It seems that the mets' approach is nobody can film or photograph us, but we can film or photograph whoever we want. They really haven't moved on since the sixties have they?
The Met Police were making a spectacle of themselves again last week both in front of the camera and behind it. That, at least, appears to be the conclusion to be drawn from one unfortunate incident and one court ruling. According to a news report by the NUJ London Photographers' Branch, Carmen Valino, a journalist on …
...my mum was a junior solicitor (if that's the right word) at the Crown Prosecution Service in the late 1970s. According to her, it was bloody impossible to get a conviction against people accused of armed robbery at that time even if they'd been arrested in front of a bank with shotguns in front of witnesses and signed a confession saying "it's a fair cop, guv".
Why? Because public confidence in the police was so low at that time that no jury would believe anything that any Flying Squad officer had told the court when they were on the stand.
She left the CPS to do something more useful to society: high society divorces...
""We suggested that in a week when issues of how the police interact with the public were particularly sensitive - following the decision not to prosecute Ian Tomlinson last week,""
Apparently it's hard to get convictions for "Dieing and Inconveniencing an Officer Of The Law" these days, who knew.
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Because its easier to give grief for normal people that to make an effort to catch the criminals. Don't forget, the tickbox targets approach to policing still hasn't been revoked by the new gov'm't, so they can use these arrests in place of actually trying to catch proper criminals to hit their targets.
Actually, they have..
You'll find, however, that a large number of police forces across the country have flat-out refused to obey this order from the Home Office, and are carrying on doing their own thing.
It's because the properly nasty people all wear uniforms and badges and are these lot. Eek-gads man, investigating crimes is far too difficult so you need privacy destroying information trawling privileges and DNA databases so the culprits simply have to hand themselves in.
I often wonder whether Sherlock Holmes could ever have been dreamed up in the modern day. It'd be a bloody imaginative author to come up with the concept of serving and protecting the public, investigating crimes and hunting down criminals using intelligence (not the kind taken with a camera at a rally).
Somebody is prepared to point out that the king isn't wearing any clothes. Somebody who occupies a neutral position of authority. Next step is to make covering up or removing shoulder ID when working an 'instant sacking' offence and perhaps the police will go back to serving the interests of the people rather than the state.
The numbers on the slides are visible from a small range of angles, which may be obscured in situations where it wuold be desirable to know which officer is in the picture.
The range of numbers is small, and a bar code woven into the fabric by a Jacquard process, or printed on or constructed with reflective tape or %_technical_means that wrapped around the whole slide would be readable wherever the edges of the slides could be distinguished.
Why no lightbulb icon?
I watched the Andrew Maar show in the weekend and they had the president of the ACPO on there. And the main points he wanted to make amounted to "Think of the childre, CHEOP is great" and he wanted the police on the street to be about to make up their own minds even more and rest assured that they would back him if he happened to make a mistake. I couldn't beleive my ears, he's not learnt a thing about the change on Government.
We need more court cases where the judge slaps the police down.
That journalist and her newspaper should commence litigation against the police for deleting the photos on her camera: they're not allowed to do that.
It's about time the Police were put in their place and made to realise their job is to enforce the law, to comply with the law, not to do as they see fit.
Either way, time to prosecute them.
The only way these bad coppers are going to learn is when it costs them jail time. So far, all we've seen is fines (paid by the taxpayer to the taxpayer) and compensation (paid by the taxpayer).
Until the 'bad eggs' responsible for these flagrant breaches of the public trust are held individually and personally responsible, they will continue to destroy the excellent reputation our police force used to have, one incident at a time.
Which is a terrible shame, because the vast majority of policemen and policewomen are brave people doing a difficult job.
It's a shame that these good people still appear to feel the need to cover up for the illegal, violent and frankly vicious behaviour of a minority of their colleagues, which is bringing the entire Force into disrepute and making their job so much more difficult than it should be.
If that continues, it won't be long before juries won't convict on the basis of police evidence, witnesses won't come forward, and riots will become more commonplace and more violent.
My message to the good coppers - shop the bad ones. It will make your job easier and the streets a *lot* safer.
...but the CPS.
"In court, the prosecution argued that anyone regularly attending or organising protests should expect to be of the interest to the state."
That has to be one of the most chilling things I have ever heard from a Government official. I imagine it's always gone on (albeit sometimes illegally), but the dropping of the *pretence* that it never happens is just frightening.
".....as much or as little right as anyone else to be taking pictures, and therefore no right to complain when they were obstructed."
Now that's been cleared up, next time you get the hump with someone taking pics of you at work, just get two of the lads to stand in front of 'em with a banner reading: "Get stuffed!". That way nobody gets hurt and everyone's happy.
