Monday, February 22, 2010

Photographer films his own 'anti-terror' arrest.

The police promised in early December that they would stop the practice of using Section 44 to question photographers of everyday scenes in cities, including sites of interest to tourists, and Acpo - the Association of Chief Police Officers - sent out an email warning officers to decease this practice.

The strongly worded warning was circulated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) last night. In an email sent to the chief constables of England and Wales's 43 police forces, officers were advised that Section 44 powers should not be used unnecessarily against photographers. The message says: "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."
However, the Guardian are this morning showing the footage taken by an amateur photographer in Accrington while he was being arrested for failing to give his name and address to policemen who thought that his behaviour was "suspicious" as he took footage of everyday scenes in the town centre during the Christmas period.

The photographer, Bob Patefield, is polite throughout, but obviously knows his rights and knows what the police are and are not allowed to do.
Patefield and his friend declined to give their details, as they are entitled to under the act. The police then appeared to change tack, saying the way the men were taking images constituted "antisocial behaviour". Patefield, who is in his 40s, was stopped three times before finally being arrested.
This man was held for eight hours before finally being released without charge. His crime was that he declined to give his name and address to the police, which he is allowed to do under Section 44, but the police then claim that other citizens have been complaining - although the officer who makes this claim admits that no complaint has been made to himself - and suddenly change their reason for questioning him to a matter of "anti-social behaviour", for which he is required to give his name and address.

To be fair the footage does not show Patefield being manhandled in any way, nor are the police impolite or bullying. They simply appear as if they are put out that this man knows the law and they are determined that he is, one way or another, going to give them his details.
The sergeant also alluded to complaints from the public and, turning to Patefield, added: "I'm led to believe you've got a bit of insight into the law. Do you work in the field?"

In a statement, Lancashire police said they and members of the public were "concerned about the way in which [Patefield] was using his camera". It said police felt they had "no choice" but to arrest him because he was refusing to co-operate.

I don't believe for a second that there had been complaints from members of the public. The police were simply put out that someone appeared to understand the law and was refusing to give them his details.

And why in these days of Google Earth the police think terrorists would have to case out Accrington town centre with a video camera is simply beyond me. The whole thing in online anyway.

The video is worth watching.

Watch it here.

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