Posts Tagged ‘Police’

NUJ Surveillance & Blacklisting Campaign

27th March, 2014

As part of the campaign against blacklisting and surveillance the NUJ is asking for more members to submit subject access requests to find out what data the police have stored on journalists.

If you feel that in the course of your work you might have come under police scrutiny, or you have found yourself in front of a police camera lens, noticed an intelligence officer seeming to take interest in you, writing in their note books, or otherwise recording observations, it may be worth taking 30 minutes to fill in this form and send it off to help the NUJ expose and stop the monitoring of journalists.

More info here.

Jason Parkinson

Apology from Topshop

7th September, 2012

Police FIT film and photograph journalists outside Topshop during a UK Uncut protest. The anti-austerity direct action group calls for companies to pay their tax. Oxford Street. London. © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

Following a meeting with Arcadia Group, Adam Goldman, company secretary and Tracy Dixon, Topshop’s regional controller, the company has issued a full apology for the treatment of NUJ photographer Jess Hurd in its flagship Oxford Street store in December 2011.

Jess Hurd, chair of the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch was assaulted, dragged through the store and arrested whilst covering a peaceful UK Uncut protest. She was later de-arrested but banned from the store.

Read complaint and full account here

Read the rest of this entry »

Greek photographer hospitalised by police

6th April, 2012

UPDATE

The opertaion on Marios Lolos fractured skull was successful. The minute he woke up he wanted to meet all the colleagues that had been waiting for him. He is overwhelmed by all the support, and going to spend a few days recovering in hospital.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Greek photographer Marios Lolos, President of Press-Photographers Union of Greece is undergoing brain surgery after reportedly being beaten by riot police in Athens yesterday. We wish to extend our union branch’s solidarity and best wishes.

Journalists have every right to gather news without being subjected to intimidation and violence. The targeting of journalists is completely unacceptable and the police officers responsible should be brought to justice. Read the rest of this entry »

Met Apology for Photographer’s Parade Arrest

9th December, 2011

Police officers block Jules's camera, dislodging a lens hood, during the incident. photo Jules Mattsson

The London Photographers’ Branch congratulates its member Jules Mattsson in winning his case against the actions of the Met police when he was covering an Armed Forces Day parade in Romford last year. Jules kept calm, recorded the incident and argued for his rights in an intimidating encounter with the police. During the encounter he was abused, assaulted and threatened under the Terrorism Act and falsely imprisoned. Jules was 15 at the time and a student but had the support of branch officials at the scene and the national union in successfully pursuing justice with the help of leading civil rights solicitor and friend of the NUJ, Chez Cotton.

NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:

“This was very poor and unlawful behaviour by a senior police officer, trying to intimidate a young NUJ photographer. It is not acceptable conduct, has no place in the police force and is hardly likely to gain respect for the police amongst the youth of the UK. The police have now recognised this, apologised and compensated our member. The NUJ will continue to hold the police to account to ensure that the vital rights of journalists, enshrined in law, are upheld, to enable reporting and photographing to continue, as part of the democratic framework of our society.”

Read the full Bindmans statement:

Met Commissioner compensates journalist arrested for taking photographs in public place and told to stop “running round acting silly, being stupid and gay”

 

NUJ demand apology from Nottinghamshire Police

8th December, 2011

The National Union of Journalists is demanding an apology from Nottinghamshire police after video tape was seized from a student videojournalist covering the ‘Occupy Nottingham’ protests.

Update: Union to complain to IPCC over incident

Film & TV student Lewis Stainer in front of the protest camp. photo © Alan Lodge

From the NUJ Nottingham Branch:

Today, the NUJ has written to Nottinghamshire’s chief constable Julia Hodson calling for the apology to be made in person to 20-year-old Lewis Stainer, a student at New College in Nottingham.

Last Friday he was given back his film after it was seized on Monday 21st November by the police for evidential reasons.  Lewis had been filming in the old Market Square for his course project when police made four arrests at the Occupy Nottingham camp. Subsequently two people were charged with offences.

National officials of the NUJ have also decided today to give Lewis Stainer legal support while the union’s legal officers carry out a full investigation into the incident. Lewis who’s studying a BTEC in TV and Film says he wants an apology as well as compensation for the stress and  inconvenience he experienced in having his coursework seized.

The union is increasingly unhappy at the number of problems involving photographers across the country.

Diana Peasey, chair of the Nottingham NUJ branch said ‘we know photographers are under increasing pressure here. They’re often told they can’t photograph crime scenes or face having their camera or material seized by police under section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. It is done all too frequently.’

‘We have our own Police and Media guidelines which the NUJ negotiated with the Nottinghamshire police. Section 7 says specifically:

‘Police officers do not have the authority to prevent a person taking a photograph or to confiscate cameras or film and such conduct could result in criminal, civil, or disciplinary act.’

Ms Peasey said “It is clear that the PACE legislation is overriding the Media guidelines and we need to toughen them up to ensure that the police understand they cannot intimidate photographers and journalists at crime scenes or major incidents.”

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire Constabulary’s Complaints and Misconduct unit is also looking into the incident.

Diana Peasey, chair, Nottingham NUJ branch.

Material ‘acquired or created for the purposes of journalism’ is Special Procedure and protected from seizure in this way under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The London Photographers Branch is strongly against the use of journalistic material as evidence.

Members approached by the police for your material you should contact the NUJ immediately. During office hours you can contact the NUJ Legal Department on 020 7843 3721. If you urgently need help you call the 24hr NUJ emergency legal helpline on 0800 5877530.

Additional coverage: BBC, ITV, Indymedia, Further on IndymediaHTFP

LPB Posts on Seizure of Material:

Journalists not Evidence Gatherers

We Are Press Not Police Intelligence

Protecting Journalistic Material

State and Surveillance: David Hoffman

7th October, 2011

In the July branch meeting David Hoffman spoke on how the Metropolitan Police were deliberately blurring the distinction between dissent and terrorism using Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) together with the Territorial Support Group (TSG), to fill state databases with information on activists and journalists they don’t like.

Here is his slideshow and his talk with an edited version of the Q&A debate afterwards.

Security Guards – Home Office Meeting Report

4th August, 2011

On Friday 15 July LPB and other photography groups attended a meeting with the Home Office and senior police officers from counter terrorism to discuss guidance for security guards and how effective communication could be established between security industry and photographers. Read the rest of this entry »

“We can do anything under the terrorism act”

10th December, 2010

NUJ press release on branch Chair Jess Hurd‘s successful IPCC complaint:

The NUJ has hit out at police claims they ‘can do anything under the Terrorism Act’, following the success of photographer Jess Hurd in a complaint to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC).

Ms Hurd, one of the founders of the ‘I am a photographer, not a terrorist’campaign and Chair of the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch , was stopped by police officers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 whilst filming the wedding reception of a traveller couple in the City of London, as part of an on-going documentary project.

Despite confirming she was a member of the press and showing a valid Press Card she was subjected to a stop and search under the controversial legislation.

Section 44 does not require an officer to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ in order to carry out a search and has now been found by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the grounds that the powers were too broadly drawn and there were inadequate safeguards against abuse.

Following an outcry over the use of the law against professional and amateur photographers the Government has amended the police’s powers pending the outcome of a review of counter-terrorism powers, including the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography.

The IPCC acknowledged that in relation to the suspension of the use of Section 44 “it is cases such as this that have helped in bringing about such changes”.

NUJ Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

“It is an abuse of power that the police acted in this way and we congratulate Jess for challenging them and helping to bring pressure to bear to get these powers scrapped”.

Ms Hurd’s solicitor Chez Cotton said:

“It is critical that the police are not allowed to use very serious counter-terrorism measures as a general stop and search provision as has happened in my client’s case and has happened in many other cases involving NUJ members and amateur photographers alike. The use, or threatened use, of terrorism powers against journalists has had a chilling effect on their ability to report freely and without fear of arrest.  The current review of key counter terrorism and security measures must be used to ensure any powers given to the police cannot be misused in an arbitrary and discriminatory way, otherwise such powers will not enjoy the support or confidence of the public.”
NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:

“We welcome the IPCC’s findings in Jess Hurd’s favour. These events should never have taken place in the first instance. The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected. It is one of the essential elements of a democratic society that journalists are entitled to inform the public, which itself is entitled to be informed. In addition the police should not store information on journalists who are doing their job and have committed no crime.”

NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said:

“NUJ member Jess Hurd was detained for more than 45 minutes by police during a wedding in London’s Docklands, her camera was forcibly removed and she was told the police can do anything under the Terrorism Act. The NUJ believes legislation should not be abused and no journalist should be singled out by the police. The police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographer’s work. The NUJ will continue to take action in support of our members when they are targeted by police, we welcome the judgment from the IPCC especially the acknowledgement that the use of stop and search powers are not seen as fair or effective.”

The complaint made by Ms Hurd:

Police officers, who were aware that a wedding reception was taking place at the hotel in London Docklands, and had seen Ms Hurd filming guests as they were leaving, approached her to see ‘what she was doing’.

Although Ms Hurd could see no legitimate reason for their interest, she wished to co-operate and resolve matters swiftly, and explained to the officers that she had been professionally engaged to cover the wedding and was an accredited photojournalist.

She offered her Press Card so that her credentials could be checked by the police, there being in force nationally agreed Guidelines between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and media organisations (see resources at the end of the press release).  Each accredited NUJ member has a unique PIN number and photographic ID, and the police have access to a 24 hour ‘hotline’ that they can call to verify the personal details and identity of a legitimate member of the press. The Guidelines set out that the police will recognise the holder of a valid Press Card, issued by the UK Press Card Authority Limited, as ‘a bona fide news gatherer’.

The Guidelines are comprehensive and should be known and followed by all police officers.

A second officer, aware of Ms Hurd’s status as a journalist and that her footage had been obtained through legitimate journalistic activity, said he wished to view the film.  He said she was being stopped under ‘Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act’.

Ms Hurd protested that she was clearly a journalist and as the footage was professional they could not interfere.  Ms Hurd was then told that she could have been ‘doing hostile reconnaissance’, although this was entirely at odds with the circumstances confirmed by Ms Hurd and supported by the evidence of the reality of the situation.

Ms Hurd’s camera was forcibly taken from her by the officer, despite her protests that there were safeguards in place to ensure a free press. The officer’s response was: “We can do anything under the terrorism act”.

A third officer took the camera and watched footage with a further officer who was still in the police car, some distance from Ms Hurd.  She was fearful that her entire days work could be wiped and was by now feeling intimidated, as she was in a dark car park being questioned in an intimidating way by police officers.

Ms Hurd was informed that she could not use any footage of the police car or police officers and that if she did there would be ‘severe penalties’, although these were not specified.

The officer concluded the matter confirming to Ms Hurd that if she did want to use the footage then she would have to go through the Metropolitan Police press office, as it was ‘his copyright’, and, although the officers were not undercover at that point, they might be at some point in the future.

In relation to Ms Hurd’s complaint, the IPCC accepted that:

“Arguably with the assistance of hindsight the officers could have handled this incident differently, from a public confidence and satisfaction perspective.”

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.

Branch member wins £30,000 compensation for G20 assault

10th December, 2010

Press release from Bindmans about branch member David Hoffman‘s successful legal action against the police:

The well known and highly respected National Union of Journalist member David Hoffman, who is represented by Chez Cotton, head of the Police Misconduct Department at leading civil rights law firm Bindmans LLP, has received £30,000 damages today from the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

Mr Hoffman was working in a professional capacity covering the G20 protests.  Despite being out of the way and not interfering with any police operation, an inspector in full riot gear ran towards Mr Hoffman and hit him in the face with a shield, fracturing Mr Hoffman’s teeth. As well as paying compensation and the cost of the extensive dental work that has been required, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has also apologised to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and has confirmed the force’s recognition that journalists have a right to report freely.

