Section 44 in Chatham High Street.

I went down to Chatham High Street today to take some pictures of the flyover being demolished (that’s another post to come) and to use up a film I’ve had in a camera for over a year. Doing so had some unexpected consequences…

This photo…

Suspect behaviour

Suspect behaviour

led to this photo…

Questions in the High Street

Questions in the High Street

which led to this form…



which led to this letter…

To the Professional Standards Department

RE: Complaint relating to the behaviour of police officer xxxxx, police officer xxxxx and PCSO xxxxx.

At around 11.45am on the 08/07/09 police Officer xxxxx placed me under arrest in Chatham High Street. Officer xxxxx stated I was being arrested under section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 and read me my rights. As I was arrested I was handcuffed. I asked why she had arrested me. She stated because I had taken a photograph of her and that she considered this to be an unlawful obstruction. After a short time I was led up the High Street and detained in a police van for around 20 minutes. It is my view officer xxxxx had no reasonable grounds to arrest and detain me under section 44 of the Act. The arrest was made immediately after I photographed xxxxx whilst voluntarily waiting as she spoke to a colleague on the phone in relation to me being requested to stop by PCSO xxxxx and officer xxxxx’s subsequent involvement.

The relevant events leading to the arrest are as follows: I was initially stopped by two men in the High Street close to Snappy Snaps. The men did not identify themselves though stated that they worked for Medway Council. I saw a badge attached to one of the men’s waistband and saw the logo of Kent Police. The men asked me why I was taking pictures in the High Street. I told them photography was a hobby and explained what and who I had taken pictures of and why. The camera was an Olympus OM1 which is an analogue film camera so I was therefore unable to show them a preview of the pictures I had taken. The men asked me to provide them with details about my identity. I asked them under what authority they were making their request. They did not provide a clear answer to this question in that they failed to state the legal authority under which they were making their enquiries. I stated it was my belief that I was not legally obliged to provide them with any further information and was choosing not to do so. They said that if I did provide the details they requested then they would contact the police. I did not argue the point or move away. One of the men then used his phone as the other flagged down PCSO xxxxx who was walking down the High Street from the Rochester end. The same line of questioning and responses followed. We were then joined by officer xxxxx who again came from the Rochester end of the High Street. Once again the same line of questioning followed until such time I was arrested. At no time did I refuse to give an account for myself and my activities in the High Street.

After sitting in the police van for around 20 minutes the outer back doors were opened and I was spoken to through the locked inner cage by officers xxxxx and xxxxx, both of whom were in plain clothes and neither of which produced their warrant cards. They spoke about the threat of terrorism. They were keen to seek my agreement with regards to the views they expressed, both about the threat of terrorism and the suspicious nature of people with cameras and especially those who chose not to provide identifying details about themselves when requested to do so. I was asked if I would now provide details regarding my identity. I asked, taking into account I was now under arrest, handcuffed and detained, if I was obliged to do so. They stated that I was and said that if I did not I would be taken to the police station. I indicated I could not physically provide any proof of my identity whilst handcuffed and locked in the van. They let me out. I asked to be unhandcuffed. The request was refused. I informed officer xxxxx details of my identity were in my wallet which was in my inside jacket pocket. Officer xxxxx placed his hand inside my jacket pocket and removed my wallet upon which he opened it and could see my photo card driving license. He passed the wallet to one of his colleagues who took it away. Officer xxxxx then proceeded to search my pockets and pat me down. It is my assertion the refusal to remove the handcuffs was unjustified and perpetuated the use of unreasonable force. At no time had I made any physical resistance or attempts to move away whilst being questioned by any of the police officers, the PCSO or the two unidentified men claiming to work for Medway Council. I was not informed by officer xxxxx the object of his search nor the grounds or authorisation for it. It is my understanding that as officer xxxxx was in plain clothes he was also obliged to produce his warrant card prior to conducting his pat down and search of my pockets which he did not. Furthermore it is my understanding that as the search was in public the officer is only authorised to require me to take of an outer jacket, jacket and gloves. Officer xxxxx required me to take of my trainers and patted down the undersides of both feet.

For a further 5-10 minutes I stood in the street in full view of passers by handcuffed and accompanied and intermittently spoken to by officers xxxxx and xxxxx. Whilst sharing their views about the threat of terrorism officer xxxxx stated she had felt threatened by me when I took her picture. I cannot recall exactly what she said but I do recall her referring to my size and inferring she found it intimidating at the time (I am 5ft 11in and weigh about 12 stone). Presently officer xxxxx returned and released the handcuffs. Officer xxxxx stated he was satisfied with the results of checks which his colleague(s) had made. He put his hand out for me to shake, apologised for the inconvenience, stated that he hoped I understood given the ‘strange’ times we are in and left in an unmarked car with officer xxxxx.

Officer xxxxx then presented herself to me and asked if I had been informed that I had been dearrested; I stated that I had not at which point she proceeded to do so. She also offered a verbal apology and her hand for me to shake. I asked if I was free to go and continue to take pictures in the High Street, she informed me that I was; PCSO xxxxx added as long as you don’t take any pictures of us. At this point I walked away feeling upset, embarrassed and traumatised by the events.

I believe the way I was treated was unjustified and wholly disproportionate. I assert that officer xxxxx misused her powers of arrest and demonstrated a poor understanding of the law in relation to arrest, the use of force, the use of detention, photography in public places, obstruction and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000. Furthermore I assert that officer xxxxx is unsuitable to act as a police officer or at the very least requires further training if she is intimidated by a male of an unremarkable stature taking a single picture with a camera pointed in her direction. I assert that officer xxxxx failed to follow the correct procedures when conducting his search of me and perpetuated the use of unreasonable force by refusing to release me from handcuffs. I assert that PCSO xxxxx demonstrated an unacceptable attitude by making a veiled threat towards me in relation to my future activities as an amateur photographer. I seek for these matters to be fully investigated, the process and outcomes of which I request to be shared with me. With regards to redress I seek a written apology in relation to any shortfalls identified with regards to the involved officer’s conduct and consideration of compensation to be made to me for the upset, embarrassment and psychological trauma caused. I would also like Kent and Medway Police to liaise with Medway Council in order to identify the two unidentified men that initially stopped and questioned me. I seek for their conduct to also be fully investigated, the process and outcomes of which I request to be shared with me.

Yours sincerely

Cc – The independent monitor of the implementation of anti-terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, The House of Lords London SW1A 0AA.


I know a fair few people may say serves you right for a number of reasons. My reponse to that is it will serve you right when you wake up one day and realise you don’t live in a free country anymore. I’ve been stopped nearly a dozen time under section 44. Up until now I’ve always provided my details. Today I decided not to. Seems that when I choose to exercise my rights I get arrested, cuffed and detained for doing so. Yossarian would appreciate the logic in that.



  1. That’s outrageous on a number of levels. You are perfectly within your rights to photograph the police in a public place and you deserve a full apology in response to your excellent letter. Your assertion that “…officer xxxxx is unsuitable to act as a police officer or at the very least requires further training…” says it all.

    I hope your experience won’t deter you from continuing to photograph in the street. Street photography is an important form of social documentary. If photographers’ rights are eroded, or people are intimidated into not using their camera in the street, the only photographs of our public places in the future will be those taken by the CCTVs of a society browbeaten into paranoia by an an appalling self-serving government and its media whores.

  2. Agreed with the statement above that photography in the high Street is an important form of social documentation. I would hate to see life boxed into the point of view from CCTV.
    Not only were your basic human rights violated, but from the events explained it appears as if excessive force that perhaps could have been perceived as prejudice may also play a part in this.
    The irony of the Medway Council workers not identifying themselves and officers speaking of “threats of terroism” and “strange times ” clearly speaks for itself
    You have articulated yourself very well in your letter of complaint and hope that you will indeed keep us updated with any further action. I wish you the very best.

    I think secretly this amounts to not wanting the public to know She shops at Primark…

  3. i think its unbelievable that you can be arrested basically because that woman felt threatened by having her picture taken once, when we are pretty much filmed everywhere we go under the guise of public safety and preventing ‘terrorism’… surely, by you taking her picture, you were doing a public service by adding to the vast collection of images already kept? seems to me that the real threat to the people might be coming from closer to home than we think.

  4. This is disgusting! How amazing that with the average behaviour of individuals in Chatham High Street, the only person the police can find to arrest and search, is a respectable individual taking a few street photographs.
    As has been said previously, their conduct does call into question their level of training and ability to effectively carry out their duties. It also calls to question their ability to make judgements and have a worthwhile effect in the High Street. I’m sure while concentrating on you, they happily ignored the behaviour of the many undesirables that make Chatham High Street what it is today.

  5. Words fail me Alex. I’m totally appalled and I completely sympathise with you. It’s beyond belief that in this country anyone could be questioned, let alone arrested, simply for taking a photo in the street. The idea that that alone can be grounds for suspicion of terrorism, without any other evidence, is completely and utterly insane. I think you’ve got a very good case for saying that they exceeded their powers under the law.

    Good luck.

  6. Everybody else has said it already, so I won’t comment on the clear violation of your human rights, or of your rights as a photographer. Or the misinterpretation and subsequent abuse of Section 44. If we weren’t able to take photos of police, they could do what they liked, couldn’t they? Like, oh, I don’t know, beat somebody relentlessly at a peaceful protest, or kick someone repeatedly while they were already on the ground not resisting.

    So my thoughts are:
    Write to MPs requesting support of photographers’ rights and adequate training for police officers.
    Write to the papes
    Demand an apology from the police
    (Not just you doing these things, all of us)

    And with tongue in cheek:
    Sending a random assortment of dwarves, munchkins and children with cameras into the High Street to check intimidation levels, gradually upping their heights with the aid of built up shoes.

    We support you fully, Alex.

    Lisa xo

  7. Fuck… much food for thought here. It’s left me a little bit lost for words, to be honest. The only articulate response I can come up with so far is that it’s yet further evidence of my long-held belief that those who seek positions of authority are actually those least fit to hold them. But then, I recognise that this does a disservice to those who do actually understand that power comes with responsibility. Hope you’re OK.

  8. I am just amazed that you were subjected to this sort of treatment.

    What a gross overreaction. As has been said already, we are filmed everywhere we go by CCTV. I am not sure why the Police officer would consider a picture of her would be considered a possible contravention of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, when she is in plain view of anyone who wants to see her. If you were taking pictures of her for reasons related to terrorism, I would find it rather unlikely that you would stand in front of her and do so, rather than take cover somewhere and use a large zoom type lens to make sure you were not detected. This smacks of petty bureaucracy the type that is bringing this country down and possibly collusion by the council employees with the Police to deal with anyone who doesn’t behave in a subservient manner and tow “The Establishment Line”. What did the council employees have to hide?

    I would pursue this through the Police complaints commission…

    All that said I am still shocked at how you were treated…I am fairly cynical person by nature myself and not very much surprises me these days, but this I am afraid does…

    Good luck with this issue and it comes to something when you cant walk down Chatham High Street and take a picture anymore. What has the world come to?

  9. LIsa made a fair point. Forget the dwarves though. Seriously, perhaps all us photographers, and our families, should take cameras onto the streets for one day of protest. Photograph everything in the High Streets of the 4 Medway Towns. Announce the protest in advance, tell the police, tell them they will be photographed every step of the way. Tell them their abuses must stop, now. Publish the photos. Publish the police’s details. Ask the police why they hassle innocent citizens yet do nothing about the theft of public funds regularly perpetrated by Medway Council employees. Notice that when you ask the police this by email, you will have to send your complaint about Medway Council to an email address that ends in (thats the council’s server). I might do that myself. And whilst I’m at it, I might ask why they arrested you, Alex, for taking pics of a chip shop, and didn’t arrest the 15 guys who kicked me in a few years back, even though they had CCTV of them all.

    Serious, anybody up for a day of protest this August? I’m sure if there were a few hundred of us it’d be something they couldn’t ignore. I’m up for it. I could advertise it in AP and the others mags in advance. They’re always talking about this issue. Anybody in then email me on [email protected]

  10. This should be front page news. Interesting to see how the very people insisting on removing civil liberties in the name of “preventing terrorism” react on the receiving end. Interesting… and more than a little horrifying.

  11. Wouldn’t it be nice if the police knew the laws? It’s worth writing to Amateur Photographer and relating this story – it would make a great story for their “AP Rights Watch” campaign.

    Thanks for posting your story.


  12. Having been through a similar experience – although thankfully not arrested – I can only sympathise. I feel no surprise that the police are still over-exerting their powers.

    It always strikes me as being the most insidious form of propaganda that the police use – repeatedly trying to get you to agree that we live in dangerous times. Almost as if agreeing with them is a short-cut to release. It reminds me of 1984’s Winston Smith being continually asked how many fingers he could see being held up.

    Well done for your calm and professional letter. I know how gut wrenchingly awful it is to have to go through the event again and again. I hope the letter receives a positive response and – at the very least – the officers involved will get some training on the issue.

    Take care, remember that you are in the right and they are in the wrong.


  13. This is appalling.

    Great letter though – I shall be following your story with interest; such an articulate and clearly drafted complaint deserves an equally complete response!

    Here’s the guidelines for any law enforcers reading:

    My silent protest will be made. I shall make sure I take a photo of the Police outside Dalston station every time I pass them until this is resolved.

  14. To be honest you should count yourself lucky you didn’t get sent to Guantanamo. Out of interest what is your “ethnic background”?

  15. Absolutely absurd – completely highlights the ignorance prevalent throughout a large amount of the police (and also PCSOs) out there.

  16. this is the advice given in the met region, it is Section 58a which relates to taking pictures of police officers .
    Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000

    Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 covers the offence of eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police.

    Any officer making an arrest for an offence under Section 58a must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the information was of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

    It should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to use Section 58a to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism.

    There is however nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable.

    Guidelines for MPS staff on dealing with media reporters, press photographers and television crews

    Contact with photographers, reporters and television crews is a regular occurrence for many officers and staff. The media influences our reputation so it’s crucial to maintain good working relations with its members, even in difficult circumstances.

    Following these guidelines means both media and police can fulfil their duties without hindering each other.

  17. So, if you were “de-arrested”, do you still qualify for the US visa waiver programme?

    From the documentation at

    “Have you complied with the conditions of previous admissions to the United States and have not been found ineligible for a U.S. visa?
    * “If you have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, have a criminal record, have certain serious communicable illnesses, have been refused admission into, or have been deported from, the United States, or have previously overstayed on the VWP, you may not be eligi-ble for VWP travel and should not attempt to travel without a visa.”

    it looks as though you may not be. Therefore, will you be seeking compensation for the not inconsiderable additional expense of having an agent seek and acquire a visa for any entry to the US you may wish to make at any time in the future?

  18. Pingback: IanVisits » Met Police Issue Advice to Amateur Photographers

  19. Bloody hell, if that been in another counrty, the british govenment would be saying that it unfair and unjust law, but seems to be ok here. Free state or police state?

