Feeds

North Wales Police institute new happiness law

Content a copper - or else, boyo!

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Police in North Wales are road-testing a new offence: it's called "failing to make a police officer happy".

That, at least, is the conclusion that some viewers might draw from a recording posted earlier this week by biker mag, Motorcycle News (MCN). Penalties for not satisfying the copper contentment quota include possible unlawful seizure of photographic equipment and a stern ticking off.

MCN has been active in organising a Reclaim North Wales rally in Betws-y-Coed, after the local police force admitted to having stopped around 400 motorcyclists every summer weekend, despite the majority of those stopped having committed no offence whatsoever.

The incident took place as a team working for MCN attempted to take pictures of officers parked in a lay-by on the A5 secretly watching thousands of riders heading to the protest rally.

According to MCN, the officers first claimed to be monitoring traffic. However, as soon as they produced a camera, one officer objected on the grounds that he was driving a registered firearms vehicle and that taking a photograph might endanger his safety.

The officer ignored repeated requests that he provide a legal justification for his demand, and when the reporter took a photo of the vehicle, it is alleged that the officer snatched the camera from the reporter’s hands.

The law surrounding this area is still murky. It is possible that the police officer had at the back of his mind the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, a new law under which it is now an offence to elicit or attempt to elicit information about an individual who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s forces, a member of any of the intelligence services or a constable, "which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or publishes or communicates any such information".

A picture containing the registration number of a firearms vehicle might fall into this category. However, the reaction of police forces elsewhere in the UK, as well as official denials that the powers contained in this act would be used in such a broadbrush fashion, suggests this may not be the case.

In London, the Met has asked that photographers co-operate with CO19, the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Firearms Command, by agreeing to pixellate the faces of police marksmen. Head of CO19, Chief Superintendent Bill Tillbrook, claimed that publication of such pictures created a security risk and instanced cases where police who had been identified were subsequently subject to abuse.

In other words, the UK’s largest police force does not believe they have a legal power to prevent publication of such pics, and are relying on co-operation with publishers to achieve a sensible outcome. ACPO guidelines on photography generally do not suggest that the police prevent photography. Rather, the decision as to what to publish is an editorial one and if pictures have been taken that might endanger individual police officers, the matter should be discussed with editors.

El Reg contacted North Wales police and put a number of questions. We asked:

- Could they confirm that the police constable photographed did utter the remarks?

- What lawful grounds did he have for seizing the camera?

- If he has committed an offence, will the police Force be taking action?

- Can they confirm that the vehicle in question was a firearms vehicle – and therefore is that fact classed as sensitive information?

- Might divulging this fact to a journalist not have been a tactical error by the police constable?

- Is this incident not simply a continuation of a pattern of behaviour which has seen North Wales police already accused of making the law up and acting unlawfully in respect of bikers?

So far, we have received no response. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
US Supreme Court supremo rakes Aereo lawman in oral arguments
Antenna-array content streamers: 'Ruling against us could dissipate the cloud'
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.