Police detain teenager for photographing Armed Forces Day parade


Video also available on YouTube here.

A young man was detained by police for allegedly causing a breach of the peace, while photographing an Armed Forces Day parade in Romford on Saturday.

Part-time photojournalist Jules Mattsson, 16, from Hackney writes on his blog:

The incident started when I took an image (not a very good one it seems) of a Police Cadet unit forming up to take part in an Armed Forces Day parade. I was quickly and aggressively stopped by one of their adult officers asking me who I worked for. I responded that I was a freelance and upon being told I needed parental permission to photograph them, I explained this was a public event in a public place and that I didn’t for editorial use.

She then demanded my details and when I declined, I was quickly pulled aside by police officers. Then started recording, see below for the rest.

I had my lens covered while trying to photograph my harassment , then told ‘I consider you a threat under the terrorism act’ for photographing a police officer, had my camera taken from around my neck, was detained and frog marched away before being pushed down some stairs and told they were concerned for my safety.

Jules repeatedly asked police which law police were detaining him under, to which the officer replied, “We don’t have to have a law.” Another officer told him he was considered a threat under the Terrorism Act.

Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act raised serious concerns among photographers when it came into force last year.

Other onlookers at the parade in Romford were taking photos and videos unchallenged. Indeed, by taking part in such a parade, cadets would have given permission to be photographed.

The Metropolitan Police have now issued this statement:

It is clearly not the intention of the MPS to prevent people from taking photographs, although, as the public would expect, officers will remain vigilant, particularly in crowded public places.

Any allegations or complaints about police treatment of photographers are taken very seriously by the MPS. Anyone who is unhappy with the actions of individual police officers can make a formal complaint, which will be thoroughly investigated.

Although at this time we have not received a complaint about this incident and no allegations of crime have been made, we will investigate the circumstances.

Our officers do receive guidance around the issue of photography through briefings and internal communications and we continue to drive this work forward.

You can also read the Independent’s report here.

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30 Comments

  • Paul McKeown 28th Jun '10 - 7:13pm

    What a bunch of holes. I hope that this parliament give thuggish Neanderthals within the Met a severely heavy boot. As it is, the police have clearly lied several times within this 9 minutes of nonsense. They have also restricted movement and trade and abused the Counter Terrorism Act. There should be disciplinary consequences.

  • Appalling and utterly unacceptable.

    And it is not enough for the MPS to talk about their complaints process after the fact. It is no good receiving an apology months later if the deprivation of freedom has already been suffered – particularly if as in this case the victim relies on photography for his living.

    Met Police officers should never be allowed to believe that they have the right or the power to break the law in this way in the first place. There is too much reliance on the appeals process as if it were a substitute for the fair application of the law in the first place.

  • Silent Hunter 28th Jun '10 - 7:24pm

    Some one should DO SOMETHING about Labours stormtroopers – The Met!

    They can find time to harass teenagers but can’t manage to arrest obvious sex offenders when the evidence is staring them in the face.

    The Metropolitan Police are bloody useless! They still think their political masters – the Corrupt Labour Party – are still in charge and so they can trample on the rights of the people of this country. . . well the coalition government should call time on them and severely curb their powers.

    I agree that there should be disciplinary action taken against these police officers – for a serving police officer to say “We don’t have to have a law” is completely unacceptable and should be punished.

  • Christine Headley 28th Jun '10 - 7:31pm

    I wish I kept as cool as this ‘young man’ under such provocation! Good for him. I hope he makes good use of that policeman’s number.

  • Andrew Suffield 28th Jun '10 - 7:46pm

    Publishing the story is one thing, but it is very important that he and anybody else who experiences similar things files a complaint with the IPCC and demands a full investigation (they’ll ask you whether you want one, and try to encourage you to let it be handled “internally” with promises of quick resolution, but they do have to investigate properly if you say so).

    There will be no disciplinary action and no other action of any other kind taken unless that complaint is filed. If it is filed, then they’re quite good at correcting these things, although it takes a few months. The system more or less works, but it’s very bureaucratic and encourages victims to stay quiet and not make a fuss. You have to push past that. They can and will sack every officer who does this and rewrite policies to stop it happening again, but only if a complaint is properly filed. No action can or will be taken without a complaint.

  • Tom Parsons 28th Jun '10 - 7:55pm

    there are so many news artcles of photographers being harrased by police that it must be happening very regularly. I doubt that 5% of the incidents gets reported, and peoples rights of freedom are constantly being eroded.

  • Martin Land 28th Jun '10 - 8:11pm

    I think we should appreciate the efforts of libertarians in the Met to put into perspective the need for changes in police powers.

  • If a single one of the police officers on this is still, as of this evening a member of the Metropolitan Police, then every single one of the senior officers of the Metropolitan Police should be sacked. No payoffs, no pensions, no nothing. This has got to stop.