  20. Do not allow the police to deal with this ‘informally’.
    They will ask you to sign a document that will let them do this – refuse.
    Make a complaint to the IPCC immediately.
    Make a complaint to your MP, who should pass it on to the Chief Constable. This ensures that the complaint doesn’t ‘get lost’.
    When the IPCC and Prof’ Standards have finished i.e.
    give their conclusions, sue in the County Court for
    wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.
    Ask for costs and punitive damages at £500 per hour or part thereof.

  21. SUE man. I’m normally not one to suggest something like that, but geeze, that is just wrong. I was pulled over by the cops once for taking pictures in a public park and I had asked permission from everybody I was photographing. I was doing this for my employer at the time, which was THE CITY. The officer saw my ID badge and was surprised. He still called in and had them call my supervisor to verify they had me out there shooting for work. Had I not been doing the photography for work I don’t know what would have happened, but it might not have been good. I hope they didn’t ask you to turn oer the images or anything like that. This whole thing is a HUGE violation of your rights. Who’s to say you were not shooting for the local paper. I seriously hope you get some sort of compensation out of your troubles, being humiliated like that can be traumatic.

  22. Lost for words and not surprised all at the same time.

    I have nothing constructive to add that has not already been scrawled above.

    Met David Hartshorn (Snr Const Public Order) earlier this year, just for an informal chat in a pub. Based on what he said (All recorded) they’re very aware of these sorts of problems, but there’s not much chance to re-educate the people that need to understand how 44 etc actually work. (or are supposed to!)

    I’m pretty sure that terrorists are fully aware of all of this rubbish and send their kids with a nice 12mp Ixus to shoot the front of mi5… Sad times *controversial!*

  23. I agree fully with the last comment by Hg. I have sat with my jaw dropped throughout reading this, I am completely shocked at this for you and cannot begin to imagine how awful you must have felt while this was happening to you – along Chatham High St of all places – the petty thieves and actual criminals probably had a field day filling their pockets while the police busied themselves with you… Unbelievable.

  24. That’s absolutely ludicrous, not to mention appalling behavior by a servant of the public. I cringe to think if that sort of behavior spreads to our side of the ocean (it has, in many instances) but nowhere near as prevalent as it seems in the UK.

  25. I hope you get an appropriate and decent response from them to your requests and that having the situation spelled out to them in such a way will effect some level of change and, perhaps, instil a respect for “Joe Public” that may be lacking in “these strange times”.

    Good on you and I hope you are not deterred to carry on photographing… I have been enjoying your pictures for some time 🙂

  26. We live in a police state since 9/11. That has given them all the excuse they need. Same goes for busybody members of the public and councils, etc. Yet the bastards can film us on CCTV as much as they like.
    Police in this country used to be well trained and exercise something old fashioned called ‘common sense’. I’m afraid that has all gone out of the window now. You are guilty unless you can somehow prove that you are not a terrorist or are a person of a non-threatening nature. Would they have treated you the same way if you had been a muslim? Or would that have been even worse?

  27. I agree with the comments regarding how important these photos will be in the future, especially with the regenaration that is taking place. You only have to look at how popular the books are that have photos of Medway past. I love looking at them and comparing how things have changed.

    Good luck with your complaint. You have every right to be angry. I do hope that you have contacted the local papers.

  28. Hmmm… Worrying times for sure.

    Arresting someone under Section 44 is a highly contented point at present, especially as you are not the first photographer arrested for just such a reason. Sadly, I don’t think you will be the last.

    The fact of the matter is with mobile phones carrying significantly tech-savvy cameras on the back, it won’t be too long till we’re all being nicked down Chatham town for making a phonecall whilst in the vicinity of a PCSO. Hyperbolic claims maybe, but then I would have said that in ten years ago if someone could suggest that a person could be arrested for taking a photo in a public place…

    It’s been said many a time before, but we cannot sleepwalk into a rugged roughshod state of CCTV watching our every move, but us not being able to watch them back. It’s disconcerting for sure…

    I can feel a documentary on the issue in the making… Hmmm.


  29. Hi Monaxle,
    Just goes to show how some people over react these days.
    Sent a pdf file to Lisa Dillion which states our rights as “street photographers”, makes interesting reading. It does point out that we are not breaking any laws.
    Contact me by email and I will forward it to you.
    Glad they let you go by the way!
    Keep us posted of any future confontations with the law you made have!
    All the best,

  30. The Chief Inspector of Constabulary Denis O’Connor inadvertantly nailed this when he stated that since a large part of the population now carries some kind of camera, either digital or on a phone, police tactics will have to change because, especially at demos, their actions are subjected to “enormous scrutiny”

    This seems to be a tacit admission that the police are used to acting outside of the law safe in the knowledge that they are very unlikely to be called to account and now this is changing they are unsure of themselves

    Info from this blog gives details of the advice the Met give about photography in public places:

    It would be interesting to contact Kent Police and Medway Council to ask them what their guidelines suggest.

    One minor detail – it is interesting to note that they chose to note the location as Military Road rather than Chatham High Street on your Stop’n’Search form.

    As someone who regularly photographs around the Medway Towns I am chilled by this – how long will it be before I get nicked?

  31. This has happened to me, and many of my colleagues during our masters in International Journalism in London.

    Within minutes of getting our cameras (videos and stills) we’ve been stopped without justification just as you have.

    It’s particularly embarrassing as it’s an international course, and my colleagues from abroad have been so shocked by the surveillance society we live in…

    Sad times.

  32. Very well worded letter, I wouldn’t have been able to restrain myself to be articulate enough.

    I also believe that these silly acts only cover the photographing of police constables, of which PCSOs are not?

  33. I loath how we’ve given up our freedom so easily to assist the hunt for terrorists. Those new laws now in turn are being used to stifle the very freedoms we as people have been blessed with, and our grandfathers fought to retain.

    Only a radical muslim wins when the freedom of those who live in a democratic government is lost in the fight against those who’s beliefs do not allow for such freedom and democracy in the first place…

    That’s me on a watch list then…

  34. “And with tongue in cheek:
    Sending a random assortment of dwarves, munchkins and children with cameras into the High Street to check intimidation levels, gradually upping their heights with the aid of built up shoes.”

    id better go last then… theyd hang me i suspect.

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  36. Well, the others have already said it all so I won’t echo those feeling with which I heartily agree.
    Perhaps Kent Police (and particularly Medway Division) ought to heed some of the stuff coming out of the inquiry into the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the G20 demonstrations earlier this year; it doesn’t make pretty reading for the police when amateur footage of police abuse is welcomed by some MPs.
    Perhaps we ought to have a Medway flickr group photo session of the High St. and the demolition of the flyover?
    Oh, and how do Medway Council expect photographers to contribute local photographs to their crappy competitions if their (unknown and unidentifiable) employees bring unwarranted police action against said snappers?

  37. Would it not be the case that the officers in question are now open to charges of unlawful arrest and assault?

    They asserted you were being arrested under section 44 and gave completely invalid reasons for doing so. Indeed, as far as I am aware, section 44 does not confer any powers of arrest, only those of search. Nor is one obliged under section 44 to provide an officer with any personal details.

    Of course, it’s your word against theirs. Same as it ever was.

    Anyways, glad you came out of it reasonably okay, thanks for the excellent reporting, and I hope you get the apologies you deserve.

  38. I agree with much of the comment already made about police over reaction, and that they probably over reacted with a purpose.

    But the thing that has not yet been examined is the role of the initial unidentified Medway Council staff. Undoubtedly they have been appointed as members of “the wider police family” to use a phrase of Jacqui Smith/Timney when she was Home (Economics) Secretary. The clue is in the badge. I can’t immediately remember the reference, but I believe that they have the power to demand ID, and to refuse is an offence.

    Now that the Met seems to be claiming that it has seen sense on its persecution of photographers (and eventually will get the message out to the provinces as well), we must start to take on these jumped up not even PCSOs from the Council.

  39. Pingback:

  40. Interesting point, Yokel. I’ve done some digging and I believe you are referring to accredited persons whose powers can be found here:

    They have the power to demand your name and address only if they have reason to believe you have committed certain types of offences, which are (at most):

    (a) a relevant fixed penalty offence for the purposes of any powers exercisable by the accredited person by virtue of paragraph 1; or

    (b) an offence the commission of which appears to the accredited person to have caused—
    (i) injury, alarm or distress to any other person; or
    (ii) the loss of, or any damage to, any other person’s property;

    The offences listed in paragraph 1 are:

    (a) the power of a constable in uniform to give a person a fixed penalty notice under section 54 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (c. 53) (fixed penalty notices) in respect of an offence under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 (c. 50) (riding on a footway) committed by cycling;

    (b) the power of an authorised officer of a local authority to give a notice under section 4 of the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 (c. 20) (fixed penalty notices in respect of dog fouling); and

    (c) the power of an authorised officer of a litter authority to give a notice under section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (c. 43) (fixed penalty notices in respect of litter).

    As far as I can tell the accredited persons had no power to ask for Alex’s name or address, unless his photographs were causing people alarm or distress.

    And that last is probably the stickler.

  41. @Dee causing alarm and distress is not sufficient reason to require name and address you need to do that by committing an offence.

  42. I take it that you didn’t shake hands. It’s a gesture of respect they didn’t deserve.
    Most of the danger in these times comes from the police not the terrorists.

  43. Don’t worry, Dave Wise (and others). Medway Eyes is already on it, and has been since the crack of dawn. Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re all invited:

    Monaxle is a core member of Medway Eyes, which doesn’t like abuses of power very much, so……..
    Having just spoken to Alex (Monaxle), we are organising a protest for the middle of August (exact date to be confirmed). We have a few ideas on how we’ll go about it, but welcome your input and, of course, your attendance on the day.
    It is important to defend our rights. They are being eroded at every turn.
    You can be sure that Medway Eyes will work absolutely within the law and for maximum impact.
    Watch for updates.

    Alternatively, find us on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. or address any direct questions to [email protected].

  44. @Tug

    I don’t understand what you’re saying.

    I think the law is trying to provide a get out for these accredited persons. If they have reason to believe that Alex’ photography is causing someone alarm and distress, they can then swoop in with their busy body powers and demand his details.

    You have a different take ( which I really want to agree with, by the way). Can you please spell it out for me? I spent a good 20 minutes staring at legalese and it’s totally stuffed my ability to understand English. :o)

  45. Alex, what can I say. This is a terrible abuse of power by a couple of power crazed idiots. I can only hope that you will get an apology. I won’t however be holding my breathe.

  46. In the 70’s my old man was arrested because he had an Irish accent and was stood next to a telephone box; the assertation was that he had used the phone box to make a bomb threat some days earlier. Presumably British “Intelligence” at the time assumed that IRA bombers were thick enough to stand by the telephone until arrested. The problem that you have here, is that your average PCSO is really poorly trained and they want to make a bit of a name for themselves. If she felt intimidated then maybe she should consider how wise a career move she has made. I’d go along with the mass rally of people in fancy dress. Maybe we could all come along as great terrorists and dictators from history? Don’t wear a beard though, cause everyone knows that modernday terrorists have beards.

  47. Cheers for chipping in everyone. Glad it’s not just me that thinks the way I do about these issues. Thanks for being so thoughtful in what you all have to say.

    BTW I got a very encouraging response this morning from Lord Carlile (The independent monitor of the implementation of anti-terrorism legislation) whose taken an interest and wants to be kept informed about the progress of the complaint. The British Journal of Photography have also been in touch and are interested in doing a story.

    I’d like to respond to all the comments but not right now as I’m off out down the Eagle for a bit of Lupen Crook and The Murderbirds.

    Keep your Medway Eyes open. I will be. Cheers.

  48. When I read stuff like this it makes me glad I left the UK to live in another country. I wouldn’t have given them my ID either…..

    Good luck with the fight but I think you are too late in the UK, freedom is gone.

  49. the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer.

    The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who ‘elicits or attempts to elicit information about [members of armed forces] … which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.

    A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

    The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places.

    if the officer claims you are intimidating them that is the grounds for the arrest

  50. I had a similarly frustrating time in Newcastle when I was out with my troop of 5 soldiers. We had had a fantastic night without any trouble until one of my lads got glassed in a crowded bar. Despite the fact that he had a head injury, he was immediately arrested without any attempt to find the culprit. I was annoyed at the heavy handed manner in which my soldier had been treated so I asked the officer for an explanation. The arrests were made by an officer not wearing any numbers on the shoulders of his police jacket. I asked him for his number so I could lodge a formal complaint and was informed that I would be arested for breach of the peace if I did not move away.
    I pursued the matter as long as I thought I could before we were banned from the city. I went straight to the police station to complain but was told to return the next day when I was at work and hence unable to complain. A letter to the Police Complaints Commission returned no reply.
    You wouldn’t think we all work for the same government. I would like to think that as serving soldiers we would be offerred at least the same respect as a regular civilian – from your blog I think we were!!

  51. Alex
    Let me add to the many voices of support already in this thread. Your letter was a magnificently judicious response. If you feel like being a bit less responsible, you might like to enter the Fitwatch “Policewatch” competition (scroll down on this webpage for details – There’s a special prize for the first photo of copper trying to use this legislation. In general, our practice is “naming and shaming” to try to stop this type of legislation being used – see
    Best wishes


  52. Good luck with your complaint, Alex. What happened to you is despicable and must not be tolerated in a free country.

  53. I am staggered at this although not surprised, it would appear that recent times this countries police force have changed their principles from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent. I have been stopped twice and searched under this act and I am convinced that it was just to keep the numbers up.

    The other week I was topped in my car in the early hours of the morning as I was on my way home from work. I had my camera and most of you know I always take the opportunity to capture what I can at night. I was driving around the country and turned around in a driveway at the back of the Kent showground. As I pulled in there was a police car parked there. (probably keeping out of the way) anyway as I drove off he followed me and I just knew he would stop me. Anyway about 4 miles down the road sure enough his lights cam on and we were in a road no wider than 7 feet. There was nowhere to pull over so I just had to stop.

    By this time he had time to check my details out via the car reg info they have on us all. His opening gambit was that I sped off when I saw him because he felt my intention was to break into the Kent show ground. I was staggered at this and of course went on the offensive. He questioned me and of course I was at best very forthright with him (he was on his own) I was able to cover all questions even to the point when he questioned my route home. I pointed out that we still lived in a free country and I was able to drive down any road at any time of day and night and he or any other police officer couldn’t stop me. The conversation went on like that for a while and of course he had nothing on me or could do nothing but his closing gambit was to say that I had an attitude problem (said as he walked away)

    I thought what a prize knob

  54. Abledime – We’re aware of the new laws that came into force earlier this year. However, those relate to terrorism. It is not practical on any level for the police to arrest everyone who takes a photo of them – this just doesn’t work at ground level, particularly when inexperienced officers use new laws unnecessarily and without discrimination. Police are present everywhere; at community events, football matches, demos and in the high street, as Alex found out.

