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Police station protest to highlight press freedom

A one-man protest over treatment of press photographers is due to take place outside New Scotland Yard today.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, says he wants to highlight the failure of police officers to protect media freedoms.

The union feels frustrated at what it says is the large number of its photographer members who are regularly obstructed from doing their jobs by officers who don’t understand media freedom laws.

Jeremy’s one-man protest outside the home of the Metropolitan Police is aiming to help senior police officers spot the difference between a protester and photographers covering the protest.

The subject was thrust into the spotlight again earlier this month when an agency photographer lodged a formal complaint with West Midlands Police about his treatment outside the Labour Party Conference, in Birmingham.

Jeremy said: “It’s a shame that we have to hold a stunt like this to help the police spot the difference between a protester and a press photographer. It really isn’t that difficult.

“What’s really frustrating is that guidelines are already in place which should deal with the problems we experience.

“We’re not even campaigning for a change to the rules. All we want is for the policy that currently exists to be properly enforced.

“Although the one-man protest is intended to be a little light-hearted, this is a really serious issue.

“In an open and democratic society it’s vital that photographers and members of the media are free to report on what is going on in the world.

“Police officers need to understand their responsibilities when it comes to respecting media freedom.”

Last year a set of guidelines on dealing with the media was agreed between the NUJ and the Association of Chief Police Officers, an extension of guidelines already agreed with the Metropolitan Police.

The union said that despite this, cases continued to surface of police officers taking action that was not within their legal powers such as deleting shots from cameras or obstructing photographers.

Some photographers have been arrested, or threatened with arrest, because they have refused to stop taking photos and in other cases equipment has been seized.

Jeremy will also deliver a letter to New Scotland Yard highlighting the union’s concerns and a letter from the NUJ Parliamentary Group to the Home Secretary.


Mike Seaman (09/08/2008 09:53:18)
We need to protest on the streets in every town and city in the UK. show our strength on a set day by photographing everything on mass.
“freedom of photography day” Fact; more people own cameras than own footballs. Fact;more people own cameras now than ever in the history of photography.
Mike Seaman