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Another citizen stopped for taking photo's.

As reported in The Grauniad:
One of the country's leading architectural photographers was apprehended by City of London police under terrorism laws today while photographing the 300-year old spire of Sir Christopher Wren's Christ Church for a personal project.

Grant Smith, who has 25 years experience documenting buildings by Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, was stopped by a squad of seven officers who pulled up in three cars and a riot van and searched his belongings under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows police to stop and search anyone without need for suspicion in a designated area.

"Three of them descended on me and said they were here because of reports of an aggressive male," Smith said. "One of them even admired my badge which said 'I am a photographer not a terrorist'. But they searched my bag for terrorist-related paraphernalia and demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I refused. saying that I didn't have to tell them, but they said if I didn't they would take me off and physically search me."

Smith's trouble began when he refused to provide his name and explain what he was doing to a security guard from a nearby Bank of America office. He said he was astonished by the police response, not least the expense of dispatching four vehicles and seven officers.

His experience comes despite a warning last week to all police forces not to use section 44 measures unnecessarily against photographers. In a circular to fellow chief constables, Andy Trotter, of British Transport police, said: "Officers and community support officers are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos. Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional, is unacceptable."

In the past 18 months there have been 94 complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the misuse of section 44 powers. There is a growing outcry among working photographers who are finding their daily routines interrupted by police searches when working in high-profile areas that may be considered terrorist targets.

City of London police said its response to Smith had been proportionate. "When questioned by officers, the man declined to give an explanation and he was therefore informed that in light of the concerns of security staff and in the absence of an explanation, he would be searched under the Terrorism Act," said a spokesman. "After the man's bag was searched, he explained he was a freelance photographer taking photos of buildings. Once this explanation was received there was no further action."

I would point out to that fine example of a spokesperson from City of London police that their actions are hardly proportionate, come on what was it tea break time at the station? Three cars and a riot van and seven officers, a bit bored were we? So would would have been a non proportionate response, bringing the police dogs? An armed unit?....

Also as this shows under Section 44, a member of the public doesn't have to provide their name, address, reason for being there or where they are going. 

They do not have to give this if just questioned by an officer either under the more common stop and question.  Maybe the police in the City of London should sit down and have a read of memo Andy Trotter, of British Transport police handed out....

A few more examples of people being stopped by members of the police for taking photo's in public.

4 people have spoken:

Anonymous said...

Clearly they shouldn't be doing this but, as you mention in a previous blog, it means they don't have to fill in the forms. I saw an account of the forms the police have to fill in when they interact with the public, in an excerpt from the famous policeman blog (forgotten name). It was soul destroying. After reading it I wondered how the Police could possibly function and why anybody would do the job. Then I remembered the overtime and the pension.

Fidothedog said...

Very true, also looking at crime stats they have lots of more important things officers can be doing.

I am sure there are plenty of assaults, rapes and even the odd murder that could be putting those officers, the three cars and wagon to good use.

banned said...

"demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I refused. saying that I didn't have to tell them" Good for him.

Anon, you might mean Nightjack whose work has been archived here


Fidothedog said...

Feck, forgot to link in Nightjack, cheers banned.