Curiously, one of the three wasn't arrested outside the Pullen Centre, but much later in Parliament Square, when he went to to collect his bike after the Bush demonstration.
It was suggested to one witness at the appeal, that if he didn't want to be photographed, perhaps he should stay at home instead of attending events likely to be photographed.
It was also suggested that everyone was potentially a troublemaker, until the police knew they weren't.
It seems that photographing people attending a meeting is either intimidation, or trying to say meeting + trouble = conspiracy. This particular meeting had nothing to do with the demonstration later that day.
One police officer at another event earlier in the year, said not to photograph him as he "had sensitive eyes" (using flash)
...the police clearly demonstrate that they have no respect for the law nor for the populace, and they also clearly consider themselves to be above the law.
When are we, the people, going to make it clear that they police WITH OUR CONSENT, and unless they buck their ideas up, more and more are going to continue to withdraw that consent.
Anon, obviously, 'cos I don't want Plod and his thugs bashing my door down at 2am for daring to disagree...
DISCLAIMER - I am not involved with any police force nor am I related to anyone working with the police in any capacity. With that out of the way...
Mr Anonymous - I see your point, unbalanced though it is. The police department need to practice what they preach and uphold the law and freedoms they say they defend. They need to work within the law and when they do not this starts looking really badly on them. Of course, that is why we have the Courts and have seen it desirable to balance the power in this democracy between all three pillars of government.
However... this "police with consent" bit. I do not remember passing through Customs when immigrating to this fine land and signing a form giving The Met permission to police. They are there to enforce the law as passed by Parliament. And, I assure you, if the police department failed in that obligation or crumbled into ineffectiveness, an equally “badly behaved” and/or “poorly managed” equivalent organisation would crop up.
Why? Because people like to be protected, to get things done and to see progress over time. All of this required order. Order requires rules. Rules require enforcement. No enforcement equals anarchy. Anarchy is not clever.
So the enforcement must stay, whether it is deemed good or bad, effective or ineffective, liked or disliked. And when individuals within the police get it wrong, we hold them to account – as the Courts have done. This is significantly different than “withdrawing consent” to one of the pillars that support democracy.
Actually, I think you misunderstood - Policing with consent as in there are a hell of a lot more public than police officers - And the law is only useful so long as a large percentage of the population agrees to abide by it.
If everyone who isn't a police officer decided to get up tomorrow and do something illegal, the police would have no hope whatsoever of stopping even a tiny fraction of the crimes
Thus we are policed by our own consent - Not of the individual but of the country as a whole.
What worries me is that it feels like an ever-increasing portion of the public has come to distrust and/or fear the police - usually through witnessing/hearing about their abuse of power.
What we have to avoid is reaching a tipping point where there is NOT general consent for policing. Personally, I think this would be a lot easier to avoid if the police saw their role differently - Personally, I don't care about quotas and paperwork, I want them to catch serious criminals starting with the most violent crimes first, rather than manufacturing some weak excuses to get the arrests/stats they need.
Police with consent - yes, that is exactly what the position is.
Let me give you a simple (extreme, but that's to make it simple) example to illustrate.
suppose all 60 million inhabitants of the UK decided, en masse, one day that they'd had enough to the police continuing to flout the law with impunity and decided to ignore the police and the courts completely.
How, exactly, do you think the police woudl control all 60 million of us?
Simple answer - they woudl not have a hop in hell.
The only reason they CAN is because of the consent of society as a whole to abide by the rules and to allow the police to police us.
The police occasionally talk of no-go areas in some cities - no-go purely because there are enough elements in those areas who do not "consent" to the rule of law and the authority of the police. Consent withdrawn, no policing can take effect.
Now, I suspect the vast majority currently support the police, but as the police continue to flout and break the law, and get off with it time after time after time (see de Menezes, Tomlinson, countless bully-police unlawfully impeding photographers, etc etc, all without repercussions in law), support for the bullies, sorry, police is going to wane.
Yes, the police are supposed to uphold the law and be the guardians of the law - that only works if they show they do not regularly consider themselves to be above those same laws. In that, they are currently lacking.
If the law-abiding public generally cooperates with plod, plod can do his/her job effectively, i.e. they are able to police. The public are consenting to their doing so.
If the public don't trust the cops, they won't cooperate and may even actively resist policing efforts. Implicit non-consent, making PC Plod's job difficult if not impossible. Hard to investigate a crime when the general public won't tell you anything and the less civil members of society are lobbing half-bricks at your head just for being in the area.
Seems to me the best course of action might have been for the photographer to refuse to delete the images, get themselves arrested for it, come quietly down to the station, then - very publicly - sue for wrongful arrest while making the point that in times of austerity and the search for financial efficiency 'compensation' is a very dirty word which the police would do well to remember when 'interpreting' the law.
