Friday, July 17, 2009
Kent Police set a new legal precedent last week, as they arrested a photographer on the unusual grounds of “being too tall”.
This follows a year of increasingly unhappy incidents, in which continued reassurances from on high appear to have had little impact on how Police Forces deal with photographers – and reinforces a growing concern that the breakdown in trust and cooperation with the Police warned of in respect of demonstrations could soon transfer to photography too.
According to his blog, our over-tall photographer Alex Turner was taking snaps in Chatham High St last Thursday, when he was approached by two unidentified men. They did not identify themselves, but demanded that he show them some ID and warned that if he failed to comply, they would summon police officers to deal with him.
This they did, and a PCSO and WPC quickly joined the fray. Turner took a photo of the pair, and was promptly arrested. It is unclear from his own account precisely what he was being arrested for. However, he does record that the WPC stated she had felt threatened by him when he took her picture, referring to his size – 5′ 11″ and about 12 stone – and implying that she found it intimidating.
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Turner claims he was handcuffed, held in a police van for around 20 minutes, and forced to provide ID before they would release him. He was then searched in public by plain clothes officers who failed to provide any ID before they did so.
Following his release, he further claims that the police confirmed he was at liberty to take photographs, so long as – according to the PCSO – he did not take any photographs of the police.
This is just the latest in a long line of PR disasters that have dogged police forces over the last 12 months, with tourists, schoolboys and passers-by all subject to arrest for the heinous offence of pursuing their hobby. Each incident is followed by much police hand-wringing, and statements to the effect that these are one-offs: the fault of over-zealous individual officers.
This article was posted: Friday, July 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm