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Student journalist demands police apology for seizing film

A student journalist has demanded an apology from police after they seized a film he had taken of officers making an arrest in Nottingham.

Lewis Stainer is being backed by the National Union of Journalists in his attempt to secure an an apology from Nottinghamshire police.

His video footage was seized for evidence on Monday 21 November and returned to Lewis over a week later.

However Lewis, who is studying a BTech in TV and Film says he wants an apology as well as compensation for the stress and inconvenience he experienced as a result of having his course work seized.

He had been filming in the old Market Square for his course project when police made four arrests at the Occupy Nottingham camp. Subsequently two people were charged with offences.

The union has written to Nottinghamshire’s chief constable Julia Hodson calling for the apology to be made in person to 20-year-old Lewis Stainer, a student at New College in Nottingham.

National officials of the NUJ have also decided today to give Lewis legal support while the union’s legal officers carry out a full investigation into the incident.

Diana Peasey, chair of the Nottingham NUJ branch said photographers were under increasing pressure.

She said: “They’re often told they can’t photograph crime scenes or face having their camera or film seized by police under section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. It is done all too frequently.

“It is clear that the PACE legislation is overriding the Media guidelines and we need to toughen them up to ensure that the police understand they cannot intimidate photographers and journalists at crime scenes or major incidents.”

The union says that the Nottinghamshire Constabulary’s Complaints and Misconduct unit is also looking into the incident.

Nottinghamshire Police said in a statement: “We have previously stated the legal grounds upon which the request for the tape was made.

“The tape has now been returned to Mr Stainer and the force will respond directly to the National Union of Journalists in due course.”


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  • December 9, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I agree that the police taking cameras and obstructing the press in general is a problem (one I’ve often experienced, and I often feel angry with jobsworth officers who feel the need to get in the way).
    However, I think journalists as a breed stubbornly refuse to see that the police have a very difficult job, especially around highly charged issues like the Occupy camps. Although officers should not react, it is hostile and more than a little provocative to stick a camera in their faces – how well would you do your job if your every move was scrutinised in this intensive way?
    I’m not saying filming shouldn’t be allowed – everything within reason should be allowed in a democratic society – but I think it’s a little petty to deliberately antagonise the police then cry about it when they react.
    I don’t know the full facts of this case, so I am not saying Mr Stainer did anything wrong, but in general I think we could all play a little fairer – expose wrongdoing at all costs, but making the police frightened to do their jobs serves nothing except the ego of the frightener.

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  • December 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Should the police appologise? Yes. Should Mr Stainer get compensation. No. The police have no right to confiscate equipment or prevent a photographer/video journalist from doing their job but an appology from the chief constable of Nottinghamshire force is enough in this case. Compensation?! Jeez…

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