Meeting with NUJ, EPUK & G4S re photography at the Olympic Park
John Toner (NUJ), David Hoffman (EPUK), Adam Mynott (G4S)
Headland House May 10, 2012
Following the incident on 21 April 2012 where two G4S security staff assaulted me and other photographers working on public land outside the Olympic Park John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser arranged a meeting with Adam Mynott, G4S Director of Media Relations and me, David Hoffman, wearing my (white) EPUK Moderator hat.
The meeting started on a positive note with Mynott apologising for the actions of the guards who he described as having “behaved wrongly” and having “acted incorrectly”. We were particularly concerned by two comments that the guards’ supervisor made. She had said:
“We are told we should refrain people from taking photos” and “It his job to basically approach people and deter them from taking photographs of the secure area.”
Mynott told us that this was not how G4S trained their guards and, specifically, that “photography was not to be discouraged in any way at all” and it was NOT their job to approach and deter photographers He was quite clear that there should be no interference at all to photographers working on public land and that the guards had been reminded of this following the April incident.
Adam Mynott told us that they were recruiting 10,000 staff for the Olympics and that there was a structured training programme. No member of staff would have less than 4 days training and some would have up to 14 days. All their training was to SIA approved standards and the security guards were SIA accredited. We were assured that the training was running well, was on schedule and not being rushed.
Mynott told us that he was aware of the National Press Card and that his staff were trained on it and on how to recognise a UKPCA card. John Toner gave him some UKPCA posters to help in training.
We asked about the presence of guards on public land. Mynott assured us that the security guards should only operate within the Olympic Park border, that they should not have left the Olympic Park in the April incident and that they would be reminded of this.
I mentioned that Jason Parkinson had twice been stopped recently on the public road outside the Olympic Park by security guards in an SUV. Mynott could not adequately explain that and we will be following this up as it directly contradicts the assurances we had been given.
We asked if G4S could provide a map showing what land was public and what was the Olympic Park. He will try to arrange that.
We were particularly keen to have a 24/7 hotline direct to G4S senior management as a way of resolving problems, rather than having to resort to the police. Adam Mynott suggested we use his mobile number (this will be available on the members’ area of this site).
It was a friendly and constructive meeting and we got the impression that G4S do genuinely understand the issues and want to avoid making difficulties for us. Whether they are capable of training their 10,000 staff to a standard sufficient to achieve that is yet to be seen.
The May meeting of the London Photographers’ Branch will be Olympic Concerns: Preparing Photographers for London 2012, a discussion and debate with Bindmans Lawyer Chez Cotton.