    Claiming to be intimidated just because somebody has a camera, purely in order to justify an arrest, is just open to too much abuse. Surely our police officers should be made of tougher stuff than that. Be intimidated by a knife, by a fist, by a gun. But for fuck’s sake, don’t be intimidated by a camera. The police have one reason, and one reason only, to be intimidated by a camera, and that’s because they are doing something they shouldn’t be. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, isn’t that right?

  55. It really staggers me the lows this country seems to have decended to with regards to the police control of innocent people.

    I’ve never been arrested/cautioned etc. myself, but I have taken thousands of photographs in public places, including towns and cities, and the thought of having to suffer the unjustified treatment you mention here leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  56. Oh my goodness, I am a rather timid persona dnif this happened to me I think I would be in a terrible state. i cannot believe you were handcuffed, how awful.

    i realise that we do live in strange times and terrorism is something we all have to be weary of. But i still cannot understand what a terrorist would do with a picture of a police person. they are hardly going to attack one person.

    Luckily I use a digiatl camera so at least i would be able to show them my images but even so, what sort of country are we now living in.

  57. Totally support your challenge on this. Someone totally over reacted in this case and you had completely justifiable reasons to be photographing the area in relation the recent news stories.

    I hope you get recompense. In addition, I would be very interested in knowing why Medway Council employees were patrolling the highstreet…

  58. About that demonstration idea. How about if there could be normally dressed people at the back, with their digital cameras, known as ‘WMD’s’, or ‘Weapons of Mass Documentation’, and then well known terrorists at the front, such as robin hood, nelson mandela, che guervara, joan of arc, davey crockett and of course henry the fifth (‘I see you stand like papparazzi in the slips, straining upon the red carpet. The games afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry, ‘God for David Bailey, England, and Fox Talbot!’) all with pinhole cameras. There could even be a chitty chitty bang bang child catcher (he wasn’t a terrorist, he worked for the government, that bits just for fun and a bit of irony). The pinhole cameras will need about 30 seconds for each exposure but if Robin pisses the police off enough they should give him a kicking for a minute at least, way long enough to catch them in the act.

    Seriously, it’ll make a well good film. Get worldwide coverage and perhaps expose the stupidity of this law and our law-enforcers at the same time.

  59. There are various guides to photographers’ rights.

    I would like someone knowledgeable to make up a check list / form which could be kept in the pocket or bag then if harassed by the police you can go through checking what rights you have and what powers they actually have then record these on the form. With spaces for all the details of the various persons involved – “refused to identify himself” can be entered clearly in front of them if they will not identify themself.

    It can ensure than you record all the required details for a complaint though I suppose you could carry a complaint form for the IPCC and enter direct into that!

  60. Print this link off and carry it around, it clearly states that taking pictures of police is allowed, they do have powers if they have ‘reasonable suspicion of terrorist intent’ though.

  61. A very well written account.

    It is a shame we now have such poorly trained bully boys (and girls) wandering around with their radios just looking to annoy their customers. Meanwhile the real criminals go free courtesy of our failed criminal justice system.

  62. I’ve had a number of journalists contact me about doing a story on this. Whether they do or not is up to them. The principles of fair use and editorial comment balanced against respect of copyright should of course be considered.

    I have decided to refrain from making any direct comment in addition to that which I have made already in this post and subsequent comment. This will be until such time the police write to me with the responses I seek as set out in my letter of complaint published in this post.

    The police complaints procedures states they aim to resolve complaints within 120 days. On receipt of their response to my request or in 120 days time whichever is sooner I will reconsider this position.

    In response to a request to remove the picture of the police officer and PCSO above I have agreed to obscure their faces. I’m not an unreasonable person. Shame though about me being paraded up the High Street in handcuffs for all to see.

  63. As a photographer who took part in the demonstration at Scotland Yard in April, can I please urge you to pursue this complaint to the end and whatever you do please please please do not agree to an informal resolution. That keeps the complaint off the police stats and the disciplinary record of the officers abusing their position clear. Ditto for agreeing for the officers to receive ‘words of advice’ – it’s a ‘don’t be a naughty boy’ chat down the pub with nothing entered on the paperwork. Copy your complaint to your MP, local newspaper and IPCC (good on you for sending a copy to Alex Carlile).

    I hope you refused to shake their hands!

    A few points (but bear in mind I’m not a lawyer, just a photographer who believes in civil liberties) – a standard search does allow them to check your shoes, although the stop and search form claims they didn’t as you to remove any clothing! However just about everything else done to you was illegal. Section 44 allows police the power to search you under the Terrorism Act for items useful for terrorism purposes, but you are under no obligation to provide your personal details. You are obviously ‘detained’ for the purposes of a search, but it’s not something you arrest people under. (However unless it’s a designated area they can’t do Section 44s – it would need to be Section 43 if you were behaving suspiciously)

    “Unlawful obstruction” is not an offence under any section of the Terrorism Act. However “causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway” is I believe it’s one of the nine “necessary criteria” for arrest under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and makes all classes of offence “arrestable” if the “necessary criteria” applies. Obviously you weren’t obstructing her by taking a photo from a distance, but it appears she arrested you under SOCPA whilst citing the Terrorism Act?

    For the rest of the time you were under arrest you were clearly treated like s***. Interesting that they apologised at the end – something they police never do out of arrogance and due to the fact it would be an admission of wrongdoing. Did they realise they had screwed up? Probably, given that they de-arrested and didn’t drag you off for a DNA sample and fingerprints.

    Your ongoing problems: as someone pointed out being arrested has consequences. Not just US Visas, but if you ever want to work with children or vulnerable people or in a security cleared job an arrest is cited as part of your criminal record on an Enhanced CRB check. Being de-arrested might mean that there’s no official marker kept on the PNC about you – but you really need to clarify where you stand on this as it could bite you on the bum years down the line. Section 44 stops can also logged on a central intelligence database – find you if you are on this.

    Good luck! And screw them for compensation, becuase it’s the only language they understand.

    PS. Your case has made it to The Register, where I found this

  64. That is absolutely awful. I’m sure the police have a lot more things to do than arrest and innocent man taking pictures in Chatham High Street? They have no right to do this. Keep up the good work

  65. @Catkins – thanks for your comment. Just one point to follow up. The information handed to me by the officers at the time specifies:

    ‘If the search is in public, the police officer can require you to take off only your outer coat, jacket and gloves. If a more thorough search is necessary, an officer of the same sex as you must conduct it out of public view’

    I was required to remove my shoes in full public view. Clearly in making this requirement the officer in question failed to follow his own forces written guidelines. Small point but a significent principle.

  66. Definetly sounds like an example of police over-reaction to handcuff and detain in a van rather than discuss. Will retweet in order to spread awareness.

  67. “Sweet Fanny wrote: “The police have one reason, and one reason only, to be intimidated by a camera, and that’s because they are doing something they shouldn’t be. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, isn’t that right?”
    Strangely this is the same reason the Home Office gives to us over ID cards.

    On the search matter, Alex’s requirement to remove his shoes breaches not just force guidelines but the Police and Criminal Evidence Act’s Code of Conduct, UNLESS the search carried is out under S45(3) of the Terrorism Act 2000, which empowers a CONSTABLE (not a PCSO), conducting a search under S44(1) or S44(2) of the Act to remove footwear or headwear in public. Some matters bothers me about the completion of the search record Alex has posted:
    a) It is noted that no clothing was removed – wrong, Alex’s shoes were removed.
    b) No details (i.e. evidence of Grounds – Prevention of Terrorism) is provided.
    c) There is no mention of arrest – “Arrested as result of search – N, Arrested other – no completed (!)
    d) No mention is made of which power of search has been applied.

    I provide a link to PACE 1984 Code A Code of Practice fro the exercise by: Police Officers of Statutory Powers of Stop and Search:
    Sections 3 and 4 are the relevant areas

  68. Alex
    I’ve read your post a second time and it really is a complete fuck up. And most importantly there’s a GREAT BIG FUCKING FUCK OFF LIE in the paperwork which you might have been too upset to notice.

    To summarise:

    You appear to have been arrested under the Terrorism Act for an offence which is not covered by the Terrorism Act, citing a section of said Act which isn’t relevant. What led to your arrest was your perfectly legal behaviour in taking non-commerical photography in public. Your details were wrongly demanded by private security guards, who when you declined to obey, called in the Plastic Plod, who called in the real police. You accounted for your legal actions, but as was your right, declined to provide your personal details, as you were not under arrest or being reported for a recordable offence. This legal refusal got you arrested, handcuffed and chucked in the van.

    During your detention in the van’s caged area two plain clothes officers attempt to pressure you into agreeing that your behaviour in carrying out quite overt photography was suspicious, as was your choice not to reveal your identity. They indicate that the arrest is to ensure that you prove your identity. These officers choose not to reveal their identity.

    You are then removed from the van, to a more public area, and thoroughly searched by officers who fail to reveal their identity, and who do not state why they are searching for you. Despite the fact you are apparently under arrest you are not taken to a police station to be searched and processed, but undergo a procedure closer to a normal stop and search (albeit in handcuffs and with shoes removed). You are in fact later provided with a normal stop and search form which states “clothing removed: No” and here’s the really interesting bit “ARRESTED AS A RESULT OF SEARCH: NO”.

    Despite the fact nothing is found on you, you are then left handcuffed in full public view for a further period whilst the officer who arrested you for “lawful obstruction” states that she instead acted becuase she found your act of taking a photograph imtimidating. Eventually a police officer who has disappeared to carry out ‘checks’ returns to say he is ‘satisfied’, removes the handcuffs, and leaves. You discover from another officer that you should have been ‘dearrested’ but you have not been informed of this. You are then formally dearrested, but the PCSO present warns you that you are only free to continue with your photography as long as you don’t photograph officers.

    Have I missed anything? 🙂

    Please pursue this NOW with the local press – if you wait the 120 days then it’s old news and they won’t be interested. Public embarassment will also speed up the police response. Take it from someone who has followed a lot of similar cases. Oh and complain to the police authority as well as your MP and the IPCC.

    Please don’t get too focused on the shoes bit – it’s the entire abuse of police powers and public humiliation which is the problem. Focus on one (minor albeit frustrating) point and you allow them to quibble over what exactly is allowed (shoes off verses feeling around the tops of shoes) and go on an ignore the wider issue.

    See the stop and search form from the Association of Police Authorities which is very clear on your rights, and your right not to have to prove your identity under most circumstances.

  69. I’ve just finished reading your account; very shocking and I am appalled that this is still happening:(

    I have been stopped and searched by the police in London so I understand how embarrassing and distressing that this can be.

    Your letter is carefully worded and I really hope that you did not shake the hands that were offered to you.

  70. That’s exactly what I was referring to, Richard. That and every other piece of crappy legislation designed to hoodwink us into thinking all this surveillance is for our benefit. The same “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument is being used to erode our rights to go about our daily lives without interference from the state, even in our own homes. Makes me bloody sick.

  71. Alex, who requested the removal of the photo of the police?
    I can understand asking to have the faces obscured but total removal is asking a bit much.

  72. @ Catkins – You’re spot on in your analysis. The point about the shoes was made for you. It’s just one small part of the whole episode.

    With regards to the press; any journalist wanting to do a story about this can without any further word from me. All the details are already in the public domain. They only need to apply the principles of fair use and editorial comment. Though further comment from me may contribute an element of emotion and and add a personal side to it I’m not interested in that beyond what’s available from the post and everyones comments here. Besides I think very little of the media in any case. It would be a bit hypocritical of me to go running to them now. I will comment more when I get the response from Kent police. There is a process I wish to follow. I get there are other ways to go about this. I don’t want a speedy response. I want a rigorous investigation. I want a robust action plan to address any shortfalls that are identified by the investigation. I want this be used used as a learning exercise for Kent and Medway police. 120 days should be ample time for that to happen. I couldn’t care less about publicity or making the police squirm. In fact I think that would be counter productive. I do want any apology that’s due to be in writing and proportionate compensation to be made that takes into account all relevant factors.

    @ John Ford. The request was asking a bit much. That’s why the photo remains. It’s simply a demonstration of my reasonablenes that I blurred their faces. I couldn’t give a damn how uncomfortable it may make the officer feel to have her picture on the internet. She didn’t give a damn about the impact her actions had on me. The difference is I am reasonable. She was not.

  73. what sad times we live in, section 44 is just another excuse to stop people going about their lawful buisness just as the sus law of times past

  74. Everyone else has said all that I want to, better than I can. You have my wholehearted support and sympathy, Alex. We truly have sleep-walked ourselves into a police state.

    It is probably too much to hope these ‘officers of the law’ receive the proper sanctions for their outrageous behaviour but I do hope you receive your apology and some kind of recompense, even though you can never be truly compensated for your ordeal.

  75. I’ve had an equally ‘unsettling’ experience ( only saved from being much worse by being ‘vouched for’ by an employee of the building I was innocently photographing – from across a road junction ) and I know how it feels. Every incident of this nature drives a larger wedge in what should be a mutually supportive bond between the citizen and those that we employ to make our lives safer.
    It just ain’t good enough.

  76. I suggest you print out a copy of this and carry it with you at all time:

    The met’s guidelines on dealing with Photographers and S44, If the met see the law as so, why should Kent police see it different?

    “Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.”

    “The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place. “

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  78. “My reponse to that is it will serve you right when you wake up one day and realise you don’t live in a free country anymore”

    You’ve got to be kidding – you already DON’T, and haven’t for a long time. Thank god I’ll never have to visit britain. I was left stranded in Germany by a flight cancellation and offered a rerouting through london and I refused, simply because I can’t support a police state, even if I’d rather get home faster.

  79. Very very annoying to be so treathed by clearly stupid police.
    Of course you can see where all this might be heading? That eventually you will need a licence in order to operate a camera. And of course another nice little tax earner towards mps salaries and expenses and second homes.

  80. Good lord. Absolutely bloody astonishing. And not in a remotely good way. The kind of thing that makes me embarassed to live here. Again.

    Chin up though, you are not alone.

  81. ….and people think that we`re not living in a Police State. The public will only kick up when it`s too late and they`ve got no rights whatsoever.

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  84. Holy crap! You cannot even take pictures while visiting places anymore without being treated like a criminal.

    I have a friend that is a professional photographer. He was detained and questioned by the Disney Police (see: Mickeys Mafia) at Disneyland in Anaheim, California a few months ago. They were suspicious of his activity because he was taking photos. He used, what he refers to as, “the big camera”.
    He’s a very accomplished and talented photographer, just like you are. He doesnt bring his camera to Disneyland anymore. It’s rather sad.

    As far as I’m concerned if you are allowed to see it with your eyes, taking a photo shouldn’t be a problem.

    Maybe Ms. Officer was a man hating bitch or was on her monthly that day.

  85. It turns out that small amounts of power may also corrupt absolutely.
    I’m pretty sure that I’ll be leaving Britain off of my travel list until this is sorted.


