Sunday 27 June 2010

Photographer Illegally Detained By Police In Romford

This is a recording made and images taken by photographer Jules Mattsson, who was illegally detained by police in Romford yesterday after taking an image of a cadet unit who were preparing to take part in a Armed Forces Day parade through the town - in front of thousands of people with cameras.

Mattson was first told that it was a criminal offence to photograph a child, then to photograph the military and eventually the usual nonsense that photographing the police is illegal. Finally, police claimed he presented a threat under anti-terrorism laws. "I was frog marched with my arm painfully twisted, away from the public eye and any witnesses and pushed down a set of stairs", he says. He had to attend hospital and the police now face a formal complaint and the threat of legal action.

So much for guidance to officers, on allowing photographers to do their jobs without harassment, filtering through to the police on the streets.

UPDATE: 28 June

Jules is adding further updates on his blog here.

The story has now hit the national press - see the Independent, "Officers claim they don't need law to stop photographer taking pictures"

The Metropolitan police has issued a statement to the British Journal of Photography - a spokeswoman said:

"It is clearly not the intention of the MPS to prevent people from taking photographs, although, as the public would expect, officers will remain vigilant, particularly in crowded public places. Any allegations or complaints about police treatment of photographers are taken very seriously by the MPS."

She adds: "Anyone who is unhappy with the actions of individual police officers can make a formal complaint, which will be thoroughly investigated. Although at this time we have not received a complaint about this incident and no allegations of crime have been made, we will investigate the circumstances. Our officers do receive guidance around the issue of photography through briefings and internal communications and we continue to drive this work forward.

UPDATE: 29 June

The story is also in The Register and on Boing Boing.

Even serving coppers seem unimpressed. And it seems that Roger Evans, the Conservative member for Havering & Redbridge on the London Assembly, had no problems taking pictures of the same parade.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, I know Jules, am shocked by this. It's appalling and an attack on civil liberties. Hope he's ok.

There was also an incident where a man armed with a Canon camera and tripod was arrested at Traf Square the other day. So much for the cops easing the usage of this draconian legislation!!

Jules Mattsson said...

Thanks both for your support :)
Could I ask a favour, would it be possible to link to my post on this via the article? :) It's at and will be updated as things happen :)


Phyll said...

I really hope that you're going to make an official complaint, even if your not seeking to press charges. Too often the hide behind 'we can't comment because we haven't recieved a complaint'. And if you do complain in writing, they have to act upon it.

You don't have to press for wrongful arrest or assault in order to complain, complaining and pressing charges are two different things.

More power to you my friend, and well done for sticking to your guns.

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