arrest : the latest

To follow on from my last post; I was contacted by the Investigating Officer (IO) from Kent Police this morning. He confirmed that their barrister holds the view that my arrest was unlawful. The IO said that being the case then the subsequent search would also have been unlawful. Though the IO never mentioned it I presume that means my detention in the back of the police van was unlawful as well.

What happens next? The IO said that the Professional Standards Department (PSD) of Kent Police would now consider his report and the recommendations he has made. The IO said the PSD would write to me with a copy of the report and with any other information they decide to convey. The IO said that the report may be “sanitised” in parts though felt that it was largely fine as it was.

The IO said that he thought I got a “raw deal” on the day of my arrest. He said that my arrest was in part a consequence of the strong message given to the police on the ground, council officers and such like about being alert to potential terrorist threats. The IO said that as there were quite fortunately few terrorist activities in Kent, regular officers generally have a low level of knowledge  of anti terrorist legislation. The IO said that Kent Police has launched county wide awareness raising training of anti terrorist legislation to address this shortfall.

Notwithstanding the general lack of knowledge described the IO said that the officers involved had not in his view acted very sensibly. The IO offered the view that the officer in question had resorted to arrest simply because they could.

The IO apologised for the way I was treated. He thanked me for my patience regarding the time it had taken to reach a decision. He explained that it had taken the time that it had as “special branch” referred to the fact that the burden of proof required to lawfully arrest under terrorist legislation was somewhat less than it is under other legislation. He indicated that they thought my arrest was lawful, which he said went against the findings of his investigation hence referral to legal council.

The call ended.

So now I wait to hear from the Professional Standards Department. I’ll post what I get when I get it. Thanks for the continued interest and support.


  1. The only terrorist activity I’d seen in Chatham is the local council who seem intent on destroying the place.

    Well done, and good on you for sticking to your guns (maybe not a good choice of word!).

  2. Steve’s post made me chuckle. Nice one.
    To the issue….yes…it’s great news. A strike for the law-abiding citizen, for a change.
    ‘I presume that means my detention in the back of the police van was unlawful as well.’
    A very good point. I wonder if this can go further.

  3. Not been in Medway since I ‘escaped’ some five years ago, but I understand that the place hasn’t changed, and that Medway Council is as spectacularly incompetently useless as it ever was.

    Best of luck with this, Monaxle.

  4. If the arrest was unlawful the detention in the back of the van or anywhere else is unlawful. The use of handcuffs and possibly the search of person after ‘arrest’ may both constitute common assault. Since the IO seems to think that the arresting officer didn’t act sensibly and arrested simply because they could do so, it might be that the officer concerned has a personal liability; I would imagine that Kent Police also has a liability.
    As to the Special Branch’s input – the burden of proof might need to be less but there still has to be reasonable grounds and accompanying evidence. The fact that the police’s legal advisers consider the arrest to be illegal rather negates SB’s point of view.

  5. This confirms the opinions of many of us who felt all along that your detention and arrest were both unlawful and wholly unjustified. So many people have been caught up in the net of intrusive legislation that has affected many people, but especially press and amateur photographers. PUBLICITY IS ALWAYS THE KEY TO DEFEATING THIS CRAP! Thank God for the net. This case will spur people on when they next encounter unjustified police interference with photographic activities. I sincerely hope that you get a handsome payout on this, you thoroughly deserve it. On behalf of all photographers who have been approached by police when holding a camera (me too!) many thanks for being so open about this matter and the time and trouble you have taken to share this with us. Dave Murray.

  6. Really good new. It all seem to come down to what everyone dsaid at the time, the police did not know what the hell they were doing. If quote “regular officers generally have a low level of knowledge of anti terrorist legislation” unquote what does that say for the two council officers & the PCO?

  7. I am delighted at this news.

    You have maintained a level of dignity throughout this ordeal which is to your great credit. You have shown a degree of fortitude that few could equal and level of decorum which should act as a lesson to those responsible for this debacle.

    The regaining of civil liberties and the rebalancing of the criminal justice system will only be achieved by a thousand Monaxle’s calmly challenging the arrogance of corrupted power.

    Jurisprudence is too precious to allow its future definition to fall into than hands of those who benefit most from authoritarianism.

    Thank you.

  8. @Dave Murray, “PUBLICITY IS ALWAYS THE KEY TO DEFEATING THIS CRAP!” Yep, forewarned is forearmed. However the police do not seem so bothered about the bad publicity they’ve been getting over incidents like this. More interested in statistics than the actuality of what they are doing.

    Well done to Monaxle for getting through this. I’ve been on the rough end of public servants (usually local council) misusing their powers and know how stressful it can be. Even when you are in the right, that doesn’t mean you will triumph. Perhaps we should be more forthright when approached by these people. I don’t mean being rude, of course, just don’t be servile.

  9. Brilliant, you’ve made my day. Few of these stories ever reach the resolution they deserve, and it’s only your perseverance that has got a belated but just result. If this causes the police in Kent (and perhaps elsewhere?) to have a good rethink of their frankly disgraceful behaviour, then all of us, pros and amateurs, owe you a genuine debt of gratitude.