Images are one of 2 things, either they have been lawfully created and no offence has been commited, or they are unlawful and constitute evidence. If lawful then the police (or anyone else other than the owner of the images) have no right to delete them and if unlawful the police have a duty to preserve them as evidence of an offence.
Remember also that there is plenty of software available to recover deleted images from memory cards.
Depends on how they go about it. Using certain software (freely available online from Seagate, though originating with Maxtor), you actually can obliviate data to the point that not even companies specialised in restoring overwritten data can restore it.
Given the completely amateurish way the London Mets are going about their job, though, I doubt anybody there is even aware that such software exists.
Plus, given my current portfolio, if this were to happen to me, I would have to sue the officers in charge for about 80 lb per hour for the time I need to re-create the shots they deleted, plus set-up costs.
Whenever anyone talks of "police state" it is quickly put down by many but the Metropolitan Police do seem to be a law unto themselves and pay little attention to what the real law is or what the courts and government tell them to do.
It is about time that someone in authority makes an attempt to take control again and make the Metropolitan Police stick to the law and rules.
In the Army they called this sort of activity, going against orders, Dumb Insolence.
Photographers should either use cell cameras or regular cameras which transmit their pictures to a nearby colleague by Bluetooth.
It's strange how camera shy the police are all over the world, the local Plod here in VietNam having pulled me over to collect their rent donation suddenly get excited when they observe my helmet cam and usually order me to leave immediately!
P.S. The woman should have gone for the handcuffs as the offending officer would have one hell of a lot of paperwork to complete!
Very true, but to be fair the new Government has had less than thirteen weeks to undo thirteen years' worth of State abuse by Labour. There are still plenty of Stalinist fuckpigs out there in positions of power, and even when they've been put out to grass, it;ll take a while for the change in attitude to filter down the ranks.
Every time I read an article like this, it makes me a little more tempted to move to somewhere like Tristan da Cunha.
Without firm and rigourusly enforced rules and regulations and strictly written laws this kind of abuse is inevitable.
The stanford prison experiment highlights what happens when you give people power over other people with little control http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment
I'm sure a number of officers join intending to be good upstanding people but the job itself lends to corruption and where you have law enforcment units that are allowed to do what they want more or less (like that old unit that got dispanded) or a whole bank of laws that are supposed to be "interpreted" (as the last government was keen on) then these kinds of things are going to happen more and more.
Especially when the enforcment of rules and the allocation of punishment is so lacks (they know they can get away with it, even on the off chance they do get caught it'll probably get brushed under the carpet.)
It seems the police senior ranks never learn that coppers will make mistakes. Dark, scary locations, bad people, lots going on - of course mistakes will be and are made. But why do the senior cops (the ones who never leave their offices) fail to say "Oops - we got it wrong. We apologise for this and will try, as far as we are able, to put it right". Instead we have the drivel that is "policy" or a casual and ill-informed interpretation of the law. In a free country the citizen can do things which the authorities may or may not like. We can pretty much go where we want and say or do what we want when we get there. In a police state, there would be CCTV cameras all over the place, the state would release personal information to anyone on demand (private parking enforcement anyone?) and ban taking photos in public places. Hmmm....
Image #74040573 (from 1 May 2007) at www.gettyimages.co.uk, shows one of the people acquitted at the recent appeal having his collar felt (literally) by the long arm of the law. The photo wasn't allowed to be used in court as Getty did not respond to a request to authenticate it. The officer said in court that his hand "might" have slipped up to the defendant's neck.
And the offence: failure to leave the area of Canary Wharf without questioning the command. The Getty site & the excellent My London Diary have further pictures of the arrest and use of "pain compliance" (Acquitted, on appeal, of whatever the charge was.)
The officer with the "sensitive eyes" mentioned in my previous post took umbrage when it was suggested that attempting to snatch someone's camera constituted "reckless behaviour" within the meaning of the 1972 Criminal Damage Act, and suggested "Why don't you go home and strangle yourself?"
Which one? The photographer at the crime scene or outside the Pullen Centre?
A lot of things went on...
at the Pullen Centre, as far as I am aware three people held up a banner in front of police photographers. Two were arrested, I am told (fairly reliably) at the time, and the third was arrested in Parliament Square between 8-9pm when he went to collect his bike - one of the officers present in the morning was in Parliament Square, although he did not actually carry out the arrest (fear of form filling?). This person was held in cells overnight - for holding up a banner!
Were any of these three charged with any other offences "committed" later in the day at the Bush protest? (Remember that the morning meeting was not connected with the "Bush" demonstration)
I think not - I know for a fact that one definitely wasn't, and the other two may well have spent the afternoon at a police station, which would have made committing an offence rather difficult.