  86. So she felt intimidated! This suggests anyone taller than say 5.10 and heavier than 12st is possibly seen as a threat. Does this apply to the copper behind her? If not does this suggest everyone except a policeman is arrested if they carry a camera (including phones). Are they building large gaols to take all the intimidating people? Or is she simply in need of training? Many questions just on this point alone.
    The police are supposed to uphold the law not make it up as they see fit. There will now be a long delay whilst they figure out how to deny any of this happened and that it was all a figment of your imagination.

  87. So. Pictures can be taken by Estate Agents. By Photographers at weddings, sports events etc. By the Papparatzi. By sightsee-ers and tourists. By reporters. By family members of family members. But not by the ordinary person in the street. 1984 was 15 years ago….. We can’t even put pictures of our children on Facebook. My Flabber is well and truly ghasted.

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  89. It sounds increasingly as if the police themselves are becoming the terrorists in civilian life. Though nothing like this has ever happened to me, and I don’t take photo’s of anyone in the street (I would actually feel I was invading their privacy if I did), this heavy-handedness makes me regard the police as unapproachable and bullying. But more than anything it’s the hypocrisy of the police and councils which gets me. I live in a town whose centre now reminds me of a prison camp with CCTV cameras on poles everywhere, and I avoid it where possible because to me the whole atmosphere is one of intimidation and anonymous scrutiny. How I wish I lived in a country where it would be as illegal for private companies to film people going about their everyday lawful business as it apparently can be for an individual to take a still photo of law enforcement in the same area of surveillance.

  90. Nearly this exact same thing happened to me once while taking pictures of a private jet from the outside of a small airport in broad daylight in Atlanta, Georgia.

    I actually only took one shot of the plane…it was my intention to get a shot or two of it taking off. I caught it taxiing (it was a terrible picture), after which point it stopped moving. I waited for take off, and around ten minutes later the police arrived.

    I was questioned rigorously, searched, and photographed without consent before being sent on my way, but was not allowed to remain and take more pictures of the plane or any other planes, but advised to go immediately home and exercise better judgement in the future. They seemed to have a very similar attitude to the officers you encountered, urging me to agree with their views on counterterrorism and the suspicious nature of my actions, while also agreeing that I had done nothing illegal.

    This was a bit more understandable than what happened to you, because of the plane, but was still embarrassing and infuriating. After the cops finished harassing me and radioed back to HQ, the plane took off and I finished walking home.

  91. This stuff happens 24/7, the only weird thing is that, i’m just guessing, you are caucasian.

    Count yourself lucky they didn’t beat you up.
    There is no freedom. They can pick you up and lock you up forever anytime they feel it like it. And say; oops, mistake! Handshake!

    If you want to drop a complain it’s at the same office these guys are working… yeah right!

    Welcome to the club of the non-naïve.

  92. This is disgusting, I’ve obviously been living in a hole and hadn’t realised this was the state of things at the moment. I’m genuinely I’m horrified by this and makes me feel we are not far away from a police state.

  93. Well done Alex for standing up to them. What does concern me though is that you have decided to blank out the faces of the PC and PCSO while leaving the members of the public’s faces unobscured.

    There is no legal requirement for you to blank out the faces of the officers but if you do wish to do so then do it to the members of the public as well

  94. @ Bill – fair point. Though I never thought about that before you mentioned it I have thought about it now. I suppose I could justify (to myself) whatever I do either way. I’ll leave the picture as it is for now. If they get in touch asking me to obscure they’re faces I will. Not sure how I’ll be able to verify it’s a genuine request though. It’s a bit of a learning experience for me.

  95. Dude, well done for reporting on this, I think it’s disgusting that you should have been bothered in this way. It’s absolutely appalling that PCSOs, police officers and other ‘officials’ think the most important job they can do is harass anyone with anything more complicated than a camera-phone.

  96. Good for you. It’s gone past the ridiculous stage when it’s sensible to feel more threatened by the actions of the police than the terrorists. Might be worth sending a copy of your letter to your MP (doubt it’ll do much good, since they’re all part of the same problem, but you never know).

  97. Mr. Turner,

    My suggestion to you is, the next time you find yourself in a Section 44 encounter due to public photography, and the constable(s) relate their assumptions about an association between photography and terrorism, ask them:

    – How many cameras or photos were used on 7 July to bomb the trains and bus?

    – How many cameras or photos were used to bring down the WTC towers in New York? (Answer: none.)

    – How many cameras or photos were used to crash the jet into the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on 9/11? (Answer: none.)

    And so on. The point being, these terrorist attacks utilised extremely powerful weapons such that precision was not a requirement. Precision being the only thing I can think of that a terrorist might obtain by photographing a potential bombing target. Aside from that, it is all too easy, with today’s compact, high-resolution cameras and camcorders, to image a site surreptitiously.

    Here in New York City, police officers have been detaining and arresting photographers for photographing the city’s many sights.

    I myself have been detained by the NYPD, for photographing an overpass (flyover) in midtown Manhattan. While in detention, I asked some of the above questions, and also invited them to query for photos of bridges, tunnels and overpasses in NYC. (Millions of such images are available online.) One may also obtain detailed blueprints online of some of the many bridges in NYC (the NYC metro area contains over 2,000 such structures.)

    Fortunately, they recently revised their policies, at least on paper-

    The courts and the U.S. Constitution are quite specific about the rights of journalists and photographers, but as the site documents very well, not many police officers or departments appear to have much regard for those precedents.

    I hope that you prevail in this case.

  98. Thank you Alex (and the rest of Medway Eyes) for recording such images of our locality. You find interest where most see none. Your experience demonstrates the depth of ignorance and lack of a simple understanding of how the majority of society operates. Abuse of power is as bad as it gets and these officials need to know that. If they do not understand what they are commanded to enforce and are not able to excercise judgement and common sense then they are out of their depth. They cannot bully people this way. From the outset, what you experienced was a humiliating infringement of your liberty and potentially damaging to your professional reputation. Scandalous.

  99. As an American, I’ve always viewed Great Britain as a bit of police state, even worse than what we had here when George W. Bush was President. At least here, you can take pictures in a public place without being accosted by the police or have a surveillance camera following your every move…

  100. I hope you get a decent apology and compensation. I feel the police and security forces are behaving in a ridiculous way. They are meant to protect us not take away our liberties for no good reason. We are legally entitled to take photographs in public areas and should not have to be worried about being arrested for doing so.

  101. Good luck getting a reply :0)

    A bouncer launched me down a flight of stairs in September 07. Several “investigations” by the IPCC and PSD over nearly two years, and I still don’t have a crime number. My visit to the IPCC was down the Police’s refusal to take a statement and, when they eventually did so, the fact they lost it – twice.

    My faith in the old bill went a long time ago – keep me posted on this!

  102. Alex,
    I have left you an email. I am a barrister and would be interested in taking this one forward with you in relation to a complaint and legal action against both the police and local council, and also a future protest in Chatham.

    I am trying to contact Chatham Council on 01634 331855 for more details.


  103. There are NO legal restrictions on photography in a public place.
    You can photograph anyone you want, including police officers – you DO NOT need their permission. Despite what a lot of people seem to think, the Prevention of Terrorism Act does NOT make it an offence to photograph police officers.
    I suspect your arrest was completely unlawful and it appears was a case of a police officer abusing their power to get you to bend to their will. Do not let them get away with it – it is essential that you make a complaint to the IPCC. It is easy to do (you can do it online – just google IPCC). Only when enough people start making official complaints against these out of control officers will they realise it is just not worth their while harassing photographers.
    Remember – photography is NOT a crime.

  104. Fitwatch has campaigned for the last two years against police abuses of power, particularly FIT (forward intelligence teams), the police who film and photograph protest. One strong area of campaigning has been in resisting efforts to criminalise the taking of pictures of police officers.

    Taking pictures of them as they take pictures of us has been one of our most successful tactics. Many people also consider it vital that photography is used to hold the police to account.

    Recent guidance from the Metropolitan police reinforces the use of s44 against photographers, allowing the police to ‘search’ the images on digital cameras and phones in the same way as they search pockets and bags.

    You were perfectly correct in refusing your details – they have no right to demand these, even in a s44 search. Yet we regularly encounter instances where people have been threatened with arrest for withholding details.

    Please let us know what happens in this case – and whether there will be any protest about it.

    Best wishes


  105. Fat people always have something to bitch about, being cops just gives them an excuse to do so. I dono what the legalities are in the UK but here in australia, if someone is in a public place, police or not you have every legal right to take their photo without their permission.

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  108. Alex, this incident is so similar to the one that I suffered, as the UK meekly bows and gives away it’s freedoms and liberties to the Brown/Blair regime.

    I hope that your complaint is fully investigated and that you achieve some measure of success.

    When they said that terrorism will not change the British way of life, they were lying through their teeth, as they passed legislation to do exactly that, it is up to US to fight to redress the balance.

  109. This is NOT a free country. It has not been one since the smoking ban came in on July 1st 2007. It is getting more and more Fascist every day. Photographers are now going the way of smokers. If we do not protest, this country will become a complete Police-State.


  110. What a joke i think your taking this a bit far she was doing her job, you bought this on yourself, if you had just provided the information required of you there would have been no need for all this embarrassment on your part. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself what does a terrorist look like? no one knows, also as a parent i would have had the concern that there could have been an alterior motive for you taking these photos, i would have done exactly the same in this situation as the officer that took action. If you had been taking photos of an uninnocent nature then she’d have been hailed a hero.
    It is unfortunate in todays world that we can not take pictures where we choose to do so but with things the way they are you just can’t, so i salute her and would like to thank her for having the courage to do the job that she does and making sure that our community is a safe one.

  111. As mentioned, under Section 44 you do not have to give your identity. As for an arrest for “Obstruction” under Section 44, that just sounds weird. I don’t think such an offence exists.

    Is Chatham High street an official declared “terrorist threat” zone (like essentially the entire area inside the M25)?

    It’s worth noting that the latest piece of Anti-Photog legislation (“thou shalt not photograph a member of the armed forces or police”), Section 76 of the “Counter-Terrorism Act 2009” went through Parliament this Spring undebated, and the Met Police Officers were surprised when it appeared (can’t find the link).

    I’ll add you to my little list of harrassed photogs.

    There are 20 on there, but I have more than 10 others to add.

    I think the way to do this is to get commitments from all local candidates from Parliament ahead of the next Election.

  112. You salute her, Cally? Would that be a Nazi salute by any chance? It may just be true that you want to live in a country where everybody is tightly controlled in the name of ‘security’. If that is true, emigrate to Russia. This is England, we do not do these things here. You may agree with the poilce doing whatever they want, but perhaps you won’t when your kids grow up and they are themselves abused by the state. Not because they’ve done anything wrong, but simply because the state can, if we let it.

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  114. Get over it. You are making a real meal of this. There are good reasons police officers should not have their pictures taken, and it has nothing to do with them “getting away with it” and everything to do with them having the right to a normal life when out of uniform. As for the joker(s) who are saying this is NOT a free country, try telling that to the people of China (or any one of a hundred other countries). I had the misfortune of being taken into custody in Beijing and if you REALLY want to know what police abuse of power is, I suggest you try it.

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  116. And to Dave Wise, who thinks it is amusing to label as a “Nazi” anyone who has an honest opinion which does not agree with your viewpoint, I can’t think of anything more offensive. A pity you don’t live up to your surname. Now grow up and get your hair cut “hippy”!

  117. Cally,

    “As a parent”, would you like to be paraded in the street in handcuffs whilst other parents from your childrens’ school passed by having a good look, just because you wouldn’t provide ID to somebody whom you were not required by law to provide it to? People can get the wrong end of the stick, you know.

    “As a parent” I often read and discuss books with my children and can heartily recommend George Orwell’s 1984.

    It is unfortunate in today’s world that we CAN take pictures where we choose to do so, but some would rather state that we can’t in ignorance rather than follow a link in a blog that would explain photographers’ rights to them.

  118. Phil, the “ignorance” of others is not really helped by your own argument being clouded by confusing your “unfortunate”s with your “fortunate”s. Just thought I’d mention it.

    If Cally (who everyone seems to be getting quite upset with for little reason as far as I can see)lives in an area as rife with crime as my own home town, then she is probably defending the police because the alternative is too hideous to contemplate. I don’t think anyone can blame her for that.

  119. Phil dillon,

    As a parent i wouldn’t be in the higt street taking pictures of childen or anyone it’s not right not now days and if i wasn’t doing anything wrong i would provide ID the police are doing there job!
    This country is a joke i can’t see how you all think this is ok!

  120. This country is running amok that’s why it’s the way it is we need the police to do more if anything. I’m glad the police took this in to there own hands. Maybe next time you’re show them your ID?

  121. @ cally & Garrison.K – Thanks for chipping in. There’s always more than one side to every issue. Clearly I don’t agree with your views but you’re free to share them here without any hostility or censorship from me. Good luck to you; I think we’ll all need it though if we get the kind of society your views support.

    Dave Wise (he rocks) gets the bonus prize for invoking Godwins Law.

  122. One of my blog team sent me your report re Section 44. Unfortunately this is part of the glowing number of wide powers which started being passed well before 9/11 and which Mr Blair seemed quite happy about despite the protestations the Labour Opposition put forward to terrorism legislation. Your report and the film Taking Liberties inspired my blog, Who are the Subversives now? which I posted yesterday. Had it not been for your blog I would not have got round to it so many thanks! Do the police think Chatham is still a major naval dockyard, I wonder?

  123. I can’t believe this is being made into such an issue, the officer was merely trying to ‘protect the public’ as one would expect! Also, remember…there are always two sides to a story!

  124. I think that cally and Garrison.K have missed an essential point here. Alex was asked by persons who refused to identify themselves to provide his own details. He refused (I ask, would you give your details to anyone without knowing who they were?). On the police being called (for what real reason?), Alex exercised his legal right not to provide his details to them either. For exercising that right he is arrested. This is abuse of power, but moreover it is an abuse of the legal system that exists in this country, and that is a concern for everyone.
    Ok, China might be, and probably is, worse – I’ll take your word for it – but that’s not the point – we’re talking 21st Century UK here and the erosion of rights which puts us on a slippery slope that could lead towards where China is.
    If the country is running amok you might wish to consider why – it certainly has nothing to do with innocent photographers taking shots of chip shops but probably has a lot to do with an increasing lack of trust between the general public and those who run the country or their minions.
    Whilst I can see that there are reasons why the police do not like having their pictures taken, every month or so we get free newsletters from the council and Kent Police both exhibiting photographs of police officers and PCSOs (the most recent one from Kent Police even had a picture of an arrest taking place – the offender’s face was pixelated, the officer’s was not). How do we balance that; shots of police distributed to every home in the Medway area versus the odd snap by a local photographer that will be seen by a handful of people (not forgetting that it’s only because the police were called by those who remain nameless because they wouldn’t identify themselves that the police were photographed – Alex hadn’t taken their photos prior to the incident occurring).
    Oh, and for the record as well as being a photographer I’ve worked in the Met, in Kent and still work in an area of law enforcement, so I’m looking at this from both sides.

