claim they don't need law to stop photographer taking pictures
police officers stopped a teenage photographer from taking pictures of an
Armed Forces Day parade - and then claimed they did not need a law to detain
Jules Mattsson, a 16-year-old freelancer from Hackney, east London, was
photographing police cadets on Saturday when he was ordered to stop and
give his personal details by an adult cadet officer who claimed he needed
parental permission to capture images of the cadets.
arguing his rights in a series of protracted legal debates with officers,
the sixth former says he was pushed down a set of stairs and detained for
breaching the peace until the parade passed.
is now considering taking legal action against the Met which has often been
criticised for its heavy handed approach towards photographers in the capital.
The student, who works as a freelance photojournalist in his spare time,
decided to record his confrontation on his mobile phone, providing an insight
into the legal arguments that the officers were using to justify stopping
him from taking photographs. The parade he was photographing was one 350
public marches held to mark Armed Forces Day, a new event which was created
last year amid criticism that the country didn't do enough to honour its
Mr Mattson said his confrontation began when he started taking photographs
of police cadets.
was quickly and aggressively stopped by one of their adult officers asking
me who I worked for,” he wrote on his blog. “I responded that
I was a freelance and upon being told I needed parental permission to photograph
them, I explained this was a public event in a public place and that I didn’t
for editorial use.”
audio recording begins minutes later with an officer initially arguing that
it is illegal to take photographs of children. He then claims that it is
illegal to take images of army members and police officers.
laws that guarantee the freedom of press in Britain, there is no restriction
on photography of children, police or armed forces in a public space. There
is new legislation to protect the identities of some police officers but
only those working undercover or in instances where an officer genuinely
believes a photographer is collecting data for terrorist purposes.
the audio recording, when asked by Mr Mattsson what law police were using
to detain him and ask for details, one officer replies: “We don’t
have to have a law.” The 16-year-old continues to argue his case,
informing the officers that he has a right to photograph in public places
and asks whether he can get back to work. Instead he is told by a second
officer that he is now “considered a threat under the Terrorism Act”
and escorted away from the parade. Mr Mattsson claims he was then pushed
down a set of four concrete stairs and detained until the parade passed.
incident in Romford came just 24 hours after the force was forced to pay
compensation to two photojournalists for a similar incident. Marc Vallee
and Jason Parkinson took civil action against the Met after they had their
camera equipment grabbed by officers in December 2008 while reporting on
a protest outside the Greek Embassy.
a public apology the Met admitted that its officers had “failed to
respect press freedom” of the two journalists and agreed to pay them
each £3,500 plus legal costs.
Police forces across the country were told to stop using anti-terror laws
to question and search innocent photographers after The Independent ran
a campaign last year highlighting how legislation was being regularly misused.
But groups representing photographers say the message is often struggling
to get through to some front line officers.
for the Metropolitan Police said the force had no information on the incident
but added that police officers should not stop amateur or professional photographers
from capturing images in a public place.
Mattsson has been given legal advice not to talk publicly about the incident.
He is believes to be planning to take legal action against the Met.