Mr Hoffman’s solicitor Chez Cotton says:

“Journalists such as my client are critical in disseminating information into the wider public domain. Reporters and photojournalists play a significant role recording political unrest, political events, which includes recording protest and, if it arises, police wrong doing. That my client was assaulted by a police officer when carrying out this essential function, and brutally so, is shocking. Fortunately with photographic and film evidence of the incident and detailed testimony, Mr Hoffman has succeeded in holding the police to account. It is absolutely right that the Metropolitan Police Force has paid significant damages, given an apology and confirmed recognition and respect for a free press.”

The apology from the Metropolitan Police states:

“On 1 April 2009 well-respected social issues photographer David Hoffman was recording the G20 protests in the City of London. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recognise that Mr Hoffman was entitled to report on that day but was caused injury by an MPS officer during the event, preventing him from doing so. The MPS confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS apologise to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and have paid compensation.”

NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:
“David Hoffman suffered very painful injuries as a result of this entirely unnecessary gratuitous and violent assault on him while properly and professionally going about his work. The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected. It is one of the essential elements of a democratic society that journalists are entitled to inform the public, which itself is entitled to be informed. The NUJ has fought for this to be recognised, and is pleased that the Police has now accepted responsibility and properly compensated Mr Hoffman.”

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary said:

“No journalist should be singled out by the police and the police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographer’s work. Journalists have a duty to record and report on public protests as well as the behaviour of the police.  David’s case is a shocking example of police brutality and totally unacceptable. We believe that attacks on working journalists are attacks on democracy and on society’s ability to make informed decisions. The NUJ will continue to take action in support of our members when they are targeted by police.”

Background to the case

Mr Hoffman, a well respected social issues journalist and member of the National Union of Journalists, attended in a professional capacity to report on the G20 protests on 1 April 2009 in the City of London. Throughout the event Mr Hoffman was carrying professional equipment and had his Press Card clearly visible around his neck and was obviously a journalist.

Mr Hoffman took photographs at various sites throughout the day.  At around 4 p.m. police in the Bank area stopped Mr Hoffman and others from moving forward and tried to push everyone back.  However, due to the size of the crowd behind Mr Hoffman there was nowhere to move back to.

After about ten minutes the police intensified their action and started to push Mr Hoffman and the others in the crowd using their shields and batons aggressively, even though there was still nowhere to move back to. Mr Hoffman was standing beside a line of police officers and was for no reason pushed hard by an officer, to one side.

Mr Hoffman saw a space and was anxious to avoid any further trouble.  He moved to one side so that he was further away from the police. Whilst doing this, Mr Hoffman was suddenly hit for no reason with considerable weight in the back by a policeman using his shield. This threw him violently into the back of a man in front of him.

Mr Hoffman moved even further away form the police and was  partly shielded by some builders’ boards.  He remained in this position, out of the way, and watched the events around him with his camera raised, ready to report. He was doing absolutely nothing wrong and was photographing without interfering in any police operation.

A few seconds later a heavily built inspector in full riot gear suddenly left the group of police officers he was with, ran directly towards Mr Hoffman, and deliberately hit him hard in the face with a shield. The shield made contact with great force, causing Mr Hoffman considerable pain and causing one of his cameras to fly round where it was knocked, causing damage to the equipment. Mr Hoffman was shocked and in pain from the shield hitting him and was thrown backwards.

It was subsequently confirmed that Mr Hoffman’s teeth had been fractured.  Mr Hoffman instructed Chez Cotton of Bindmans LLP to act on his behalf and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Proceedings were issued and the claim was settled shortly after the Particulars of Claim were served. The terms of settlement were agreed by Consent between the parties. The Central London County Court sealed the agreement at the beginning of December and the Commissioner of Police has today paid the damages in full.

Contacts for today’s student protests

30th November, 2010

As with previous events the Metropolitan Police have setup a number for journalists covering today’s student protests in Westminster to call if they are having problems with the police, not recognising the UK Press Card etc. The number is 07917 556824.

NUJ members can also contact NUJ legal officer Roy Mincoff during office hours on 020 7843 3721. Outside of office hours or in an emergency you can call the 24hr NUJ legal helpline on 0800 5877530.