    A few more like this and perhaps common sense will prevail again.

  10. I would press charges and demand compensation. Not for personal gain, but as a reminder to the police that they cannot overstep their boundaries.

  11. Well done, Alex! I’m very pleased that you’ve got this admission from them. Looking forward to hear the final installment of the story (and to see the nice big camera you’ll hopefully be able to buy for the money they’ll end up having to pay out). Thank you for sticking up for photographers!

  12. Well done on this one. I used to have respect for the Police, now I simply don’t trust them, partly because of abuse of power like this.

    IMHO the officer who made the arrest should be disciplined and unless she can give a clear and reasonable explanation of the reason for the arrest, she should be sacked. Simple as that.

    Senior managers in the Police need to send a message to ordinary coppers that this sort of abuse wont be tolerated, otherwise it will continue to happen and the British public will continue to lose confidence in the Police.

    Once that happens the criminals will have won…..

  13. Excellent news. The whole affair was totally ludicrous. Plod really over-stepping the mark and put in their place. Might cause them to exercise a little more caution when thinking about harassing photographers in the future.
    Seems it’s time for a little compensation to be sorted!
    Good luck!

  14. Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas unwisely issued a statement, in which he pompously declared: “A police officer responded to a report concerning a man who was taking photographs of buildings and people in Chatham town centre. When challenged by the police officer the man refused to give any personal details which it was thought was suspicious. As a result, he was arrested and asked to wait in a police vehicle while his details were checked. He was released a short time later after these details had been properly verified, and no further action has been taken.”

    As Mr Thomas seems to support unlawful arrest and unlawful detention, I believe that he should also be sacked forthwith as a matter of public safety.

    — The Infamous Culex —

  15. And I’d thought this happened only in India …!! used to be a photojournalist in an earlier life in India and have faced such situations on countless occasions. Good for you Alex and much success!! It’s the cops need an education.

  16. Pingback: More plod hubris unfolds… « Al Jahom’s Final Word

  17. We’re getting a lot of this kind of thing in Canada too, often with the added pain from a good tasering. If somebody questions a police demand for information anything that comes after that is blamed on the victim for provoking the officer. If the person goes along with the police request and complains later, they’re told it was their own fault because they didn’t object at the time. In other words, you can’t win. All the while, the government continues to give the police more powers, and weakens civil rights. And it’s all being done, the government says, to protect our way of life from those would destroy it.

  18. Why is it that these situations invariably revolve around a ludicrous set of circumstances? This case is as typical as I have seen. The ‘suspicious behaviour’ was to take a photograph of a fish and chip shop. How this can possibly suggest any sort of nefarious activity beggars belief. In another case, a photographer was accused of anti-social behaviour for taking photographs of buses.
    As for taking shots of plod, if they still wore tunics with a whistle on a chain and traditional helmets, perhaps, but these days who wants to take pics of uniforms that are the same as bus drivers, airline staff, security guards etc. I know I don’t.

  19. “When challenged by the police officer the man refused to give any personal details which it was thought was suspicious.”
    Why should he have to give any personal details if he was doing nothing illegal? If he was doing nothing illegal, why was he challenged in the first place? Sounds like someone needs a refresher course in the law, instead of making up as they go along.
    As has been clarified elsewhere, there is nothing illegal about taking photographs in a public place.
    Was there ever any confirmation as to who the first two plain-clothes people were who tried to intimidate monaxle initially? Were they actually police or jobs-worth security or council employees?

  20. I wonder who’ll be first to say ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’? This story amply shows we have plenty to fear.

  21. I applied under the reedom of Information Act 2000 for the ranks, names and collar numbers o the oficers who arrested Alex Turner. This was refused by Kent Police on the grounds that this was personal information and subject to the Data Protection Act. I appealed on this point citing Information Commissioner’s Awareness Guidance No.1, that states that the name of an employee or member of staff is not personal information. This follows the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Durant v Financial Services Authority 2004. I also cited my own case (Murray v Humberside Police 2009) in which I won my appeal with the Information Commissioner and forced Humberside to disclose the details of the two officers who seized Steve Carroll’s films citing ‘sensitive buildings.’ This being the biggest load of crap I have ever read. Kent Police denied that my case with Humberside existed. When I sent photocopies, they then upgraded the officers details to ‘sensitive personal data’ stating that it would harm their careers if bad publicity was given to them in the light of the Alex Turner case. Reading between the lines, it seems that Kent Police inadvertently revealed the outcome of the Turner case before telling him! I now proceed to the Information Commissioner (again).

  22. Brilliant! This is better than any so-called “reality” programme or soap opera. Keep it rolling, folks. It can only get better……………….can’t it?

  23. If the arrest was unlawful, then the use of force was unlawful and you could consider a private prosecution for battery in the Criminal Justice Act (common assault is the threat of force) OR a civil claim for assault and false imprisonment. If the arresting officer is convicted of battery, they would only get a fine at most but it would be a stain on their character and could be career threatening, and the only way to stop these scum from abusing their powers.

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