Hostile Olympic Security

23rd April, 2012

Olympic security guards try to prevent photographers and video journalists from filming the Olympic site from the public highway. East London.

Last week at an NUJ organised meeting with senior police several experienced photographers (I was one) asked Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison (in charge of Olympic policing) & Cdr Bob Broadhurst about the private security guards’ training and instructions. We said that on the past record of private security guards we could expect unlawful and oppressive interference.

Allison assured us that the security would ONLY be acting inside the site and that we’d have no problems on public land outside. He may have believed that. We didn’t and thought that we should check out the accuracy of his promises. There were other issues (such as closures of public rights of way) that also seemed worth coverage.

Before we’d got half way round the site – all on public land – G4S security had run out from the site, shouting at me and grabbing the camera of a colleague (Jess Hurd), pushing her back and preventing her from taking photos. A second guard also appeared and assaulted a video journalist colleague, Jason Parkinson, grabbing his camera and pushing him around.

See Guardian video here

Their manager appeared after a minute or two. She defended their behaviour and told us that they were trained to deter people from taking photographs. We asked for police to attend and two SO23 officers soon arrived, confirmed that our behaviour was entirely lawful and the G4S guards retreated back into the Olympic site.

The guards are very poorly trained by G4s, on rotten terms of temporary employment and receiving the minimum wage. The blame should be on G4S and LOCOG whose penny pinching attitude and contempt for the media is already causing us problems and is certain to cause us a great deal more unless we take a stand.

© David Hoffman

David Hoffman images here

Jess Hurd images here

Other links:

I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist

Put your camera away: security guards offer glimpse of Olympic enforcers

Olympic Park Security Guards Forcibly Stop Journalists form taking photos (Guardian)

Press Freedom at the Beijing Olympics (Guardian)

O2 Olympic venue security staff stop legal photography (Guardian)

Olympics’ security guards “trained to deter people from taking photographs” (BJP)

Olympic Guards Wrong to stop Photographer, Admits 02 (AP)

Rod Liddle’s Got Issues: CCTV (Sunday Times)

Photography and Hostile Reconnaissance, a guide for BSIA members

The Dead Zone – Philip Wolmuth

Security & the London 2012 Olympics – Grant Smith

6 Responses:

  1. Robert Zimmerman says:

    Illuminating (and ironic) to have the security guard taking off his ID armband and replying, when asked why, that he did it so that it cannot be photographed. There is no answer to that.

  2. Tom Pride says:

    Thought you might find this bit of satire amusing:
    Private Security Guards Prevent Dangerous Photograph From Being Taken of Olympic Venue –
    http://tompride.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/private-security-guards-prevent-dangerous-photograph-from-being-taken-of-olympic-venue/

  3. Jess Hurd says:

    Nice one Tom! I’ve shared it 🙂

  4. I agree, we shouldn’t (generally) blame the guards themselves, they’re only doing their job. Imagine if they let someone past to take an ‘innocent picture’ and they had a bomb, they would definitely be out of a job so they’re extra up-tight. The blame lies entirely with the companies employing them who don’t train them and instruct them correctly on who they should be letting past and who they shouldn’t…

  5. […] of my colleagues found a few days later. A group of them were stopped and two were assaulted while photographing the Olympic site from the public highway. What was particularly worrying was that their manager who came out after a […]

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