Melon Farmers Original Version

Bollox Britain


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20th December   

Help Me Put Gordon Brown in Jail...

Mark Thomas campaigns
Link Here
Full story: Protests at Parliament Square...Banning protests outside UK Parliament

If MPs pass ridiculous laws to limit our freedom, they should be forced to abide by them too.

My lawyers have delivered a letter to the director of public prosecutions calling for an urgent investigation into allegations that the prime minister broke the law by demonstrating unlawfully in Parliament Square last summer. If found guilty he could face 50 weeks in prison.

This is partly Mr Brown's own fault. It began when MPs rushed the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 through, forcing anyone wishing to demonstrate within an area around parliament to get police approval. This is the law that Maya Evans was arrested and convicted under, for reading out the names of the British and Iraqi war dead.

In the past 18 months I have legally demonstrated in every corner of the area this law covers, from Hungerford Bridge (demanding more trolls) to the Mall (demanding human rights in Saudi Arabia). The definition of what constitutes a protest is such that I had to apply for permission to wear a red nose in Parliament Square on Red Nose Day. Not to do so would have risked arrest. Last month I had to get police approval to hold a banner saying, "Support the Poppy Appeal".

If the wearing of a brightly coloured proboscis constitutes a protest, then the unveiling of Nelson Mandela's statue must do so too. After all, it celebrated the collapse of apartheid (a political cause), honoured a man who organised the armed struggle in South Africa (definitely political and quite possibly glorifying terrorism) and pledged to fight poverty.

So, being civic-minded, I wrote to the police asking if I needed permission for a gathering at the statue. My event had speeches - in fact, they were extracts from the original speeches made on the day by Mr Brown and Mr Mandela. Yes, the police informed me, I did need permission to demonstrate - which I duly applied for and received. Unfortunately for the prime minister, it seems no one bothered to get police approval at the event he spoke at.

To support the action, you can buy an "I put Gordon Brown in the dock" badge for £2. Any money not used in the legal challenge will be donated to Index on Censorship

30th October    On Yer Bike ...
The saddle should be removed and the bike thrust up the arse of those responsible for this prosecution

Erotic bike seatA man has been placed on the sex offenders’ register after being caught trying to have sex with a bicycle. A man was discovered in his room by two cleaners at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr, Scotland, in October last year

On Wednesday the man admitted to sexual breach of the peace in Ayr Sheriff Court, where depute fiscal Gail Davidson described how he had been found by the hostel workers.

She said: They knocked on the door several times and there was no reply. They used a master key to unlock the door and they then observed the accused wearing only a white T-shirt, naked from the waist down. The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex.

Both witnesses, who were extremely shocked, notified the hotel manager, who in turn alerted the police.

The man was placed on the sex offenders’ register but his sentence was deferred until next month.


31st October  Comment:  Sexual Breach of the Peace ...
It could happen to anyone

Erotic bike seatThis is a new one on me. It's possible that "sexual breach of the peace" has been magicked up out of nowhere. The problem is that the guy has admitted it, maybe in the hope of avoiding publicity, but all he was doing was masturbating in private, albeit with a rather unusual sex toy. (I wince at the thought!) What happens if somebody is enjoying a quiet J Arthur over the pay-per-view naughty movie provided by a hotel when the cleaner walks in?


6th November  Comment:  Government Intrusion ...
Into people's sex lives
Erotic bike seatThe general culture of bossiness is intruding more and more into people's sex lives.

The government seems to see nothing strange about celebrating Wolfenden while visiting on us such joys as the Dangerous Pictures Act. They manage to present Wolfenden purely in terms of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, but the report also dealt with prostitution. In fact, since the government of the time acted virtually immediately on the latter (Street Offences Act 1959 IIRC), while it took a decade before the first steps to decriminalise homosexual acts, I presume that prostitution was viewed as the less controversial issue at the time. The latest brain-dead proposals follow the use of ASBOs as a "back door to prison" for tarts - "Stop earning your living or we throw you in jail."

And consider such beauties as "breach of trust" - throwing schoolmasters (and the occasional schoolmistress) in the slammer for relationships with sixth-formers that would barely have raised an eyebrow thirty years ago - or "sexual touching", which criminalises the innocuous explorations of teenagers. Occasionally farce gets added to tragedy, as in one of the cases "exposed" by the tabloids of a "sex offender allowed to teach". The convolutions of child-protection-speak around hiding the "victim's" identity were utterly amazing, since she had been married to the "offender" for twenty-odd years. The guy had been stupid rather than wicked, falling for a girl in the school where he worked and jumping the gun (so to speak!) before she was sixteen. As soon as he could, he married her. The tabs decided to drive him out of a job.


15th November  Update:  Perverted Justice ...
A sad day for shitty Scottish justice over bike sex case
Erotic bike seatA "cycle-sexualist" caught half-naked in a private locked room in compromising position with his bicycle has been put on probation for three years.

The man's unlikely perversion paled into insignificance compared with the corruption of justice inflicted by all those involved on the persecution and sentencing.

The victim of the persecution was naked from the waist down and when the women unlocked his bedroom door.

The police were called and at a hearing last month the unfortunate man was placed on the sex offenders' register after admitting a sexual breach of the peace.

The case has prompted criticism of "loony British laws", but he ended up in court because the "shocked" cleaners said they had knocked repeatedly before opening the door.