So was there any penalties handed out against the cops? I didn't see any in TFA. A judge's opinion is useless w/o penalties to back it up, otherwise it's just "oh you bad man! stop robbing banks! now go home and behave!"
On this side of the pond, usually people lose jobs over this sort of thing. There's also been lawsuits large enough that cops get laid off because the dept is now too poor to pay them, and in some cases the local force is disbanded.
Its all very well that we repeatedly read these articles on the Register and express our anger and disgust in these comment threads, unfortunately that's highly unlikely to change anything. Furthermore, only a minority of the populace understand that this issue exists: it rarely makes it into mainstream media and when it does its a fleeting article in the broadsheets.
As such the only people who are out there campaigning against these police actions are the minorities, often the extreme left. while these folks are often passionate and determined, they create a poor image with the public of why this is bad. they see it as something that only affects the kind of nut who goes to (often rowdy) protests.
Only when this becomes a national issue, taken up by a mainstream newspaper (probably one of the broadsheets but preferably the times or the telegraph so no-one can say its just the lefty guardian) will we see a true change. What IT aware types such as the commentards which haunt these forums could do would be to harness the power of the web to expedite this. Social media used to create a grassroots voice would help, get the videos and accounts out there and preferably demonstrate it happening to the ordinary citizen not the mouthy lefty FITwatch member (admirable though their work is) but the underpaid nurse, the officer worker, the tourist...
That said, a few judges imprisoning wayward constables on the grounds of contempt of court (their illegal acts are essentially vigilante justice, thus they are disregarding the court's authority, thus they are in contempt) would go along way. And some punitive damages against police forces whenever their officers step out of line would be alright too.
Why was this policeman so eager to delete images of the police at work? According to the linked article he told her she could come back later to take photos, so what did he think she'd captured on camera that he was prepared to break the law to delete?
[Insert tinfoil hat joke here.]
From a single point of view my belief is that the type of people who join the police forces (and the army too) are the bullies and misfits that were 'in your face' at school. Likewise people can turn into nutters over time and end up in the police. I had a friend who was a nice stable guy. He got married. Had kids. We would hang out occasionally. He used to work as an engineer for BT. Then he got separated and divorced. Had trouble seeing his kids. He began turning into a real asshole. Slept around. Showed me photos of his 'conquests'. Eventually I lost contact with him. Until one day I saw him patrolling in police uniform with a bunch of other likely lads. All acting generally like thugs. He pulled me over once. Also pulled my brother over.
IMHO a lot of police 'officers' are a bit broken in the head. I believe you have to have a certain state of mind to be one.
I'm a junior officer in the Army.
The training process, and the hierarchy, of the police and the army are very different. The police don't have a sense of discipline or proportion, and actually have an "us-vs-them" attitude far stronger than the army!
If one of my soldiers acted in this way (breaking the law, ignoring regulations, getting into unnecessary arguments with the locals in the area), either the troop sergeant or myself would have a word, on the spot if possible. If several soldiers did this, I would tell everyone at the next parade (morning or evening) how I expect them to behave. If one soldier was a serial offender, he would have an interview without coffee, be re-assigned if necessary, and it would be noted on his annual report.
This is a very articulate and well-reasoned article on exactly this topic:
because we, the poor dumb mugs at the other end, are reluctant to complain and, when we do, allow it to be dealt with locally, by a word of advice to the officer.
If you are pissed off by the actions of a plod, even if it is just something you see happening to someone else, complain properly, in writing, to anyone who will receive a letter.
My list would now include
The Police Complaints Authority
The Prime Minister
The Home Secretary
and if there was anything even slightly criminal, an information to the Magistrates Court for a private prosecution.
It takes them all so much time and effort to deal with complaints, especially when a higher authority is demanding answers they will soon put pressure to bear on the plod in question.
Having spent 20 years as plod, albeit some time ago, I can assure you that my experience is that those who cause the maximum amount of hassle for them are the ones that are left alone and if they don't, remember they can get 4 years if it amounts to harrassment.
BTW my attitude is founded on the way they failed to deal with incidents that I, and other ex-colleagues, called them to attend long since my retirement.
I found those that did attend a bone idle, lazy, arrogant bunch of thick bastards with no knowledge of the law, no concept of impartiality or fairness. Complaints did lead to suitable action being taken and no come back.
"Without showing legitimate cause to film, the police had as much or as little right as anyone else to be taking pictures, and therefore no right to complain when they were obstructed."
This isn't quite right. Having heard no evidence that the police had a legitimate aim, the judge found that "We cannot be sure the police were acting lawfully and within their duty".
The courts have found infringement of privacy by the state, although sometimes justifiable, to often be a more serious issue than infringement of privacy by private individuals. The judgement and some extracts from the evidence and arguments in the trial are now up on the fitwatch website. Much of the reasoning is explained in the case of Wood v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.