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.
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