Monday, June 22, 2009

Offences, Criminal and Disciplinary

Imagine wanting to publicly criticise the government (tricky I know...). Now imagine being told that you couldn't do so unless you consented to be photographed and videoed whilst doing so. Imagine too that the people carrying out this overt and intimidating surveillance took steps to conceal their identities. Imagine further that, when asked to identify themselves, the photographer's associates grabbed your throat, tied your arms behind your back and wrestled you to the floor before locking you up for four days.

West Yorkshire police officers, carrying out "Forward Intelligence" at a climate change demonstration did exactly this to Val Swain and Emily Apple on the 8th of August last year. What is more, they videoed themselves doing so. The two women locked up for four days before being released without any charge. Now the Guardian has the FIT's own video of the incident and serious questions are being asked[1].

The officers in charge may wish to refer to the annual review of anti-terrorism legislation recently completed by Lord Carlile QC, whose [PDF] report said:

"It should be emphasised that photography of the police by the media or amateurs remains as legitimate as before, unless the photograph is likely to be of use to a terrorist. This is a high bar. It is inexcusable for police officers ever to use this provision to interfere with the rights of individuals to take photographs...

"Police officers who use force or threaten force in this context run the real risk of being prosecuted themselves for one or more of several possible criminal and disciplinary offences."


[1] Unfortunately they're being asked of the Independent [sic] Police Complaints Commission. The same IPCC that, in conjunction with the City of London Police, issued a series of "move along now, nothing to see here" press releases anout the death of Ian Tomlinson after an assault by a policeman.

The same IPCC that had to do a reverse ferret over whether or not there was CCTV footage of that policeman assaulting Ian Tomlinson shortly before he died.

The same IPCC that tried to put and end to the Guardian's investigation of that same event by complaining that the paper was "doorstepping" Mr Tomlinson's family.

"The deputy editor-in-chief who met him declined and pointed out that the Tomlinson family at that moment were in another part of the building, talking to Paul Lewis, the reporter who had driven the story, and publicly thanking the paper for its help." (Nick Davies, The Guardian, 27 April 2009.

The investigation into Ian Tomlinson's death is now being lead by the IPCC.

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