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04-13-2009, 02:32 PM   #1
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Police 'delete or we smash your camera'

I've sent this email off to a few people for advice just wondering your views?

"Hi


Last night I was at a friends party in his garden (renting a house) and the police turned up in the end and told people to leave because of a fight. Fair enough I though.

But being a photographer I had being taken photos all night and when they turned up I carried on taking photos on a wide angle, including of the police.
They then approached me and asked for my memory card and film. It was digital so obviously no film. I refused saying I'd done nothing wrong. They then said if I didn't delete the photos instantly in-front of them they'd take my camera off me and smash it on the ground. Please forgive me but I beleive I did nothing wrong it was private property which I was invited to be at.

I just wondered if you knew the laws on this, as everytime I asked them on what grounds they were doing any of this they just avoided it and threatened my camera with the ground. I also found out they made my friend give them his film which they threw on the ground ( now ruined because of the lights) I asked for contact details to make complaints but I was refused any details or names. I then went and found the highest ranking police officer around and she said to take my camera. At that point I decided to walk away out of the field to the house. I was stopped by an officer and they took my details... they then spoke to the guy whos renting the house and left. Party over and one film ruined and some of my digital pictures erased.


This was in ashcott in somerset. I think rural police have no understanding of the laws regarding photos.

Could you advise me on the laws, do you think I can make a complaint?"

04-13-2009, 02:35 PM   #2
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"Dear Ed,

Going on your description of events, I would certainly make a complaint if it was me. Did you take a note of the details of the police officers concerned? And do you have any witnesses to them demanding you delete the photos or theatening smash your camera?

There is no law that gives the police the power to deliberately damage your property, nor to demand that you delete images or to delete them yourself. If you were suspected of being involved in a crime (i.e. the fight) and your images might represent evidence of this, there is an argument that they might be within their rights to treat the camera/memory card as evidence. But, as you will realise, evidence is supposed to be preserved, not destroyed!

You may have heard of the new s.58A of the Terrorism Act, which makes it an offence to elicit information about, among others, police officers, where this is of a kind likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism. Some people have interpreted this as making it illegal to take photos of the police, and there may be some police officers who tend to take that view, but it does not make all photographs of police an offence (though it does complicate things for photographers). Even so, even if the police thought you had committed this offence, the correct course would have been to arrest you and take your camera into evidence (since the images would be the evidence of the offence). Deleting or demanding you delete your images would not be within their power.

I hear of a lot of cases where photographers have been told to delete their images by the police, or even by security guards. It is not just rural police, sadly.

I dare say you have found this already, but just in case you haven't, here is an online form and an alternative phone number for Avon and Somerset Police Complaints: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact/general_enquiries/complaint_form.aspx

I hope this helps, and I would be most interested to know how you get on.

Linda"
04-13-2009, 03:21 PM   #3
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I would make a formal complaint.

Concerning the deleted pictures, next time just delete all the pictures on the card that they want. then, take thecard out and put a empty one on the camera.

When you get home, get yourself some proper software and "undelete" the pictures you deleted eheh

Point is, never forget that after deleting you can't use the card if you want to undelete the pictures taken.

Cheers
04-13-2009, 03:31 PM   #4
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Wow, that sucks. I really wish you hadn't deleted your photos and complied with their ridiculous demands.

I'd have gotten arrested, there's no doubt in my mind. And, as long as I'd kept my cool and was being arrested purely upon my refusal to delete photos I would have sued. False arrest, false imprisonment, violation of my Civil Rights. It may sound like I'm being silly but I assure you I'm completely serious.

Of course the likelihood I could have maintained my cool is slim and slimmer.