  125. Thank you for taking a stand on behalf of the photographic community. Hopefully the publicity that cases like this generate will remind police officers that we have the right to use our cameras in public spaces.
    Wishing you all the best,

  126. @GarrisonK: I’ve checked my grammar, and it more or less stands up well enough to convey the message I intended it to. Admittedly, I used the word “rather” twice. That’s an offence, yes, but only within the rules of Just A Minute. Don’t try to demean this discussion with pompous stabs at typographical or grammatical errors. It’s really not the point. I’m a photographer, not a bloody English teacher.

    @cally: You really need to read Alex’s blog again before spouting off any further. He refused to give his details to a Medway Council employee who was not legally entitled to them. I concede that this has been misreported, but then the police put the wrong street on the form as the site of arrest, so misinformation is a factor we must consider.

    Please see my blog about photographers’ rights. It’s neutral and cut-and-paste factual. Try to resist the temptation to opinionate further until you have at least done your basic research. The blog is at:

  127. If you look at the pink form displayed on this website it says on the left hand side “Ho/Rt1 & Search Record” it does not state that it is an arrest record, just a thought???

  128. you can take pictures of the PCSO, as many as you like.

    to arrest you as a result of that is unlawful, as the PCSOs are NOT covered by the dodgy anti terror legislation. The PCSO would, in fact, be commiting either an unlawful arrest or would themselves be comiting the crime of impersonating a police officer.

    That said, Kent police do appear to be adopting a very intimidatory approach towards photographers, perhaps it was the coverage of their antics at the powerplant last summer that embarrassed them?

    A proper democracy does need to be defended, it can only be done by holding the officers of the crown to proper account, and that requires records of their actions.


  129. GarrisonK – I think you may have misinterpreted Phil Dillon’s statement. Perhaps if you read it again? Also, calling people who want to defend our rights “hippies” is not big or clever, so just stop!

    Cally – As a parent, I find it deeply disturbing that our civil rights are being eroded by those in power. We are all free to go about our daily lives, including whatever our hobbies may be, without interference from the state. This is a fundamental human right. Surely you don’t think everyone with a half-decent camera is a paedophile or terrorist? If you do, then you ought to wise up. This government and the media are preying on the fears of parents and the public at large. The government’s response is to pass laws to restrict our freedoms without any thought as to how these laws will be interpreted by police officers on the ground, as is evident by the new legislation brought in earlier this year. The government was warned this would be the case, yet they chose to ignore it. The PCSO was not just doing her job. She was abusing her position. That is beyond dispute. There are plenty of links above to clarify that. She simply didn’t act within the law. It might be worth investing a little time to absorb the information in these links.

  130. Anna, you’re totally right, there is no arrest report just this little pink form which is a stop and search record. The only record of the arrest will be (should be?) in the arresting officer’s notebook and hopefully in the notebook of the PCSO and any other officer involved. Because Alex was not ‘taken down the station’, there is no custody record (i.e. the custody officer has not recorded the arrest and authorised the detention on the basis of the available evidence). In itself this is not a breach of rights, it is quite legitimate to arrest someone and subsequently de-arrest them when the evidence of their innocence of committing an offence arises. In fact it’s crucial that an arrested person is de-arrested when their innocence become apparent otherwise the detention become illegal. One matter to be understood here is that until a person is processed by the custody officer they do not have access to their rights, i.e. notifying someone of their arrest and access to free legal aid/own solicitor. You will note on the Ho/RT1 that a relevant box (Arrested other) has not been completed.

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  132. I wonder what would have happended to me I have no driving license and obviously do not walk around with my passport on me so i have no way pf ‘proving my ID’. Would I have been arrested until I could prove my ID despite the fact there is no legal obligation for me to do so or would they have been forced to accept they had made a serious cock up and arrested someone going about their perfectly legal business?

  133. What a long winded and bombastic letter to write. Are you sure you were arrested and not just “legally detained for a search” as is required under s.44 Terrorism Act before being searched.

  134. One other point. Since Alex was handcuffed the officer who applied the cuffs should have noted this. Also recorded should be the serial number of the set of handcuffs used and any injury, pain or marks caused by the application and the wearing of the cuffs.

  135. The law of the land exists solely for the benefit of the public.

    Anti-terror laws exist to prevent the public suffering from terrorism.

    When the public are terrorised by the police (who are public servants paid by the public to perform their lawful duties), the police have become the terrorists. As such they (the police) are liable to arrest by the public and to be prosecuted for terrorist activities. The chief constable of the relevant force is also liable to arrest and prosecution for permitting his or her officers to terrorise the public.

    The sooner we the public realise that we are the law and the police are merely our servants, the sooner such abuses – and worse (vide two manic depressive men shot dead, one on holy ground at Guildford Cathedral, by Surrey ‘police’, Jean de Menezes and others (apparently 30 and counting…)) will be prevented from happening again.


    Peelian Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”


    Do they?

    Do we need Americans to instruct us on how our police should behave when we invented policing?

    We pay the police to police our streets and protect us from crime (of which terrorism is but a miniscule part), therefore we should expect our police servants to uphold their duty as public servants and not become terrorists in their own right.

    If the police behave this way, we should simply stop paying their salaries and dismiss them from our service.

    The chief constable of every county is under notice, as they have always been, that he or she shall be held liable in full for each and every breach of every police constable’s or woman police constable’s duty to the public.

    This applies to terrorising them for photography or for murdering them.

    Winston Smith

    There is more to life than paying taxes.

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  137. Dear Alex, my name is peter and i’m appalled by your arrest as i’m a very serious amateur photographer living in rainham medway. My reason for contacting you is that as i said i’m appalled by your arrest, earlier this year i was walking in Rochester high street one afternoon when i saw two male police officers hiding in the high street waiting to pounce on drivers who were ignoring the no left turn traffic sign at the junction of Boley hill hill and the high street. iI wrote to the chief constable at medway and the home secretary, the kent police authority in maidstone and i spoke face to face with Paul Clarke mp, I said to the chief constable that this was a gross waste of valuable police time and that he should be ashamed of deploying his officers in this manner, I also pointed out that the previous week a young man had been murdered in his home in Chatham and i said that the police should be in the front line facing up to real crime. All of the above parties did respond in a fashion to my complaint and i feel that i will also make another complaint to kent police about your arrest. I saw the article about you in a free local paper and i would like to ask you if you took the photos which are on page six ? if not i wonder if that person was questioned and or arrested. Peter newman.

  138. Garrison, I can’t get my hair cut, I’m almost bald. Yes, I am a hippy. And yes, I’ve been to China. In fact, I walked across a large part of China. Know it very well thanks. As I do over 70 other of the worlds countries, many of which I’ve traversed on foot, and over long periods of time, giving me ample opportunities to get to know local laws and police practices (I’ve also met many fundamental terrorists and chatted to them). England is not those countries. We are not those people. We are something other. Do not compare us to them. This is not racism, it is realism. Know your history. Greek, Roman, then huge gap, before Englishman. We have different standards and they must be upheld, until another archytype comes along to fill the void. Consider another point. It’s widely reported that the world has a water shortage. The next African war, its said, will be over water. There’s a very great possiblity that water will become a serious issue in Europe over the next 20 years. Which means that if you want to terrorise a population, you need only threaten their water supply. Which means, if you and the other Daily Mail readers have your way, it’ll be an offence for Alex, me and other people who like to spend our free time take innocent photos (what would you rather us do, race around in 4×4’s? kick people in after a football game? work in a bank and con you out of your money? slob out and watch shit tv?) to take a photograph of a river, or a lake, or even a tap. Just how would you feel if a family member was arrested for taking a photo, or, as times get more paranoid, for drawing a picture, of a nice river? Hopefully, at that stage, you’ll begin to question yourself.

  139. Why has Mr turner been stopped a dozen times before, what was he doing? Sounds like a bit of a trouble maker!
    Was it his intention on that day to draw attention so this happend?
    What about the rights of the decent members of the public whom want suspicious activity to be challanged?
    Does he and other photographers also think its within their rights to photograph children in swimming pools and in play grounds etc.
    This man is a clear joke and I bet if one of his loved ones had been blown to bits in the 7/7 attacks he would be one of the first to shout for tighter policing. I and others are planning to join your protest to identify, photograph and protest against time waisters such as turner. If I was a cop I would not want a camera shoved in my face and published every where. That is why we plan to reverse the roles . Turner,What a pathetic joke!

  140. To Richard Reader. On the whole I have no argument with what you have said, I think you have presented a pretty rational and balanced perspective. To be clear I agree with everyone, including the police, abiding by the law. What I object to is the whole police force being villified and branded as “running amok” based upon what I presume was an error. To paraphrase a well known historical(?) figure “may those who have not erred, right the first blog”….based on evidence presented here, it certainly appears that there are a whole lot of saintly bloggers out there! Talking of which….
    Dave Wise. Yes I noticed you were bald, but the comment was made with tongue firmly in cheek, and merely to highlight the absurdity of calling people names, be it “Nazi”, “Hippy” or whatever. I know my history rather well and would point out that post-war Britain is possibly the most liberal period in the nation’s history. We have freedoms that were never enjoyed by our grandfathers. The fact that you are allowed to bash on about water terrorism (or whatever your favourite conspiracy theory of the day may be) on here proves the point. I personally loathe the Daily Mail, but your particular brand of fanaticism puts even the rabid rantings of those readers in the shade. I am pleased and amused that your latest ramblings have merely served to seriously undermine the argument of the (fairly) sensible minority of people you are trying to support.
    This is my final word on the matter. Please do not confuse this with my conceding defeat (I could happily counter the kind of nebulous wooly thinking I am being subjected to on here, with the odd exception, all day) but rather I have more constructive things to do with my time. 再見

  141. So depressing.. and now I’m worried as I’m 6ft 2in, 17 stone and sometimes carry a medium format camera. I’ve been stopped once in Brighton by 2 PCSOs that claimed my Bronica was a terrorist range-finding device. I really can’t understand where they recruit these people from, and what use would they be if they came face to face with a real terrorist?

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  143. Iplod says: July 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm
    Yes, he was arrested (despite the police documentation showing otherwise) and the police have confirmed this to the British Journal of Photography and referred the matter to the IPCC. and

    Garrison K (are you from Lake Wobegon by chance?). I realise that you are surprised by the vehemence of the reaction to Alex’s arrest and object to the police being accused of running amok on the evidence of a single error. However, this is not an isolated incident. It’s a growing national problem that both professional and amateur photographers have been trying to highlight for some time and the response has to be viewed in this context. For some reason over the last couple of years police up and down the UK seem to have got it into their heads that perfectly legitimate non-commerical public photography is somehow illegal under terrorism or child abuse legislation, and that the larger the camera the dodgier the photographer. Threats have been made to professionals covering news stories, street photographers like Alex and tourists taking snaps in London who have been made to illegally delate their holiday photos. There have been many many individual apologies from police, assurances that it was an isolated mistake, a one-off that will never happen again. And it happens again and again and again (oh, and for some reason there’s always a PCSO involved. The less powers someone in a flourescent jacket has the more they try it on!). MPs have expressed concerns about this and there was a protest involving 400 professionals and amateurs outside New Scotland Yard in April which I took part in. What happened to Alex is the tip of a very nasty iceberg.

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  145. Congratulations on your stand, let me know if you need any help at any point (financial/physical) in fighting this and keep us informed of developments.

    Good luck…..Nick

  146. Incredible. Thanks for posting this. These bureaucrats & police who draft & implement these laws are destroying the very freedoms they say they want to protect. Its ridiculous. As if a real terrorist would be so blatant & attack a fish & chip shop. The female cop probably wanted to assert her authority & wanted to humiliate you to ‘show whos boss’. Absolutely disgusting.
    The bloke in the tracksuit trousers & no sleeves looks very sinister though.

  147. Garrison.K, thank you for your reply. A worrying aspect is that in this type of case errors can have severe impact on ordinary lives. You will no doubt have noticed that Alex mentions he has been stopped and searched around a dozen times – is this reasonable? Of course it could be sheer bad luck – I’ve photographed Chatham and Rochester and haven’t even been approached by the police (haven’t even seen any around at times – more worrying perhaps?). Certainly there is nothing to be gained by anyone vilifying the police service as a whole and I do not think that this was the intention behind the blog, but when the police can’t even fill in their own paperwork correctly, nor get the basic facts straight then I think it’s only right that the public should ask what their game is.

    Iplod – Let’s make an assumption that Alex is right when he states that he was handcuffed (and locked in a police van) – it’s impossible to be handcuffed and not know it, they’re not the most comfortable things to wear after all; and it hindered the search as he couldn’t reach inside his jacket for identification material. That’s an arrest, not a stop and search. On top of that he should have been told that he was under arrest and he should also have been cautioned. Add to that: the Assistant Chief Constable, in relation to this incident, freely admits that a man was arrested.

  148. (I should be ok as I’m only 5’9″) But after-all, standing outside Snappy Snaps with a camera in your hand is asking for trouble. They,re not a proper photography shop! 😉

  149. @ Pam Jackson –
    Q. Why has Mr turner been stopped a dozen times before, what was he doing?

    A. I was attending the Climate Camp last year at Hoo. I was searched everytime I arrived and left. I attended on three days. In January this year I was stopped whilst walking down Midland Road on my lunch break.

    Q. Was it his intention on that day to draw attention so this happend?
    A. No. I was using up film in my camera. I said that in my blog. I’m guessing you don’t believe me.

    Q. What about the rights of the decent members of the public whom want suspicious activity to be challanged?
    A. No problem with that though I don’t agree that openly using a camera in the high street in particularly suspicious.

    Q. Does he and other photographers also think its within their rights to photograph children in swimming pools and in play grounds etc?
    A. If you look at some of my other posts and my Flickr account (see the linkage tab at the top of the header) you’ll find I have taken pictures of my children on their school sports day. If you mean to collect images for nefarious reasons no I don’t. Bit of leap that one wasn’t it?

    I believe the actions of the council workers, the PCSO and the police were unjustified and unreasonable. I have complained. It’s one of the things that living in a democracy allows. The circumstances are not complex. It should not require a great deal of time or effort to investigate. Whether that will be the case or not remains to be seen.

    I blog and take pictures. Family stuff for posterity. A bit about Medway. It’s where I live. I do it to pass the time. You know. a hobby. Up till now I’ve done so without much attention from anyone. I’ve certainly not pursued the interest this has generated. That people are interested and have a view is the way it is. I get you don’t agree. I’d be surprised if everyone did. Pathetic joke – I guess that depends on your point of view and what that view is based on.

  150. Just read the story on the front page of the local paper. As an amateur photographer in Rochester, this almost prevents me from going out to take photos in public. How intolerable.