  • “It is clearly not the intention of the MPS to prevent people from taking photographs, although, as the public would expect, officers will remain vigilant, particularly in crowded public places.”

    Vigilant for what?

    (Completely off topic did protestors really demand a citizens arrest of Ed Balls for “voting for the Iraq war”? The trots must have got even madder in recent years!)

  • Paul McKeown 28th Jun '10 - 11:13pm

    @Kehaar

    I object strongly to the abuse of CCTVs as well. And I suspect that the overwhelming majority of LDs do to. And libertarian Conservatives in the coalition, too.

  • Paul McKeown 28th Jun '10 - 11:25pm

    @Kehaar
    If you look at https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-who-do-we-want-to-win-the-labour-leadership-election-19925.html you will see that I wrote:

    I have vague memories a few years ago of some hooha about some couple or other being threatened with prosecution for indecency. What had happened was that some company had stuck a CCTV camera on top of a ruddy great pole, which just happened to allow one of their security people to peer over this couple’s tall hedge. Lo and behold, they were engaged in some al fresco naughties, which seemed to offend this security man’s sense of propriety so greatly that instead of enjoying the free show on offer, he felt instead that he had to complain to the authorities. Perversely enough some tabloid feigned outrage, not at the shocking invasion of the couple’s privacy, but that they should be at it like rabbits outside of the matrimonial bedroom. Happily the fuss all quickly died down, and no doubt the sensible course of action was followed, security man told to mind his own business the next time. But what is worrying is that instead of drawing sensible conclusions on such matters, I watched Andy Burnham attempting to defend this intrusive proliferation of CCTV cameras. No one is arguing that they are not necessary, no one is arguing that a shopping centre shouldn’t be allowed to deter shoplifting and bag snatching, but what is clearly of concern is when those selfsame shopping centres insist on pointing those cameras outside of their own properties. Similar concerns apply to those placed by local authorities on our streets. Stringent guidelines are needed, which private citizens can enforce in court when they are not followed. That Andy Burnham – and many others in the Labour party – cannot see that the civil liberties were sorely abused during the previous 13 years of Labour government is of concern. Indeed reading Labour leaning publications, one is struck by how many Labour types just don’t get it. I was dumbfounded by the comment given by one such on LabourList, strongly emphasizing that Labour was not a libertarian party and should take an authoritarian line.

  • Paul McKeown 29th Jun '10 - 1:06am

    Kehaar, demonstrating the Scot’s Nats amazingly ability to hold two mutually contradictory positions at one time:

    I wonder how many [rightly] objecting to this also oppose CCTVs cameras.

    CCTV cameras are not juju magic which would steal your soul.

    Or is it just Interrant contrarianism? Who cares? Go on, squackhawk, have a fight all on your own! I’m off now.

  • Michael Seymour 29th Jun '10 - 9:47am

    This was an outrageous event, the Metropolitan Police are plainly out of control and are operating exactly like the police in a fascist state. The person who was being assaulted by the police clearly knew the law, the policemen who was responsible for this assault clearly did not and refused to answer. Finally quoting the ant-terrorism law, which was also used against a young woman reading aloud the names of soldiers killed in the Iraq war. It was also used against an 80 year old member of the Labour Party, when he shouted ‘Rubbish!’ at a speech made by Jack Straw. We are I’m afraid, becoming a fascist state.

  • Michael Seymour 29th Jun '10 - 5:03pm

    I fear Mr Kehaar is missing the point, we are becoming a fascist state with such draconian actions for obviously minor offences. It is a bullying misuse of the use of power.

    The incident with the young photographer is clearly recorded, both visually and aurally. There is no mistake there, he was being bullied by a man in a uniform, who did not have a law to support him.

    I always photograph policemen at demonstration, they have nothing to fear as long as they behave themselves. As for Jack Straw he deserved to be heckled.

    Please do not refer to the law to condone official bullying.

  • Michael Seymour 29th Jun '10 - 8:54pm

    I worry about you, I think you are missing the point. If you support these restrictions without question you are moving in a dangerously right wing area. I think you have not thought these things through.

  • But why did Walter Wolfgang need to be (wrongly) arrested under the the terrorism act? Why did they simply not eject him from the Conference in the same way some football fans are ejected by stewards from football grounds?

  • Michael Seymour 29th Jun '10 - 10:39pm

    Not really I think you are right, we should not continue this discussion, life’s too short.

  • Rather conveniently, Master Mattsson’s video begins after the incident for which police intervened. He initiated this reaction by holding his camera very closely to the faces of the cadets who were formally lined up. Unsure of his intentions, police quite rightly removed him from the situation. Mattsson should have been arrested under the Public Order Act. Causing harassment/alarm/distress… I wonder if Master Mattsson would react with such dignity should he be approached in a similar manner. Screaming for police, I imagine.

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