Regards,
Mike

04-13-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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You should contact the newspapers, radio, television stations, any civil rights groups. Contact a solicitor, civil rights groups will put you in touch with one who specialises in this type of thing.
Speak to anyone you know who was at the party, see if any of them remember the identifying numbers of any of the police. Get as much information as you can. Make a formal complaint, If what you said they said to you is true, they have broken the law and can be prosecuted. They broke the law just by not identifying themselves when you asked. As it's a rural station, you'll probably recognise one or two of them if you go in, but don't go in alone.
If you haven't written down any of the things you remember were said, do it now, the longer you wait the less you will remember.
Like the others have said, get some software and try and recover some of the pictures, it might help you identify the offending officers.
I'm sorry this has happened to you, it appears Britain is heading towards becoming a Police State, I'm so glad I left.
04-13-2009, 04:29 PM   #6
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He probably thought you were a terrorist.

If you've been keeping up with recent news, you should get that.

It's the new photography law that's been put in to prevent terrorism. But they are being massively abused by the police, using it as an excuse to force people to delete photos to cover stuff up, claiming it to be to protect people from terrorism. The people who put the law in have been apologising to press photographers, who should still be allowed to work normally, and to everyone else who have be abused by the law, but the police continue to do it.

I would have just refused if they could not give me a legitimate reason and gotten myself arrested, while clinging dearly to my memorycard/film. Hopefully someone who knows the laws will oversee you, and see you've been done wrong and let you go with your gear and images. If they smash your gear up, then you sue.

Or leged it, given a chance.
04-13-2009, 04:38 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cosmo Quote
He probably thought you were a terrorist.

If you've been keeping up with recent news, you should get that.

It's the new photography law that's been put in to prevent terrorism. But they are being massively abused by the police, using it as an excuse to force people to delete photos to cover stuff up, claiming it to be to protect people from terrorism. The people who put the law in have been apologising to press photographers, who should still be allowed to work normally, and to everyone else who have be abused by the law, but the police continue to do it.

I would have just refused if they could not give me a legitimate reason and gotten myself arrested, while clinging dearly to my memorycard/film. Hopefully someone who knows the laws will oversee you, and see you've been done wrong and let you go with your gear and images. If they smash your gear up, then you sue.

Or leged it, given a chance.
I'd be surprised if that law applies on private property, especially when the photographer was there by invitation.
04-13-2009, 04:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dopeytree Quote
Could you advise me on the laws, do you think I can make a complaint?"
I have no idea of laws in your neck of the woods... but here is what I would do:

1 - UNDELETE ALL THE PICS YOU CAN!!! (check out https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/accessories-memory/24603-how-rescue-photo...d-sd-card.html for info on how)

2 - Now that you have some pictures with the police officers faces (and possibly badge numbers on them), file an official complaint with their superior officers and let them know that you will also:

3 - Go straight to the media with your story and PICTURES. Your story is worthless to them without pics... with pics you put a face on the cops wrongdoing and there is a chance they'll pick up your story.


Don't let the police get away with what they did... they had no right.

Pat

04-13-2009, 05:09 PM   #9
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i agree, pat has a point, especially as the press might be more sympathetic than you would think, given they are affected too. i agree they should not be allowed to get away with this, otherwise they will do it again, and even get more bold about it as time passes.

i would probably would have gotten arrested too, as others said (but it depends in which country). "i am sorry, i cannot accept this, private property, public place, you can arrest me and i will come quietly if you are sure there are grounds". no resistance or negotiation, just, you want my camera, you need to take me along too (so to speak). i would not have let go of the camera or card prior to a judge ruling as such, or at least me talking to a lawyer (or, in the worse case, i would have kept the card at least).

in some countries this would have been unrealistic, unfortunately (i would have most probably gotten beaten up, my camera smashed, pictures destroyed, and perhaps with some fake accusation added, to taste, and a conviction to follow), but in your case, i would probably have not budged.

good luck!
04-13-2009, 06:00 PM   #10
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Well... that kind of crap is illegal in the U.S. (there goes that pesky Bill of Rights again), but I believe that most British cops are interpreting your new anti-terrorism law as a "you can't shoot photos of the police" law. Likely where you made your mistake was in shooting after the police arrived and pointing your big ole scary camera at them. Maybe they thought you had an AK-47 hidden inside your lens. I'd file a complaint but if they parrot the anti-terrorism mantra then you are probably out of luck... Least ways until you take your country back from the fear-mongers.

