I fought the law and… I WON!!!

Got a phone call today from Kent Police. Well I was at work and they spoke to my wife. They were ringing to let me know that my complaint has been upheld. The only details I have right now is the phrase unlawful arrest and that that they want to say sorry.

The message was that they are keen to speak to me. That they will be writing to me with the details I asked for in my letter of complaint.

So how about that then ehh? Looks like a photographers rights have been upheld. I’m a happy snapper!

I’ll post more details as I get them.

31 Comments

  1. I’ll retain a modicum of healthy cynicism until you get something in writing, but as a fellow photographer I applaud you from the rooftops for your refusal to be placated and for pursuing this fundamental issue.

    I sensed a disturbance in The Force today. Now I know what it was :0)

  2. How about they make a public apology (I’d be expecting an appearance from the PCSO for this), in front of the chip shop, and we can all take pictures?

  3. This is good news, though it will be interesting to see exactly what they are prepared to put in writing and where they go following that. Unlawful arrest is a serious offence, it’s effectively kidnapping, and of course any search carried out following an unlawful arrest could be technically common assault. Again, well done for seeing this through and not letting it go.

  4. Heard about your story just today, come to find out you got it resolved yesterday. Took them long enough! I’d get a good lawyer and sue for everything you can get! Have fun…

  5. Great news Alex and well done to you for sticking up for yourself and for the important principals. I hope that the stand you have taken will have a lasting effect.
    I look forward to hearing more details and hope that what was said in the phone call is fully backed up in writing.

    Anna. XXX

  6. Great news Alex, look forward to hearing more detail in due course. Well done for pursuing the complaint which has strenghtened the awareness of photographers rights for all of us.

  7. hi alex. shows what can happen when someone refuses to roll over. we are at risk but not from terrorism. good on you.

  8. Can we get some T-shirts made to protect us…

    I’m a photographer, not a terrorist
    and I know Monaxle!

    That should be more effective than a 20 yard exclusion zone 😀

  9. Hurrah! Congratulations on this from a fellow photographer.

    I know the paperwork is still to come, but have a think about what needs to be achieved, as you probably need to ask for more than a simple ‘soreeeee’ from the police.

    1. Records held on your arrest need to be deleted. That includes references on the PNC, local databases etc. You need to be put back in exactly the same position you were before you were arrested. Your second stop by the police indicated that they were adding info on you to some database, so make sure it is cleared, as you don’t want to go for an enhanced CRB in 10 years and find that they are holding stuff against you. Check out David Mery’s blog on this (gizmonaut) as he managed to do this after an unlawful arrest.

    2. Find out whether as the arrest was unlawful if you have to declare it if asked if you have been arrested (eg for traveling to the US). If answer is yes, kick up a stink.

    3. What action do you want taken against the police and council officials involved, given you were publicly threatened, detained and assaulted? Personally I think this merits far more than ‘words of advice’ which means nothing and allows them to going on abusing their powers, after a quick word about not being caught again.

    4. Are the police prepared to exonerate you through a public medium (statement to the local press?)

    5. What training will be given to local police on the legality of taking photographs?

    6. Financial compensation. I’d insist on this, as hitting them in the pocket is a surefire way of making them rethink their approach.

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  11. Bravo,

    It looks like a positive outcome – I await the full blow by blow response to your excellently worded original complaint. You set out your stall in no uncertain terms there and I trust the local authorities there will respond fully to each point.

    Let’s face it, they’ve had enough time.

  12. Of course they want to talk to you… they want to achieve a ‘Local’ resolution… You might want consider if that’s really enough…

  13. Super news Alex … it pays to keep “snapping” at their heels.

    Congratulations on a long and patient campaign.

  14. Well done Alex!

    The fact that you kept your cool and excersized youre rights showed great spirit and not only for yourself but for all photographers!!

    This ism”t JUST a victory for yourself, this is a stand that you have done that has helped us all in a big way and for that I thank you!
    Well done for standing your ground and well done for sticking to what you believe!

