Friday 2 July 2010

The Met and photography: it’s happened yet again

In the audio recording, when asked by Mr Mattsson what law police were using to detain him and ask for details, one officer replies: “We don’t have to have a law.”

The 16-year-old continues to argue his case, informing the officers that he has a right to photograph in public places and asks whether he can get back to work. Instead he is told by a second officer that he is now “considered a threat under the Terrorism Act” and escorted away from the parade. Mr Mattsson claims he was then pushed down a set of four concrete stairs and detained until the parade passed.

The incident in Romford came just 24 hours after the force was forced to pay compensation to two photojournalists for a similar incident. Marc Vallee and Jason Parkinson took civil action against the Met after they had their camera equipment grabbed by officers in December 2008 while reporting on a protest outside the Greek Embassy.

In the words of a legal blogger:

There is no realistic check on exercises of police power, or even sheer exercises of power with no actual basis in police law.

It is almost impossible to bring a civil action against the police; prosecutions are exceptional and rarely successful; the independent complaints regime has little if any credibility; and even public criticism will be met with the threat of a libel claim.

And so, without any practical limits,
the police can just do what they want.

There’s a photographers’ flashmob outside New Scotland Yard

at 12 noon, this Sunday 4th July (Independence Day!) Come along and lets celebrate a little more freedom for photographers.