    There would be comedy in the situation, however, if it weren’t so indicative of the current state of affairs. Of course a terrorist would want to document and attack the location which would strike most fear into the hearts and minds of the British people: Chatham High Street. Obviously.

    I’ve been stopped by overzealous security guards at Canary Wharf, but so far I’ve avoided actual arrest. I will have to carry a print out of the met’s guidelines ( on photography in public and pray the PCSO is able to read it.

    I intend to dedicate a section of my website (my name should be clickable!) to photographic law in the UK (at some point), and with your permission I’d like to use this case as an example.

    On the plus side, this blog has introduced me to MedwayEyes, which I’ll be looking into further!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Michael A

  151. no offence mate but the people im sitting with reading this story (from the bbc to this blog) and to be honest someone not identifying themselves to me as a policewoman (if i was one) would see very odd and i would do exactly the same thing. you say they didnt show warrent cards, well then ask to see them and their id. as for handcuffs, you might not have tried to get away but who is to say that you wouldnt have done something if thwy had taken the handcuffs off you? you know you wouldnt but they have to think about their own protection.
    many would have done the same.
    next time just tell them what they want to know. people in this country moan when things arent stoped from happening. they moan when they are. if you told them your details you wouldnt have been arrested. and as for being traumatised? what a prima donna you are… i thought at first youd be saying you had been taken to the police station and locked up for hours with no reason but instead its just a stupid little moan you want to have. tsk

  152. Hi,
    I have just found the story of your arrest !
    I also became the interest of the police (3 police cars and 6 officers) for taking images in Medway. But i have to say my experience was a little different to yours.
    This was the image i was taking =
    It was the security guard that called the police and i duly waited for their arrival. Unlike yourself i was happy to provide proof of my identity and to allow officers to look at the images in my camera. They could not have been nicer, commenting on each image as good and bad, we had a good conversation about photography and everyone was satisfied i was not a terrorist ( working from a van with orange flashing beacons and wearing hi visibility clothing).
    Yes you have a right to take images of buildings as long as you are not on private property (dont even think of taking shots of Military sites in Medway … Dumb thing to do.) and you have the right to take images of people as long as they are not portraying them in a compromising situation or you are invading their privacy.
    By law you must provide proof of your identity if you refuse you will piss them off and you now know the result …

  153. I have e mailed Kent Police to express my disgust at what happened, it is a headline story in one of the local papers.

  154. https (the “s” means secure) :// london (dot) indymedia (dot) org (dot) uk
    report your troubles and any demonstrations at above address – you can do so anonymously
    Also checkout (scroogle) Marc Vallee whom you probably already know of, but just making sure 😉
    I wish you well – stay safe – and let’s make this a free country if atall possible

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  156. Those two idiots from Medway Council need to have their arses kicked, and as for the WPC – well, sometimes you find that WPCs tend to over-react to situations and attempt to exert their authority needlessly. Probably comes from an inferiority complex. Having said that, not all WPCs are like that, just some.

  157. I heard on my local news the other day that a man in Brighton who wore an anti Tony Blair and Gordon Brown T shirt to a Labour Party conference and was stopped and searched under the Section 44 terrorism act. It had transpired that before this act was introduced only 6 people across Sussex were stopped and searched but since this so called anti terror law was introduced the figure has peaked 4,000.
    If I wore a T shirt saying that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are warmongerers, liars and sell out merchants, I would bet my bottom dollar that I would be stopped and searched under section 44.
    To think that we were once the envy of the world for free speech, freedom of expression and assembly, now the country is virtualy an open prison. Frightenening isn’t it!!!

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  159. I am not going to go into wondering if here is more to this story than what is being presented. Why not accept the fact we do live in a dangerous era and allow the officers to go through their checks? I get the impression you made things even more difficult by not cooperating and even were a snob about it by not accepting their apologies for the inconveniencing you while doing what is required of them. I also wouldn’t doubt if your response to everything made the questioning more visible to people around you. The officers’ job is to keep you, me and everyone else safe. Allow them to do their job. They are not out to get you.

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  161. Pingback: Abusing section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 -

  162. Sleepwalking into a police state.

    Thank you for posting this; I hope you get a full apology and those involved in this deplorable indecent are either sacked or sent for re-training.
    I wish I could say I was surprised at this, but no.

    Try taking pictures on a railway station for fun.

    Power to the people, etc.

  163. Pingback: Kent Police clamp down on tall photographers : Federal Jack

  164. Juha, you miss the points by some distance I feel and Sarah obviously would like to be searched by every person who approaches her and says (with no ID) I’m an official.

    A PCSO is not (in the eyes of Sections 44 , 43 or 58a) a Police Officer and should be accompanied by a Police Officer when performing a search. The problem here is distinctly an interpretation by non-qualified civilian staff of very vague laws. That responsible Police Officers were then party to unnecessary arrest, detention ( a police vehicle can be considered as a police station ) and restraint is a sign of a deeper malaise.

    I have lived through and survived over 40 years of active terrorism threats in the UK and hope to continue to do so. Empowering a vast army of ‘security’ persons to enforce / pursue their version of UK law is not a price I am willing to pay in the name of terror prevention.


  165. Don’d blank out their face, this is a public interestissue and these clowns do not deserve the protection of anonymity to cover their disgraceful conduct.

  166. You may never get to reading this, but I have a lot of respect for your articulation of the importance of this matter. I live in New York. Very strangely, we don’t have it as bad as the UK recently does. I’m horrified by a lot of the things I’ve been reading recently. But we do have people who articulate the importance of and defend their rights here too. I think we all must continue to affirm ourselves against totalitarianism, and this post is pretty good inspiration to continue doing so. I hope you have success in the UK.

  167. @ anna – nothing in writing from Kent Police yet. They’ve verbally informed me that they’re seeking to wrap up their preliminary investigation early next week. The IPCC wrote to me to confirm the complaint had been referred to them and that they had decided it was a matter for Kent to investigate. Once I get Kent’s reponse I’ll make a decision whether or not to lodge an appeal with the IPCC. Either way I’ll do another post to follow up.

    @ gus. A version of the photo without their faces obscured has been published in various places online and in the printed press.

  168. Most posters are sympathetic with you and quite rightly so. I can only think that those who seem to believe that you got what you deserved are not photographers. I am a photographer (amateur) and have been stopped by police and had films seized in the past – for no good reason. I made a lot of fuss about it. It really has got to the point at which you can expect to be harrassed by police if you take photos in public. That is appalling. As I say, those who are not sympathetic are probably not photographers. They would probably have a different view if they got harrassed by police – or Council workers – when engaging in whatever leisure pursuits they follow. A minority of people have, sadly, said that you should have been more compliant. I think you were excessively compliant. If two blokes from the Council started asking me why I was taking photos they would get a very short answer – the second and final word would be “OFF!”

  169. The stupidity and dishonesty of all these officials is astounding and rightly self defeating. The authorities need to wake up quickly before the good people of these isles lose confidence in the policing system. Please remember that the LABOUR party and GORDON BROWN are ultimately responsible for these despicable infringements on our civil liberties. Get out and vote at the next election and don’t let them off the hook!

  170. Good on you. In 11 years Labour Govt has managed to create the same kind of climate of fear of police that existed in East Germany, The sooner we get a competent Govt into power the sooner we can start to unwind the police state we now all live in. As for the Police, they lost my respect long ago, but I cannot say anymore because I am not allowed to, seriously !!!!

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  173. The plain facts are that the police have acted unlawfully. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 section 3, subsection 3 states that a constable may only stop and search a person if he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence is being committed or you are in possession of drugs, stolen property or offensive weapons. A constable must ask your name but you are not obliged to provide it unless being arrested for an offence. That offence must exist and ‘acting suspiciously’ or ‘suspected of committing offences of taking photos of children (me)’ or ‘poss obtaining photos of sensitive buildings (Steve Carroll)’ do not amount to any offence known to law. It is important when venturing out with a camera to ensure that you have nothing on you with your name and address on. You should refuse to supply same and allow a search. If you supply your details, a report is made on the Police National Computer that will be very harmful to you in the event of an enhanced criminal records check. A report that you were stopped by police suspected of taking photos of children will even prevent you from working as a volunteer in a charity shop!

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  175. Take to the top and get that apology and is the only language the cops understand otherwise they just ignore and carry on like over bearing fools

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  178. Those individuals who have commented that it’s ‘all your own fault’ should be ashamed of themselves. Perhaps they should think hard about the conduct exhibited here by the police, and what this says about the future. Those purporting to be concerned about protecting their kids should perhaps wonder whether in 5, 10 or 15 years it will be their little bundle of joy who is being routinely harassed because of their name, hair or skin colour, size or because they are enganged in some innocuous activity the intellectually limited coppers of the day ‘just don’t get’. Knowing your rights and protecting them is the basis of a free society. The police fan club members who seem to see no wrong done here clearly believe that any rights are merely what the police decide give you. That this country is in such a poor state is largely down to them and their embarrassing, craven attitudes and blind obedience to whatever the guy in home office is the right thing to think. I am frankly ashamed to hold the same passport.

    “These times” are no different to any other times; the issues to be dealt with will not be made easier by simply handing over the dictation of right and wrong to people in uniforms, whatever the apparent good of their intentions. Without the fair application of real laws, this country is no better than the other supposedly repressive regimes the government so frequently criticises.

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  181. I’m not a photographer, and I think you were treated unfairly. I don’t get where this intense fear of photography has come from, considering that nearly everything can be found online, and if a terrorist wished to photograph something, all they would have to do is be more circumspect. Harassing photographers will in no way prevent terrorism. It actually promotes it.

  182. *sigh* I was planning my summer-vacation to Britain (and I was seriously considering Kent) this year. When I read about this treatment of photographers i will have to reconsider. I am a hobby-photographer and don´t want to spend my vacation-time with fending of paranoid policepersons.

    I hope you get your apology



  183. Dave,

    It it is also possible (as I have learnt the hard way) for the police to search you under the Terrorism Act, which has a quite different set of rules to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

    Either way, this shows the importance of knowing your rights as best you can. I would also encourage anybody who was been harassed in similar manner to write to their MP, as they made the wretched laws in the first place.


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  185. Referring to Steve Carrolls comment: “I can only think that those who seem to believe that you got what you deserved are not photographers.”. I can only think that they are not true Britons, with a keen sense of justice.

  186. Pingback: Yet another case of police stupidity when it comes to photography « Paw prints at the portal

  187. As I remember the High St Chavham has a number of cctv installations. These will most likely have recorded the interaction. Did the officer feel threatened by being recorded on these – obviously not as she would have taken action against the operators. So, why the concern at having her image on a digital camera where the cctv would record a longer and more comprehensive view of the interaction?

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  190. This happens too often in the UK for it to just be an issue of stupid and arrogant cops. I just has to be a policy, or training, or something. Cops often have policies that aren’t policies, such as giving extra harassment to political people the interact with. That’s not written down anywhere; but you can bet 8/10 times that if you interact with cops at anything at all political they will be much more violent and intimidating than if it’s a rowdy baseball game or a crowded rock concert.
    Cowardly swine. They all will tell say they just want to enforce the law, but they don’t. They often go beyond what the law allows, which shows that they don’t actually believe in it, and that they are comfortable being criminals. Just being a cop you have more opportunity and peer pressure to commit crimes than 95% of the populace outside of high school.
    This in not a matter of individual bad cops for the most part. I’m sure their disgusting cop culture, and subtle messages about what laws to enforce and how to treat different kinds of people, intimidate lots of nice people who happen to be cops into acting as bad as they are told.
    I’m Canadian by the way, and here we get less of this crazy, paranoid photograph nonsense, but enough of other cop crime like assaults, unjustified taserings, intimidation, racist violence, etc. etc. Everyone should carry a videocamera at all times. It’s the only thing that makes them tell the truth in court.
    A year or two ago some of our federal cops killed a guy in an airport who was acting strange and was holding a stapler. He spoke Polish, so instead of finding someone to speak to him in Polish, they zapped him multiple times, and were caught on video doing it. At court they lied through their teeth in front of the entire country, then were contradicted by the video, and then changed their stories. Then recordings of them talking on their way to investigate this Polish guy revealed that they were talking about tasering him before even seeing the situation, let alone trying to resolve it without violence. They just lied to the entire country, in court, and no one apologized, nothing. If anyone else did that, they would be in jail for manslaughter, if not second degree murder, because they talked about it beforehand, and they’d have had the book thrown at them for blatantly lying on the stand. But these are cops, so it’s somehow ok.
    Rant over. I’m really sorry you were harassed by police. You are very brave to stand up to them. Hopefully with cell phone cameras and youtube fascist police overreach eventually be beaten back and they will obey the laws they enforce.

  191. Alex,
    I don’t think you’re going to get much satisfaction from the police. The fact that the Area Commander for Medway, the officer in charge of the police investigating the complaint against their colleagues, has issued a public statement saying they did nothing wrong, doesn’t bode well! Personally I think it’s unprofessional for him to pre-empt the results of an investigation by his subordinates. I suspect you’ll end up appealing to the IPCC. Have you got yourself a lawyer (preferably a member of the police actions lawyers group)?

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  193. The comment from Canadian Chiam James is most appropriate, given the events of 1 April concerning Ian Tomlinson. Here we saw the police and IPCC both state that Tomlinson simply collapsed and died on his way home. However, footage taking by concerned bystanders later comprehensively disproved this and showed what really happened. Despite what the police say, it has never been more important that we monitor their activities to provide incontrovertible evidence of their wrongdoing. As to how police interference with photographers actually started, I have long tried to work this out. I can only conclude that it is a mixture of child protection nonsense, wholly irrational fears of terrorism and a reluctance for people to film on digital and post onto websites that forms a type of broadcasting that the government is unable to control. I have certainly learnt a great deal more since getting broadband and am grateful to people like Alex Turner for providing such an informative account of his experiences in this field.

  194. What the police did was against the law. All you have to do is prove they acted illegally, then prosecute them for doing so.
    Good luck with that one.
    As the old saying has it, an early arrest is not expected…
    Welcome to Soviet Britain

  195. Yes and no” yes” It could have been handled perhaps in a more tacful manner. Was it unwarranted or unreasonable to question given the way the World is today? No! Perhpas the women Officer should not have fished for a personal reason in the first place. It would have taken me by surprise also where i would ask myself why on Earth anyone such as a Plice Officer would want to provide some or any silly reason as to why a Photo should not have been taken? Nuts! I should have been arrested long ago.
    Was it fair to ask for your Identity. Yes! considering the circumstances re terrorism. I would have given them the cooperation and i and done so. Because you choose not to and you acted defensivily because you may have felt offended more by the Female Officers reasoning for objecting to you having her Photograph taken got you in a more lenghtly strife. Your feelings obviously elevated even more and you became more uncooprative. Understandably so” Everyone handles things differently.
    I too would have been very surprised by an Officer giving me such an explanation as to why she felt offended? In reality she should have been up front and said to you that they would like to question you as to why you are taking photos. From there on you should have been informed as to why it is they are asking; They should have then stated the truth and said because of terrorism ans security issues. I am sure most of us would have reacted more understandingly from tha point on. I think if it was handled in that way that you more than likely would have cooperated with them. I hope the Police have learned something from this too.
    Cheers” Ray

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  198. You sound like the worst kind of idiot to me. The initial officer was harsh and wrong I agree. You must realise that when one police officer starts something however silly or mistaken it may be, and let’s be honest the typical policeman is not the brightest, it must be followed up properly. Everyone makes mistake and has bad days etc and when you’re in a job with public responsibility your errors can cause disruption. Why could you not simply provide your details when asked initially? Have you something to hide or do you just have an attitude problem? It sounds to me like you could have avoided all of the disruption by providing your details, and everyone involved could have returned to real anti-terrorism work.

