and a rusty spoon. They do get the option of a sedative though, but from what I've heard from my housemates sister that has a plumber who's married to a policewoman, the sedative involves applying a hammer to someone's forehead.

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        I don't know about where you live, but in the UK if you're intelligent and have a degree you can go through a fast track system which ends up with being pretty senior within a relatively few years, and I believe only a couple of years actually on the beat. So it's not just a job for thickos any more.

        It's a bit like the army, sure you can go in as a private with virtually no qualifications, but to be an officer is a different thing altogether.

    • the ability to run, react, tackle, and subdue are at the top of the list. The police officer could not be like Richard Stallman for example.

      But wait; if they had katanas instead of guns, they might be less casual about using lethal force. (Then again, maybe not.)

  • Civil Rights (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It seems the UK is slowly but surely slipping away and turning into a police state. A human rights report a while ago called the UK an endemic surveillance society and the situation keeps getting worse. Unfortunately the problems around photography are not unique to the UK, I have personally been bothered in The Netherlands by security personnel on two occassions and have been asked to delete a photograph by two plainclothes policemen after taking a photo which had one of them in it. All three of these inci

    • Re:Civil Rights (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xest (935314) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:21AM (#32742440)

      I explained a bit more about the change of government here:

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1702892&cid=32742270 [slashdot.org]

      It's simply not the case that the UK is seeing civil liberties eroded more since the change of government last month, already we've had firm action to reverse some of the policies of the previous government, and we've promises of much more to come- if even some of them are followed it puts the UK in a much better state.

      I'm not naive enough to believe things will be perfect, but currently the situation in the UK is certainly that civil liberties situation in general is actually improving from where it was, not getting worse, for now at least.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BasilBrush (643681)

        It's simply not the case that the UK is seeing civil liberties eroded more since the change of government last month, already we've had firm action to reverse some of the policies of the previous government, and we've promises of much more to come

        One of the promises is the re-introduction of the sus law. If you don't remember that, it was the power that the police had to stop and search anyone at will. It was used disproportionally against black people, and was the primary cause of the early 80s inner city

  • Lions and Donkeys (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:02AM (#32742100)

    I have just resigned from a county force after serving 4 years and this doesn't really surprise me at all. Most cops just don't know the law and certainly aren't kept abreast of developments. This isn't aimed at the officers, as there is simply no time for this. My normal working week was around 55 hours consistently working 12 hour day / late / night shifts. When on duty you are writing an hour for every hour you are out doing your job, and have around 15 fairly complex investigations ongoing at any one time... all the time being expected to respond to 999 calls... Not that we were flush for cover; at least once a month there were periods of several hours where only one or two officers covered a large suburban area of around 100,000 people, it was a wonder no-one is seriously hurt during such times.

    As a result.. officers don't keep up on the law, they aren't trained in it and expected 99% of the time to generally do what they think is right and then look it up afterwards. 20 years ago there was a "spare" shift every fortnight used to learn updates to legislation and practise self defence skills; this is seen as a wasteful excess in the modern police service.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy (611105)

      I didn't realise that it was like this, and it sounds like a damn shame that those are the conditions you had to work in, but would you also agree that the officer in question (and those in similar cases) seems to have an attitude problem?

      You say the police are "expected 99% of the time to generally do what they think is right and then look it up afterwards", which is certainly not optimal, but is somewhat understandable. What I don't see, however, is what genuine harm the officer thought was being done by

    • by shilly (142940) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:20AM (#32742434)

      but this isn't about keeping abreast of the latest developments in the law. this is about something really fundamental, which you'd hope coppers would learn really early on in their job, and would be reinforced by a pervasive culture:

      1) "people don't have to do what I say just because I'm a copper. they have to do what I say insofar as I enforce the law"
      2) "if someone's doing something legal and I don't want them to do it any more, I can't make it illegal just by telling them to stop"
      3) "I'm not the parent of the members of the public I meet. I don't get to win every battle of wills because I am an officer of the law"

    • by the_womble (580291) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:53AM (#32742600) Homepage Journal

      Not being up to date with legislation is no excuse for making up imaginary laws.

      If they do not know something to be illegal, they should do nothing.

  • the met (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:02AM (#32742112) Homepage Journal

    Some things never change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO8EpfyCG2Y [youtube.com]

  • Just a hunch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:06AM (#32742128)

    but I think he failed the initial attitude test and they were trying to goad him into failing it even harder.