Now before I get blasted by certain people, the above is just my gut opinion and I have not researched the new British anti-terrorism laws in detail. Also, I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on television.

Mike

Last edited by MRRiley; 04-14-2009 at 11:38 AM. Reason: typos
04-14-2009, 02:25 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
I'd be surprised if that law applies on private property, especially when the photographer was there by invitation.
I don't know if it applies, but like I said, the law is being abused, so the police are just using it anyway.
04-14-2009, 03:03 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dopeytree Quote
I've sent this email off to a few people for advice just wondering your views?

"Hi


Last night I was at a friends party in his garden (renting a house) and the police turned up in the end and told people to leave because of a fight. Fair enough I though.

But being a photographer I had being taken photos all night and when they turned up I carried on taking photos on a wide angle, including of the police.
They then approached me and asked for my memory card and film. It was digital so obviously no film. I refused saying I'd done nothing wrong. They then said if I didn't delete the photos instantly in-front of them they'd take my camera off me and smash it on the ground. Please forgive me but I beleive I did nothing wrong it was private property which I was invited to be at.

I just wondered if you knew the laws on this, as everytime I asked them on what grounds they were doing any of this they just avoided it and threatened my camera with the ground. I also found out they made my friend give them his film which they threw on the ground ( now ruined because of the lights) I asked for contact details to make complaints but I was refused any details or names. I then went and found the highest ranking police officer around and she said to take my camera. At that point I decided to walk away out of the field to the house. I was stopped by an officer and they took my details... they then spoke to the guy whos renting the house and left. Party over and one film ruined and some of my digital pictures erased.


This was in ashcott in somerset. I think rural police have no understanding of the laws regarding photos.

Could you advise me on the laws, do you think I can make a complaint?"
Given that your version of the said is event is accurate and there is no embellishment what so ever, then hell yeah....you have no choice but to complain and seek re-dress in a much higher authority.

I am a strong supporter of the Police and have the greatest respect for these men & women who undertake this thankless job.....but abuse of power can not, should not, and will not be tolerated.

Take your complaint to the highest authority possible....but be 100% certain of your version of events(meaning: either it happened the way you have described ...or not) or else expect to be rightly crucified.

Cheers
Grant

Last edited by Mallee Boy; 04-14-2009 at 03:05 AM. Reason: spelling
04-14-2009, 03:40 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dopeytree Quote
(snip) Last night I was at a friends party in his garden (renting a house) and the police turned up in the end and told people to leave because of a fight. Fair enough I though.

But being a photographer I had being taken photos all night and when they turned up I carried on taking photos on a wide angle, including of the police. (snip)

The others here are right. Anyone with a camera has a right to ignore the police. Thus, when those officers said to leave a disruptive party, that camera gave you the right to ignore those instructions, stay instead, and continue taking photographs. And you certainly had a right to keep the photographs you had taken and continued to take in direct contradiction to the lawful order to leave. Those police officers were just picking on a poor guy with a camera and you should complain immediately.


stewart
04-14-2009, 08:54 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dopeytree Quote
I've sent this email off to a few people for advice just wondering your views?

"Hi


Last night I was at a friends party in his garden (renting a house) and the police turned up in the end and told people to leave because of a fight. Fair enough I though.
. . .
Was there actually a fight? Was there excessive noise? I'm wondering what grounds they had to show up on private property.

Regardless, file a complaint. I'd be writing complaints to the watch commander and other appropriate entities. Also, recover the deleted photos if possible. There is nothing ethically binding about deleting those.
04-14-2009, 09:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
The others here are right. Anyone with a camera has a right to ignore the police. Thus, when those officers said to leave a disruptive party, that camera gave you the right to ignore those instructions, stay instead, and continue taking photographs. And you certainly had a right to keep the photographs you had taken and continued to take in direct contradiction to the lawful order to leave. Those police officers were just picking on a poor guy with a camera and you should complain immediately.


stewart
This is a prime example of why I detest smilies.
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