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  16. OK so Well Done You…………
    You fought the Law and you won…
    Lets try something, first of all we set the scene.

    There is a man standing in a town centre taking photographs for no real reason…..(fine nothing wrong here…. if its a statue or something pretty amazing) 2 PCSO’s approach the man and ask him what he is doing.

    Man replies: I am just taking a few photos.
    PCSO replies: Ok carry on.

    At this point no harm done nobody cares that any photos have ever been taken.

    Three weeks later:

    Your wife and children go shopping and are walking through the Town centre…………. BANG!!! a building explodes.
    The police then come knocking to say that you family was standing outside a building that a target of a terrorist attack and would like you to identify the bodies.

    It is later revealed that the person behind the attack had been caught and photos of the building were found in his possession.

    2 PCSO’s claim to have seen the man taking pictures 3 weeks prior and did nothing as he was “just taking a few photos” and thought nothing of it.

    The man is sent to prison for terrorism, the 2 PCSO’s are fired and have now lost their career and possibly house and possessions, you have lost your family, and the police have egg on their face.

    So you see your actions have an effect as now police are going to be more cautious on this matter and in future who knows this story may be true for me, you or thousands of others.

    Procedures and laws are put in place to protect people. They always have been i.e. Companies hide behind policies to protect them but the police hide behind them so as to protect themselves and US!!!

    Can you honestly say that you would be happy with the police force if this did ever happen?

    Basically what im saying is although your actions were meant in good faith they can have a knock on effect and next time the person in question may not be a fellow law abiding photographer.

    • Thinking through the logic of your argument results in a country where there’s no need for legislators because laws can be made up by whatever agency is given the muscle of authority. I did not break any laws by anything I did though was still arrested, handcuffed and detained.

      If we consider photography in public a potential antecedent to a bomb going off do you really think it is practicable to stop and question everyone that engages in that activity? Probably not so what should we do then? Ban it? Make it an illegal activity?

      Supposing I did provide my ID – how will that stop anything from happening? If I was inclined to cause explosions and death the possibility of being asked for ID when taking photos openly in public might have crossed my mind. If I still thought it was a good idea to carry out reconnaissance in this way maybe I would have sorted out some bogus ID before hand to keep anyone who asks happy. Beginning to sound ridiculous isn’t it?

      False reassurance is worse than none at all. It’s like closing your eyes and pretending no one can see you.

      Worse than that though, your argument turns people who refuse to subscribe to the misapplication of power into the baddies. You are sleep walking into a totalitarian state. Don’t expect me to come with you.

      I wish that you and people like you would try and think through the issues further than the naive position that you have taken; to consider the redundancy of the safeguards you propose and the negative impact that following them would have on our civil liberties and safety.

  17. Simon’s theory is just that – a theory and totally OTT at that. He’s certainly got a good imagination. I would guess the scenario he’s conjured up would never happen in reality and makes him sound like an alarmist. Are we going to ban just about every activity that could even remotely be construed as possibly having terrorist connections? I think that just about covers everything we do in daily life. If that happens, the terrorists have won. In Alex’s case, I think we are really talking about police who don’t know the law, especially the “toy-town” plastic cops who like to wield a little power and are born jobs-worths. The proof is that his arrest has now been declared unlawful, which says it all.

  18. Simon,

    Lets try something, first of all we set the scene.

    There is a man standing in a town centre getting in his car for no real reason…..(fine nothing wrong here….just to get out of the wind) 2 PCSO’s approach the man and ask him what he is doing.

    Man replies: I am just getting in my car.
    PCSO replies: Ok carry on.

    At this point no harm done nobody cares that he has gotten in his car.

    Three weeks later:

    Your wife and children go shopping and are walking through the Town centre…………. BANG!!! theres an explosion.
    The police then come knocking to say that you family was standing outside a the location of a terrorist attack and would like you to identify the bodies.

    It is later revealed that the person behind the attack had used a car bomb.

    Anyone can play along with this game if you like just substitute taking photographs for any other legal activity, and when you’re done just tie it back to terrorist attacks: tying shoes = shoe bombs.

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