Photographers are starting to fight back against “excessive” security measures, especially as the Olympic Games draw nearer, according to an article from U.K. news-source Metro.
East London filmmaker Hilary Powell has been attempting to film around the site of the London Olympics, but she has noticed more and more “increasingly violent opposition to anyone with a camera.”
“There were security guards with dogs trying to intimidate you into giving them your camera tapes, telling you they own them and are protecting their clients, despite the face that they have no official authority,” she told Metro. “It’s always in the name of anti-terrorism. And many photographers don’t know their rights under the law.”
According to Jeff Moore, chairman of the British Press Photographers’ Association, those rights are simple: if you are standing in a public place, you have every right to take photos, with a few exceptions (Crown property and the Royal Parks, for example). Moore even cites an event where private security guards tried to stop Japanese tourists from taking photos by covering their lenses.
Jess Hurd, a freelance photographer, is the co-founder of campaign group “I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist” and chair of the National Union of Journalists’ London Photographers’ Branch. She and four colleagues walked the perimeter of the Olympic stadium last month to gage the truthfulness of the guarding rumors, according to Metro. They were stopped by private security, who called police.
The police had to inform the guards that they had no right to impede the photographers, who were on public land.
“It’s just complete paranoia,” said Hurd in the article. “We have an issue with security guards not knowing the law, but believing they are above the law. We have definitely seen a rise in stops in the run-up to the Games.”
One photographer, who asked to remain anonymous, was working on a six-month project to record the London Olympics when he was put into the back of a police vehicle and handed a business card, Metro reports. He was told by police that he should call a number on the card whenever he had arrived to film and say “Hello boys, I’m on the ground.”
The photographer says he found it “heavy-handed but comical.”
Stopped photographers have been given the following advice:
· Challenge the order—ask what law has been violated, and remind the guards that if the photographer is on public land, he or she may take as many pictures as they like.
· Record the incident on cell phones.
· Take down the details of the officer or guard apprehending them so they can post an official complaint.
· The police are not allowed to stop photographers unless they “reasonably suspect you of being a terrorist,” and cannot seize any equipment of photos unless it contains something “which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is a terrorist.” If they do confiscate anything, police must provide paperwork detailing what was taken.
· No footage or photos can be deleted during a search, under any circumstances.