Feeds

Photocops: Home Office concedes concern

Zooming in on the snapper-stoppers

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

The Home Office has at last conceded that the policing of photographers requires a little more scrutiny.

Tory MP and Assistant Chief Whip John Randall extracted an admission from the Home Office that it was an issue in need of further review. Print Display worker Piers Mason can bear this out, having been stopped and questioned about his photographic activities last week.

As police closed down large sections of the City of London last week in readiness for the G20 protests, Mason was not impressed when police officers asked him to explain why he had taken photos of a TV crew outside the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Bishopsgate Offices.

His unhappy encounter began as he was making his way to work down Bishopsgate at around 9 in the morning. Speaking to The Register, he said: "I saw a film crew setting up outside RBS and thought that would make an interesting picture. The next thing I knew, three police officers approached me and asked me to explain what I was doing. According to them, this was to ‘investigate suspected crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour’."

A quick web search reveals that this particular formulation is one used frequently by Police in connection with Stops under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), either when searching an individual, or when simply asking an individual to account for their actions. According to official guidelines, any stop must be based on reasonable suspicion and not "on generalisations or stereotypical images of certain groups or categories of people as more likely to be involved in criminal activity".

Mr Mason reckons the encounter took around 20 minutes, during which police logged his personal details, checked them against the Police Computer, and finally entered his name and details into a "Stops Database". They then sent him on his way clutching a form that confusingly stated he had been asked to "action per actions". No: we don’t understand what that means either.

Coincidentally, a couple of hours later, John Randall stood up in Parliament to catalogue a series of incidents in which police or Community Support Officers had stopped individuals taking photographs in the street and required them to desist or to delete photographs taken. Such a requirement, if true, would be unlawful and possibly open the police officer in question to criminal charges.

"This does appear to be a growing problem, resulting mostly from over-zealous policing," Randall told us. "The fact that several other members have raised the issue and intervened in the debate suggests that this is not just a matter that affects one London Borough."

In response, Home Office Under-Secretary Shahid Malik agreed that the incidents described were regrettable and that counter-terror legislation was not intended to be used in this way. Section 44 of the Terror Act 2000 gave Police Constables the right to stop and search individuals and vehicles where they believe that such a search is "expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism".

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.