I'm a bit behind the curve on this, as everyone seems to have done it to death, but I was watching this video clip again today and thought I would mention it here.
It's a young lad, 16 I think, who was trying to take some photos of an army cadet parade when the police tried to stop him. He started recording the incident and has now published it on YouTube. Have a watch of this, and see it through to the end.
Impressions: first up, I feel admiration for the lad in standing up to what can only be described as bullying behaviour by a man in police uniform. He's only 16 - his voice hasn't broken yet, for God's sake - and yet he refuses to be intimidated and sticks to his guns. Second, I am appalled by the attitude of the police here. They are completely in the wrong (it is not illegal to take photographs of police officers or the armed forces, you do not need permission to photograph anyone in a public place even if they are under 18, and he cannot be detained by a police officer unless he is told what law he is alleged to have broken, which the officer repeatedly fails to do). The Met's own publicly-available policy on this is quite clear:
Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs through briefings and internal communications. The following advice is available to all officers and provides a summary of the Metropolitan Police Service’s guidance around photography in public places.
Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.
The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.
There is nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable so long as this is being done for a lawful purpose and is not being done in a way that prevents, dissuades or inhibits the individual from doing something which is not unlawful.
It looks as thought the guys in Romford missed this particular briefing. If you listen to the police officer's words, he changes tack several times about the reason for preventing the lad taking photographs, and seems to be making the law up as he goes along. The lad is accused, inter alia, of being 'silly', a terrorist, and agitator and a potential paedophile.
And, of course, this isn't an isolated incident. It's happening all the time: Google it. It's as if the Prevention of Terrorism Act has given the police free rein to do as they please - after all, if you object you are a supporter of terrorism, right?
I have always been a firm supporter of the police. They have a difficult and very necessary job to do, and seem to get it right most of the time in tough circumstances. But this kind of thing (and the other bugbear of mine, the relentless pursuit of easy collars while turning a blind eye to the hard stuff) makes me wonder if they are not now beyond democratic control.
I am appalled and very disturbed by what I see here. I will be following Jules Mattsson's case closely. I assume he will be taking this one further. I hope he does.