    I’m not a photographer but I have heard of other cases where people have been asked to identify themselves or move on. Perhaps if this did not occur terrorists would be taking pictures of potential targets; I don’t know but if it only means providing ID then what’s the harm?

    I think perhaps you should be arrested again for wasting police time, with your clear ambition of gaining personal publicity and/or financial gain. Stop playing the victim and wasting peoples time.

  199. As to the worst kind of idiot; I reckon spouting off ill informed and poorly considered views are a characteristic feature. Cold comfort no doubt but you should know that you’re not alone.

  200. @Jack: “…with your clear ambition of gaining personal publicity and/or financial gain…playing the victim”.

    You don’t have to be photographer for something like this to happen to you (but it helps). Perhaps one day you will find ourself in a similar situation. Perhaps then you will develop an opinion that is actually intelligent, articulate and informed.

  201. I was shocked to read this, but also not shocked at all. I prefer Germany, where at least in Berlin the police are still human beings with some sense of decency. Officer Pies and officer WPC Neurosis there had no right to do what they did, and having been stopped by the police before in the Medway towns I do understand. I too was doing nothing illegal, but they were quite threatening. Britain only ever had the illusion of being a free country. I say we cut off the head of the serpent and send the royals into a peaceful retirement somewhere else.

  202. The Police, “The Council” and all their agents of oppression are looking to stop terror; do they not realise that they are working for ‘The State Terror Department’.

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  204. If it is now an occupational hazard for photographers to be stopped by the police, isn’t there some kind of organisation you belong to that can issue some kind of of recognised membership card that can be produced for the police, that they will also be aware of? Although, there’s always the possibility that terrorists could abuse that, so I’m talking myself out of that idea.

    Got to be honest, as a member of the public, I’d rather you to be stopped than not, if it means they do prevent another 7/7. Sorry. Just ID yourself next time – like I say, if it’s happening to all of you, then you should be used to it. And surely, if you’re photographing the local area, the local police will get to know you, won’t they? Perhaps those of you embarking on this endeavour should pop along or put something in writing to Medway police, explaining who you are and what you do – maybe that will help avoid the situation in the future.

    I personally have no problem with the police and I get a little pissed off with people making their job harder than it already is. I’m not saying there aren’t bad cops, but there are bad sorts in any batch of people – including photographers, I expect.

    In my job, I have tons of red tape crap and processes I have to follow, which inconvenience some individuals – however, without those processes in place, many more people would be victims. It’s the ‘needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ I’m afraid.

  205. Why on earth would a terrorist walk around with a camera taking photos when they’ve got Google Earth and Google Streets??

  206. Lets be honest with advances like google maps etc why would terrorists even need to go out and take photos! I guess police have targets to stop X amount of people per day.

  207. Pingback: Man Arrested Under Terrorism Act For Being Too Tall - Skinny News

  208. These stories are getting more and more common. It puts me off the idea of photography, Its like I am being made to feel guilty of taking photos in public places, like I am going to use a picture to co-ordinate a terrorist attack? Get real – where is the target of importance in that particlar high street? If you were wanting to use photography to plan an attack, you would want to be subtle and probably use a cameraphone or hidden camera not a DSLR. Also how would you lot who are saying things like “Got to be honest, as a member of the public, I’d rather you to be stopped than not, if it means they do prevent another 7/7.” like to be stoppped every time you get your mobile phone out? You could be talking to a member of your “cell” planning details of your attacks, or photographing targets. When something starts to affect you personally maybe you will feel different.
    I dont see why I should have to report to a police station every time I plan on going out to enjoy my hobby, do you? Are you also pro ID card by any chance?

    Welcome to 1984.

  209. Jane

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you on this, as you seem to be saying that if unwarranted police interference is commonplace, then you ought to just suck it up. (“if it’s happening to all of you, then you should be used to it”).

    Photography is a perfectly legal and legitimate activity, undertaken by both amateurs and professionals. You don’t need to be a member of any professional body and issued with a membership card to snap away on a camera and mobile phone. I’m horrified that you think a perfectly acceptable solution is to have people apply to the police in writing giving all their personal details and explaining why they want to take photographs before snapping away. If you’re planning to behave legally you should not need to seek permission from the state. What other activities would you suggest also need prior approval from the police?

    Alex was courteous enough to explain to the police why he was taking photographs, despite provocation by council officials. However he was arrested for failing to provide ID – which he was perfectly entitled to do so. Aside from the obvious point that identity does not prove intent, it’s not a good idea to give the police more information than you need to. Checks such as this are logged on to force criminal intelligence databases and can come back to haunt you later. Alex is actually lucky that he’s not one of those innocent people whose DNA and fingerprints are now retained on the national criminal database.

    I completely agree that people should not make life hard for the police carrying out their job. That’s not the same as allowing officers to do exactly as they want, regardless of the law. When that’s the case we need to object strongly. Police officers have a huge amount of power, and if you allow them to abuse it with a small group of people (although I’d argue that a lot of people take photos!), then they’ll quickly move on to abusing it with the wider population. The only reason the Terrorism Act was used in this case it that it’s the piece of legislation that gives the police the most power over the population (Section 44 allowing them to search anyone, anytime, without any suspicion.) Even the government’s own appointee to oversee this Act, Lord Carlisle, has said the police are misusing it on a massive scale.

  210. @ Jane – If someone uses their position of authority to request information then they ought to know what powers they have to do so. I said to the council officers, the PCSO and the WPC that it was my belief there was no law applicable under the circumstances at the time that obliged me to provide my details to them however if they were able to tell me otherwise then I would give my details as requested. They either could not or would not so I didn’t. Seems fair enough to me.

    @ Daniel – Don’t let it put you off. In the grand scheme of things incidents like mine are comparitivly rare given the number of people that use cameras in public. Having said that I still think it’s important to follow up on percieved misuses of authority and police powers. The bottom line is I was wrongly (if not unlawfully) arrested and detained. Whether the circumstances were do to with photography or not the police should be able to account for their actions or formally apologise for any shortfalls. I’m still waiting for either of these things to happen.

    @ Catkins. Thanks again. You views and comment are helpful as ever.

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  212. I am in full support of you to exercise your freedoms but reference
    “Quote” I know a fair few people may say serves you right for a number of reasons. My response to that is it will serve you right when you wake up one day and realise you don’t live in a free country anymore.

    I have to inform you that this is already the case since I have fallen foul of the “Law” many times even although I have never broken the law and don’t even drive a car, an option I decided upon after being stopped by the Police many times and even on one occasion arrested and charged with stealing my own car that had not been reported stolen.

    I decided to stop driving because the Police threatened my personal safety forcing me off the road with their car even although I was not committing any offence, and were on each occasion extremely forceful and offensive not unlike the school boy bullies they always were.

    In addition I was taken into custody on another occasion at my own bank where I had been taken by my father who was waiting nearby. I was taken handcuffed to the Kenley Police station whereupon I was heavily coerced (fill in the blanks) and finally signed a confession to using the alleged stolen chequebook which was in fact my own property. I had on this occasion been discharged that very day from hospital after a major injury and without my father I could not easily find my way home. When the Police released me they refused to allow me to use their phone or give me cash for the phone. I could access no cash since they left the evidence my cheque book at the bank. I asked the how I should get home and they just laughed. That was in 1978 but more recently on 10th August 2005 which you may remember was soon after the unfortunate Jean Charles Demenez execution at Stockwell I fell foul of the Police again.

    On this occasion I was interrogated naked against a wall by a five strong armed Police SWAT team after they let themselves in and dragged me out of my own bed at gunpoint. My only crime against society is that I have a disability. The case was put into the hands of the IPPC who it is my belief are in the pockets of the Police who themselves eventually investigated the assault on me and finally warned me not to put in a claim against them.

    At no time would they tell me why I had been attacked by the Police who were extremely un-pleasant their demeanour that I was already convicted guilty and even today they will not tell me that I am no longer under investigation or surveillance. Last year I was leaving the country and because I am so afraid now of the Police I sought their permission to leave. They said they could not say that I was no longer being investigated and that it was up to me if I left the country. It did not surprise me when against my better judgement I travelled and at Detroit airport during a connection I was detained, my passport and all my possessions confiscated and then interrogated for two hours.

    I am living in my own country in constant fear, I have not slept soundly since the attack by the Police on my home, and I live in fear because I know that we live in a Police state where the Police believe if you douse them in petrol they are so far above the law that they are FIREPROOF and get promoted when they themselves break the law as we saw with Jean Charles Demenezez.

    My real concern is, if I become the victim of crime who do I call because the Law is not represented equitably by the Police and I am not availed protection either from crime or Police and the two are difficult to differentiate in my opinion.

    Make no mistake the Gestapo jackboot is right here right now.

  213. Blimey, so the police woman feels intimidated by a camerea!!

    She would be a jibbering wreck if she had to face a hardened criminal with a baseball bat, sounds like she is it the wrong job.

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  215. Good on monaxle! It would appear that you can only join the police if you totally lack any form of common sense or, if you have any in the first place, agree to renounce it on joining. North Korea has arrived in the UK.

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  217. Can you imagine the piss taking the WPC got from her collegues. ” Dont move I have a loaded camera” or ” are you posing for the police gazzette”

    The woman is a disgrace to her uniform, she lacked courage and judgment.

  218. Hi Alex,

    I am the reporter for the BBC Politics Show South East and I would like to see if you are able to do a short interview for me please? If you could email me at [email protected] I will give you much more information.

    Many thanks.


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  220. Now if anyone remembers flashmobs, this strikes me as the perfect opportunity for one. Get as many people down in Chatham High Street with a camera to stand and take pictures for just 2 minutes. Wonder how they’d handle 2 or 300 people all taking pictures.

    Probably send in the SAS.

  221. Not sure what your getting at Jessica though I have an idea. Is the misspelling a ploy to get around the councils filters? Why not comment again when you leave work and make it clear what you really mean. Thanks.

  222. So the up shot is??
    leme guess
    If you have 10K spare you can push the matter to court but have been advised not to.
    No further appollogy has been forth comming other than a rehash of the response sent to “the register” online blog.
    You have been stopped ??? times since but have always provided id and an address if asked.

    Have you filed for info (uner freedom of information) about searches enquiries made about you conducted by council staff or the constabulary?

    And the shape shifting figures “from the council” ???

    (An update please! or if you have done so an easy link to it from the top of the page )

  223. @ Ru – Seeming as you ask: the upshot is that the police have yet to decide on their written response. They are aware that I will post the response here when it comes and that in all probability it will be subjected to close scrutiny by many others apart from me.

    The inspector that’s got the job of dealing with it has told me that they (Kent Police) want to get it right. The inspector phoned me on Monday. I was told that the complaint investigation report has now been submitted and reviewed by other more senior officers.

    The inspector described two ways that this could go now. One option was that he could make a recommendation that compensation is paid to me, that I have sight of a sanitised version of the report and that I receive a verbal account of the investigation, it’s findings and any recommendations made / action taken. The inspector indicated that by accepting this option would in effect draw a line under the complaint i.e. resolution. The other option is to continue to pursue the outcomes I set out in my letter of complaint. The inspector told me that if I chose the second option then it may take a bit longer to conclude as any written response would first need to be cleared by their legal advisors. The inspector did not seek to influence my response.

    Though at a glance the first option may not seem that different from the second I’ve chosen to pursue the outcomes described in my letter.

    Kent Police are still within their own time scales for responding formally. I have been kept up to speed with the process via unannounced visits to my door and telephone calls.

    By my reckoning in order for Kent Police to to meet their aim of resolving complaints within 120 days they have until the 5th of November. That’s fine by me.

    Thanks for asking and being interested.

  224. Even the bits of Jessica’s post that weren’t deliberately mangled are grammatically incorrect…

    Jessica @, the correct contraction is “You’re”… Derived from “You are”.

    E.g. You’re making a fool of yourself.

  225. Perhaps Jessica’s employer should be informed about a possible misuse of council IT equipment, breach of council computer use policy, or misuse of employer’s time (as well as the obvious lack of drafting ability)?

  226. Alex
    It’s up to you which of the options you’ll eventually settle upon, but a few issues to consider. I’d make sure you clarify how the first option is officially recorded should you choose that route. ‘Resolution’ sounds like ‘local resolution’ which I believe (although I’m not 100%) is not counted as an upheld complaint against the police. If you look at the IPCC’s reports you’ll see that they claim only 10% of complaints are upheld, but over 45% of complaints are ‘locally resolved’. Hmmmmm. If things don’t affect the stats, will things change?

    Although you said the officer in charge was not trying to influence your decision, he seems to be indicating there’ll be money upfront if you go the police’s preferred route. Also, if you go for the informal resolution why are they only going to give you a “sanitised version” of the report, a verbal account and not address and pursue all the important issues raised in your complaint? Would accepting an early resolution result in no action being pursued against the council officials who kicked all this off?

    You’ve been arrested, abused and assaulted in public. In your position I’d hang on for the complete investigation. The fact that they’re talking about compensation and resolution already would indicate they know there’s been a huge screw up.

    I don’t know if you are aware of the case of David Mery, which has similarities with yours. His blog is
    He’s finally pursued his case to the bitter end and as a result the police have agreed to delete his DNA (I know you avoided this) but also completely wipe his arrest from the PNC and other police records. This will obviously make matters such as security clearance, enhanced CRBs, visas etc easier in future. It’s important that you are put back in exactly the same position with officialdom and its databases you were before you were arrested. You don’t want to apply for a CRB to help out at your kids’ school in 5 years time and find their intelligence database has you down as Medway’s answer to Osama Bin Laden!

    Good luck with whatever route you take.

  227. I applaude you Alex. You have made a stand against the bullying police State. Only today I filmed 3 PCSOs ouside a bank where there seemed to be some incident in progress. They descended on me quoting the anti terrorist law and and demanded my identity. basically I declined with the comment “No, do your worst” and they suddenly lost interest. I even have a portion of it on video. I made the point I am entitled to walk down the high street and film what I like without intervention from the Poliuce/PCSO. (For the moment at least)

    Chris, Wembley

    • Good on you. Well done for standing your ground. The fact that the PCSOs backed down so quickly illustrates nicely the ridiculousness of their intervention.