    Not because of something he said, but the tone in which he said it and the fact he never let the officers get a word in edgeways.

    (There is the other, orthogonal issue that nobody ever likes to admit that they're wrong - particularly not when they're in a position of authority - and as soon as something like that happens it's vanishingly unlikely to end nicely for the photographer because the only way it could end nicely is if the police officer could be persuaded to double-check that they were in the right, get told that they weren't, apologise and let the photographer go about their business, which gets less and less likely the longer it goes on because the longer it goes on, the bigger the cock-up the occifer has to admit to.)

  • by Robotron23 (832528) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:01AM (#32742358) Homepage

    Britain has recently elected a new government, one which (on a few issues) is less authoritarian than the previous Labour government. Thirteen years of Labour led to some unwarranted laws coming into being, ranging from making it illegal to photograph a police officer - technically a video filmed by an American at a G8 summits' protests in London is illegal and should not have been shown...despite the fact it showed an officer shoving a man to the ground having not even been provoked; the assaulted man died minutes later of a heart attack.

    So yeah, Labour (a right-wing party whose swing towards that direction began in the Thatcher years) brought all sorts of unpleasent socially restrictive policy, implemented gradually to the point where - ironically for those who saw it once as a permissive, left-wing outfit - they became more authoritarian than our traditiional right-wing party (Conservatives) ever have been. One of the early Labour architects, Lord Mandelson, has among the most poignent views on Internet restriction; ranging from prosecuting people with cartoons for 'possession of child porn' to much tougher sentencing for those who infringe copyright.

    But to stay on topic; two things are probably most disturbing (yet predictably New Labour) about laws like forbidding photographing police is that they are justified as 'stopping terrorism'. Ridiculous as photographs of British plod are all over the Net. The other disturbing point is how easily most of the population rolls over and takes this like some apathetic whore. Two people close to me, a friend and a family member, both have no qualms with providing samples for the proposed 'DNA database' that our government pondered bringing in, and I know even more individuals with absolutely no qualms with the (now scrapped) identity cards. Want to encrypt your hard drive but get charged of a crime that requires computer access for the police? Not giving up your password can get you years in jail; and no freedom-loving geek has yet set a precedent against this.

    Yes we're the most watched people in the world, yes you can be detained and not charged for weeks if suspected of 'terror offences', and yes our local governments have enthusiastically used some of New Labour's reforms to enforce their own supposed justice (think monitoring people suspected of avoiding tax or claiming welfare wrongly etc). What's worst is that much of Labour's work along these lines won't even be done away with by the imcumbent coalition; which has our most liberal major party as a component.

  • The Metropolitan Police will be funding the bar bill for your first year at university. If you keep taking pictures of these... constables... then you might be able to get them to fund you all the way through to graduation.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:26AM (#32742782) Homepage Journal

    All the terrorists need now is to get police uniforms now, and they can do pretty much anything they desire. Kidnap people, tell people to move out of their operation area, forbid people from taking photos of them, essentially operate unrestricted and unhindered in broad daylight in plain sight of city monitoring. And anyone who asks them questions will get "detained" into a black bag on the back of their van.

  • Surprise, surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:32AM (#32742826)

    All police are authoritarian jerks.

    Yes, all not some.

    Any individual police officer who has never done such a thing has ignored another officer doing so, covered up for another officer doing so, and so on. And hence is just as bad if not worse.

  • Identification (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @09:01AM (#32743094)

    I am surprised that he didn't ask the police officer for identification.

    Once the encounter went from the stage of being just a chat to the stage the police officer physically tries to stop you and/or tells you that you must do something and/or asks for your identification then the natural step is to ask the officer to ascertain that he is indeed a police officer (not just somebody dressed as one).

    While the ID itself would be pretty damn useless (this being the UK and the Met police which never had an officer convicted of abuse of power even when do so and people die) the act of getting the officer's ID should change the dynamic of the discussion from the "Copper trying to get somebody to do what he wants" to the "Properly identified Police officer enforcing the law" which in this specific case, given that the law was in the side of the freelance photographer, would actually constraint the officer's actions.

    That said, in the UK and given the anti-terrorist laws that we have in the books, the only real restriction by law that Police officers have is that at most they can only fuck-up somebody's life for 28 days by keeping them in jail without charge for that length of time.

  • Streets of England (Score:4, Informative)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @10:07AM (#32743908) Journal
    Where the government can have cameras, but you can't.

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