Artist arrested for filming buildings

Police Community Support Officers stopped an Italian art student in London under anti-terrorism legislation, because she was filming buildings “for fun.”

From the Guardian:

Simona Bonomo, 32, an art student at London Metropolitan University, filmed the moment on 19 November when she was approached by two police community support officers (PCSOs) in Paddington, west London.

When Bonomo was challenged by one PCSO, she said she was filming “just for fun”. He replied: “You like looking at those buildings do you? You’re basically filming for fun? I don’t believe you.”

Bonomo then declined his request to see what she had filmed. “I can have a look if I want to, if I think it may be linked to terrorism. This is an iconic site,” he replied.

Bonomo then said she was an artist. “You’re an artist? Have you got any proof or any identification?” he said. After accusing Bonomo of being cocky, the PCSO said she had been cycling the wrong way down a one-way street and threatened to fine her. After she apologised, the PCSOs departed, but returned moments later with about six police officers, she said.

She was searched and, after an altercation with one officer, was accused of being aggressive, bundled to the ground and arrested. The PCSOs were not involved in the arrest. After five hours in a police cell, Bonomo said she was told to sign an £80 fixed penalty fine for a public order offence. She plans to contest the penalty, which stipulated she caused “harassment, alarm and distress” in public.

See the Guardian for the full story, including an interview with Ms Bonomo.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Simply disgusting! The PCSOs and arresting officers should be brought before a court to explain their actions. I hope Ms Bonomo acquires a good solicitor and takes legal action. The sad fact of the matter is that these situations are an incredibly common occurrence… yet they say we’re not living in a police state. Whilst the Police must be allowed to do their job, legislation should more carefully control what is and is not acceptable to avoid abuse… sadly, the intention of our Government is to encourage public fear and the abuse of police powers.

  • Welcome to Labour’s Britain. Now move along.

  • Andrew Suffield 16th Dec '09 - 8:20pm

    With evidence like this, it’s going to be a straight shot to an unlawful arrest claim. Assuming she pursues this properly, there will be an investigation, which will result in all those officers responsible being given “written warnings” or “words of advice”, and she’ll get a compensation offer for something around £10k-£100k.

    And then in three months we’ll be hearing that it’s happened again. We need a better solution.

  • Absolutely appalling. It makes me want to head out and start filming everything.

  • Yet again the police are up to their old tricks. This is the thin end of the wedge that allows them to murder Brazilians on the tube with impunity.

    I detest them. You have to have a personality disorder to even WANT to be in the filth, let’s face it.

  • ted whittiker 17th Dec '09 - 7:15am

    Who cares whether they asked her why she was filming? Big deal.Why is this national news? Why does she bring the CCTV up during the conversation when it has no relevance? . No doubt she was salivating when the journalists came knocking on her door

  • PCSOs need to go. They should be got rid of. Immediately. They are no use for anything and they are allowed to behave like this. Then we need thorough reform of the police to make sure that no-one is allowed to think for a second that they can treat the public like this. We need to make sure that anyone who does is fired immediately.

  • The idea of “ID” for an artist would be laughable if it was’t so worrying. I also find it offensive that the PCSO is chewing throughout the initial conversation.

  • Please please please PCSOs, PCs stop and search more people, police dogs sniff more groins !!! I’ve had it to the eyeballs with this anti security, anti surveillance rhubarb as if its a major insult to civil liberties. Who gives a toss ? .It was clear from the video that most of the attitude came from Ms Bonomo

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Dec '09 - 4:30pm

    They are no use for anything

    Hold up there, they do have their uses. The original point of PCSOs was that they could handle littering, dog fouling, traffic confusion, the late-night wave of vaguely disorderly drunks who need reminding to go home, and general patrols (on a “be seen, call in anything you spot, and stay out of the way” system). All the minor stuff that is otherwise a waste of time for skilled offices.

    The problem is that somewhere along the line, they started acting like real police officers, which they have neither the knowledge nor training for. I suspect budget cuts and political pressure may be involved. Regardless of the cause, it needs to change.

  • Joe Taylor Condliffe 17th Dec '09 - 5:32pm

    Here’s a modest proposal. Would it not be a lot more honest and open if the Labour Government simply introduced an offence of “pissing off a police officer?”

    For that’s clearly what she’d ACTUALLY been arrested for.

    Are the Met not even slightly embarrassed when their coppers and PCSOs throw their weight around like this?

  • that reminds me of one of these PCSOs once after I nearly hit a woman who crossed the road without looking when I was cycling. I actually apologised because I’m not as courageous as Ms Bonomo, but he put his finger on my face and looking into my eyes said ‘Think about it!’. He was ready to push it further, he provoked me and he touched me, but had I tried to deffend myself, I would have ended up in a cell most likely. And I hadn’t done anything wrong at all. And that goes unrecorded and unreported. How many more?

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