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  229. Alex,

    I’ve just read about this incident for the first time, and it’s made my blood boil. Unfortunately, it hasn’t actually surprised me.

    It was for incidents like this that the “Terrorism” act was brought in.
    It was nothing to do with protecting people from Terrorism.
    These kind of incidents are going to occur more frequently, and get even worse. If you think we live in a police state now, it’s going to be far worse in years to come.

    This incident happened because those officers had the power to carry it out. They infringed your rights because they wanted to. They used the Terrorism act as an excuse.

    Now humour me for a second and try and go with this just for a moment – imagine if a small number of people wanted a lot of power over the masses. If they just came along and demanded it, there would be outrage. A much better way for them way to do it, would be to make everyone want to live under their control or even ask for it. Wouldnt it? So how could this group of people make this happen?
    1. Create a problem.
    2. Watch the reaction.
    3. Provide the solution.

    1. Blow up the world trade center and tell everyone the terrorists are coming. ( Much like Hitler burning down the Reichstag in the 30s as an excuse to kick off witht he Polish).
    2. Watch every become frigthened and start hating the “enemy”/
    3. Offer the solution of protecting them by removing their freedom.

    Its been done many times before. Governments of the world have done it throughout history. Its a documented fact.

    Spend half an hour researching the 9/11 event and you’ll be staggered.
    A police apology and and compensation might make you feel good, and I hope you get it. But its irrelevant and won’t change anything.
    The real people who have screwed you over aren’t the police. It was a group of globalist elites. They run the banking system, the military, the corporations and the media.

    You probably think I’m nuts. .. Before you say so though, how many buildings do you think collapsed at ground zero on 9/11? If you think it was 2, then look into the stuff I’ve listed below. You’re in for a shock.

    Watch this:
    and this:
    as a start. And then google these
    9/11 thruth
    Bilderberg Group
    Council on Foreign Relations
    Trilateral Commission

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  232. Hi Alex

    For a number of reasons I am growing increasingly concerned by the police’s apparent lack of knowledge of the law relating to their interaction with the public and the bullish way in which they exercise their perceived powers.

    I am in the process of researching this and wondered if it would be possible to speak with you at some point.


  233. Pingback: Photos are dangerous! « the camera strap

  234. Pingback: I fought the law and… I WON!!! | monaxle : blog

  235. I agree that the conduct of all concerned (except the photographer) is appalling, it would appear that the knowledge of our police force with regard to the law is going downhill rapidly.

    I hope you persue your claim as stated and especially with regard to the two men who did not provide you with any id at all, yet expected you as a law abiding citizen to provide them with yours and answer their questions.

    It was clearly wrongful arrest and they have used the anti terror laws as an excuse to stop you going about your lawful business.

    Good luck for the future and well done for fighting for the people’s rights.

  236. As a keen amateur photographer I have fallen foul of Section 44, but not to the extent you have. I found this blog when searching for info on Section 44 after looking at this on the BBC News website ( Seems it effects amateurs and professionals alike. I’m surprised that photographers haven’t banded together to press their case against the application of this ignominious legislation or do you know better?

    • Hi Rebecca – There have and are a number of campaigns on the go to press the case against the misapplication / misinterpretation of current legislation. Check Amateur Photography magazine and the British Journal of Photography for two such examples.

  237. Pingback: I am not a Terrorist”: ‘Not A Crime’ photography Campaign: (up-date) « moof

  238. Just coming to this late on a link from the new story on reigning in the police abuses
    Good on you Alex, I`m from Rainham but live in Tokyo. I went back home last year and walked around the old Medway towns for a bit of a photographic tour (urban decay and renewal and all that) Of course i had heard about the draconian laws and heavy-handedness of the police and it really made taking pictures no fun at all. I was constantly watching my back, worried when i would have to defend myself and, having brushed up on my rights before i went, standing up for them. Seems the police hold all the cards they can get you on obstruction when they find their initial reasoning pointed out as absurd.
    It will take a while to get better me thinks.
    Off to look at your pictures now.

  239. Pingback: John Humphrys gets battered | monaxle : blog

  240. Britain has always had more than its fair share of officious and entirely ignorant people who enjoy bossing others around. Previously our culture restrained these people. Now New Labour have given them uniforms and a title – PCSO.

  241. You should publish the names, numbers and photographs (no blurring) of the police officers concerned: name them and shame them, that’s the least they deserve, the pigs.

  242. What the police seem to forget as they victimise innocent citizens is that they (the police) need our cooperation to fight crime; by alienating us they are destroying the once fairly good relationship between police and public which is an entirely self-defeating and retrograde attitude and will harm both public and police.

  243. Pingback: From snapshot to police search: how camera made me a terror suspect | The Guardian World News

  244. I’d just like to make a couple of small but important points. The officer who completed the search form gave the grounds as “Prevention of terrorism”. I’m fairly sure they should have to put something more specific than that, even if it was something as baseless as “Taking photographs of public buildings”

    The other point is that the “Object” box is just crossed out. The Terrorism box should surely be ticked. Before conducting a search (at least a normal stop/search for stolen property etc; I’m not certain with s44), the officer has to tell you their grounds and the object of the search. Neither appear to have been done correctly, and I suspect these little points would be relevant in pursuing your complaint.

  245. Pingback: From snapshot to police search: how camera made me a terror suspect | We-found-it

  246. Pingback: Snap that tested terror laws to the limit : Bloggii – The Global News Aggregator

  247. I am a writer and photographer who has done a lot of street photography in the past. Happily I have not been subject to police harrassment when taking photographs, but I know that this kind of police behaviour has become oppressively prevalent in the last couple of years. I think you have been overly considerate by not naming and shaming the officers concerned, and publishing the photo with the police woman’s face unobscured. These people are a real threat to our freedoms and they should be exposed.

  248. Mass photography session in Trafalgar Square, 23rd Jan:
    and another interesting item re. a painter (of all people) being questioned by police whilst producing a charming watercolour of a factory near London City Airport. Decidedly low-tech way (and slow) of gathering terrorist information I would have thought:

  249. Pingback: Photography and terrorism: your rights « Dom Turner: Freelance Photographer, Designer, Programmer & Writer

  250. I have read your article with interest, one thing to ask the police was at the time you were stopped had Chatham High Street been designated by the Chief Constable of Kent as an “authorised area” for S44 of the Terrorist Act?
    If Chatham High Street was not an authorised area, to my knowledge only the railway system in Kent is (policed by British Transport Police) then this is an unlawful arrest.
    Under Freedom of Information Act, Kent Police should be able to advise you of this. If you haven’t already get a solicitor!
    I have recently taken up photography, live in Medway and worried now!

  251. Thought you might like to see this one:
    “The Love Police do an amazing job demonstrating how to get out of being searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Stopped by police outside the Tower of London, they avoid being searched, having to give their personal details and having their camera film looked at simply by stating the law, remaining calm and polite. (Although keeping the video camera rolling probably helped too.) The police sent an Inspector (rather senior), two Sergeants, five officers and four police cars. But in the end they walk away.”

  252. A couple of items just surfaced which seem to indicate that the police are still making up the law as they go along and being heavy-handed in the process. Obviously not learnt their lesson yet.
    I have to say, reading these makes my blood boil. Just who do some of these jobs-worthy people think they are? The item about not being allowed to take pictures of your own child, even though the scene was otherwise deserted, is nothing short of ludicrous.

  253. Couple of interesting items:

    Believe the Met. guidelines may have been slightly altered. The part I found relevant was: “The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.” which seems at odds with the “opinions” of some of the officers involved in harassment of photographers and it would seem that there is not a lot they can do to stop photographs being taken in public areas, regardless.

  254. Wha…..? Makes me want to dress up with a big bushy beard and descend on Chatham High Street with 999 other amateur or pro photographers to take photos of the police going about their public duties. What idiots, what prats. How dare they.

  255. Agree. The new guidelines might actually and finally stop some of those officers who (as has been said before), appear to be making up new laws just to suit themselves as they go along! The implications of their actions possibly being unlawful (as in the case of Alex’s arrest) might have the desired chilling effect.

  256. Looks like London City Police still don’t seem to have got the message:
    and more on that here:
    The plod are certainly not doing themselves any favours. Power-crazy, I call it. Someone’s wrist needs a severe slapping, in my opinion. If true, the way this guy was treated is absolutely appalling. Just where has his phone been spirited away to?

  257. thats my friends fish and chip shop who you was taking photos of also i am very well know to medway police especilly the under covers they are c***** i used to be a known drug dealer whilst the police had rights to search me they always used excessive force to do so ie stripping me naked beating me up and touching me in places where they should not have been sick the offices in plain clothes was probbably cid i could never make an offical complaint as they done this in there search cell at gillingham which has no cameras so i could not prove what they did they are no better than the criminals who break the law!

  258. Pingback: Police State England | Phase Variance

  259. A few more items in the same vein:

    • You’re keeping a good watching brief on all this! In today’s news –

      The European court of human rights has rejected an attempt by the UK government to appeal a judgment over its stop-and-search powers.

      The decision means that a January 2010 court judgement which found section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be illegal is final.

      “This appeal was always doomed,” said Isabella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty.

      “The objectionable policy of broad stop and search without suspicion was wrong in principle and has proven divisive and counterproductive in practice.”

      The original court judgement in the case of Gillan and Quinton v the United Kingdom found that section 44 violated the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights.

      In April 2010 the government requested that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber – a request which was roundly rejected today.

      Campaigners are hoping that the coalition government will use the judgement to repeal the law.

      “The ‘great repeal bill’ promised by the new government provides the perfect opportunity for the UK finally to comply with this common sense judgment,” Ms Sankey said.

      The case originally arose when Pennie Quinton and Kevin Gillanwere were subjected to stop-and-search and prevented from attending a protest against an arms fair in the Excel centre of London’s Docklands in 2003.

      Media interest and parliamentary questions eventually revealed that the whole of Central London had been secretly designated a stop-and-search area since 2001.

      The designation allows police to search members of the public without any suspicion that they intend to engage in illegal activities.
      Wed, 30 June 2010

  260. Pingback: Anti terrorist advert - Page 2 - Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles: forums

  261. A follow-up to to my September 6th post. A quote from “The EPUK Weekly News Round Up”:
    ACPO: Police have no power to delete photos
    The Association of Chief Police Officers has told local police forces “Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.”
    More here:
    Download ACPO’s letter here:
    The letter could not really be made any clearer! Worth printing off and perhaps laminating in a smaller size to show police, if need be! The Sussex police incident seems to need clarification, though.

  262. After the War, it was noted that most of the SA and Gestapo officers beating people up in the streets or seeking to criminalise the least indication of dissent were not ideologues deluded by Hitler, but cowards and bullies who leapt at the opportunity they would never otherwise have had to wield unquestioned power, and that “nice” British people would do the same. Over the last few years, the Police have been providing increasing evidence for that, jumping eagerly at every opportunity to show people “who is in charge”, bending the law, hiding their ID, covering up for each other, all comfortable in the knowledge that senior officers will bend over backwards to avoid penalising them.
    In the same way, it’s now coming out not just that “our brave lads” in Iraq etc have been torturing and murdering civilians, like the SS, but also that officers way up the chain of command, as well as senior civil servants and politicians were conniving at it, and trying to ensure it never came into the open, so that no-one would be punished.

  263. they are just doing what they are told to do think how you would react if there had been a major terror attack because they fail to do that procedure u guys would be pissed at them as well

    eod police are not liked but thy are there because the goverment wants them

    just give the officers ur details and go about ur day 🙂 everyone is happy
    you can take phots and the police can do paper work

  264. To Daniel Rigby:
    It seems to me that you have a very short-sighted viewpoint. The point here is that the police have no right to your details if your photography is not illegal, which it most certainly is not, as stated and confirmed many times by senior officers, so why the hell should they have them? This is absolutely nothing to do with terrorist attacks, imagined or otherwise – just plod making up something to harass street photographers. I would suggest that if you were on the receiving end of one of these encounters, your opinion might be very different.

  265. After things seemed to have gone a bit quiet on the subject of police harassment of photographers, this article has some relevance:
    Follow the links for more information. Some old news, but that’s the first I’ve heard of the City Of London police “suggesting” that photographers should carry ID and be prepared to answer questions about why they are taking photographs. Why should they do either if taking photographs in a public place is a perfectly lawful activity? It’s been said before but that looks like yet another example of plod making things up as they go along to suit themselves outside the framework of the laws of the land.

    • I remember seeing this when it was first mooted. They shouldn’t be surprised when their requests for unwarranted disclosure is met with a polite not today officer.

  266. Another relevant article, although I had not heard of the original incident. Two years seems a rather long time for a response, whereas Alex’s complaint was dealt with in a fairly timely manner, perhaps because it was more serious, with an actual arrest involved.
    ‘Arguably with the assistance of hindsight the officer could have handled this incident differently, from a public confidence and satisfaction perspective’
    Ha! What waffle!

  267. Talking of section 44…………..
    Caution – bad language in the comments.
    I suppose this means that if it goes through, it will give the police carte blanche to do anything they like (within a limited time period and geographic location, of course!), including what is now the old chestnut of harassing photographers for no good reason. Since when did police MAKE the laws? Always understood that it was parliament’s job to do that.

  268. It does not seem radically different to what they have been able to justify through various different pieces of legislation over the years. How it is written and applied will make the difference. There is little to persuade me things will be any better this time round.

  269. LOL Dave you’re the man! Thanks for sticking with this for so long. I feel like we should have met by now given the contributions you’ve made to this post. If ever you’d like to do that send me a message via the contact button. We’re only a town away from each other.

  270. Thanks Alex. I am still hanging on in there, as I get very incensed when I read about our so-called guardians of the law taking it upon themselves to invent ways of stopping legal photography instead of busying themselves going after REAL criminals. In the meantime, take a look at:
    for yet ANOTHER example of police making up a new law and quoting a non-existent restriction!
    I really don’t understand why the message just hasn’t sunk in yet.

  271. It looks like some police have got the message at last, unlike some so-called security staff! See this little experiment:

  272. Pingback: Police issue their own “Fatwa” on Commie photographers :) No-one likes you haha « Casuals United Blog

  273. I don’t wish to sound churlish but isn’t this somewhat old news? I would hope that plod would be a tad more enlightened by now!

  274. Pingback: Wonder if it will happen over here | Orphans of Liberty

  275. Police have no power to delete pictures or demand they be deleted. That has to be decided by a court order. I thought that police had to have “reasonable suspicion” to use section 44. Taking photographs on the street or in a public area is not reason in itself (as has been stated by high-ranking officers) and the police would be over-stepping the mark, referring to Alex’s little encounter with force members who seemed to have made it up as they went along.

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