The Ayr sheriff court on the west coast of Scotland was told that alcohol was the cause of his problems, and he was placed under the supervision of a social worker and warned that if he re-offended he would be sent to prison.

Sheriff Colin Miller added: In almost four decades in the law I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'.

The man's solicitor Gerry Tierney described his client as a "sad little man" who was trying to tackle his drink problem. He added: When the cleaners came in, he thought he was having fun with them. He does not think it is funny any more, and he has had to move home three times because he has been targeted because of the offence.


7th October

    Handling an Electricity Bill in a Threatening Manner ...


Heavy handed policing at Labour conference

From Bournemouth Echo see full article

A pint at their local pub took a more sinister turn when two disabled men found themselves at the centre of a police search operation.

Bob Hamlen, 47, and Michael Burbidge, 31, were stunned when they were surrounded by uniformed officers as they sat on a bench outside the Westcliff Tavern in West Cliff Road, Bournemouth.

The pub patio area overlooks the security checkpoint at the entrance to the Highcliff Marriott Hotel where top-ranking politicians are staying during this week's Labour party conference.

Bob said: We were treated like terrorist suspects. It was so over the top, there were about eight officers around us asking questions which was very frightening.

We told them we lived round the corner and this was our local pub. But, while an armed officer pointed his gun at us from the other side of the street, they made us empty our pockets and put all our possessions on the table. Then they checked all our credit cards and documents.

I was carrying my disabled bus pass but it didn't make any difference. I needed to go to the toilet and an officer went with me in case I escaped. After radioing through the information, they asked us to accompany them, in separate police cars, to the police station.

They said the reason I was being taken to the police station was because I had been seen passing a white envelope. But all I did was take my post out of my jacket pocket and open an electricity bill.

On Michael's stop and search form they said they wanted to speak to him, under the Terrorism Act, because he had been looking at a police officer. That area of town is saturated with police officers and, from where we were sitting, it would have been impossible not to be watching one.

Bob, who has lived in the area for seven years, said: Once at the police station we were taken to separate rooms and questioned for about 45 minutes. Then officers went with us to our flat and searched it before returning us to the pub. We feel violated and want an apology from the police.

The Westcliff Tavern manager Tony Cartwright said: Bob and Michael have been drinking here for years. They are locals and two of the least likely terrorist suspects you could find.


1st October

    No Protest ...


Police block protests whilst parliament is in session

From the Independent

Organisers of a protest aimed at calling for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq claimed yesterday that the authorities are trying to ban the event.

The Stop the War Coalition is planning to stage a march from Trafalgar Square in central London to nearby Parliament on October 8, the day MPs return from their summer break.

But following a series of meetings with police, the group said it had now been told that all demonstrations within a mile of Parliament have been banned.

Organisers of protests have to get police permission to hold events outside Parliament, but several demonstrations have been held in recent years, including many against the Iraq war.

Lindsey German, convenor of STWC, said she was told by police that they had been given a "steer" from Parliament that demonstrations could not be held while the Commons was in session.

We intend to go ahead with our march and we hope they will back down, she said.


7th September

    Put Your Feet Up ...


Passenger persecution policy at Merseyrail

From the Times

A student who was taken to court for putting her feet on a train seat escaped a potentially career-wrecking criminal conviction yesterday after lawyers branded the case a “ludicrous” waste of time and money.

Kathleen Jennings wiped tears from her eyes as she was given an absolute discharge by Chester magistrates.

The university student, who is studying maths, had fallen foul of the train operator Merseyrail’s “zero tolerance” policy to protect its upholstery.

Although she removed her flip-flops from the seat as an inspector arrived, this did not satisfy the company. Rather than imposing a fine, it chose to pursue the matter through the courts, in a move that was criticised yesterday as an absurd over-reaction.

Had she been convicted of a criminal offence, the teenager could have struggled to realise her ambition of becoming a maths teacher.

However, Christine Abrams, the chairwoman of the magistrates’ bench, gave Miss Jennings an absolute discharge, meaning that no criminal offence will be recorded and she will suffer no penalty. There were no costs awarded.

Abrams said: The bench is united in feeling that while this may have been contrary to a by-law, Merseyrail should have a less draconian method for dealing with matters of this nature. She advocated a more commonsense approach in the future. A fixed penalty system may be more appropriate.

Earlier Kevin Jones, representing Merseyrail, told the court that, as a train inspector approached Miss Jennings, she took her flip-flops off the seat. He admitted there was no verbal warning but said that a notice in front of her warned passengers of a 100 penalty for resting their feet on seats.

From the Daily Mail see full article

But it has emerged that Merseyrail is to take 600 more passengers to court for putting their feet on its seats.

It is the only train company in the UK to prosecute for the offence and claims the policy, which was introduced in February, has widespread support among passengers.

Most offenders receive a conditional discharge and are fined around 50.

A Merseyrail spokesman said: More than 34million has been spent on refurbishing our fleet to provide a clean and comfortable journey. To date, we have prosecuted some 240 people for putting their feet on the seats and other by-law infringements such as smoking. All have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty by magistrates. A further 600 people or so are due in court over the next few months.

We do not regard our campaign as draconian. We are responding to the demands of passengers who don't want to sit on a seat covered in mud or dirt.


5th September

    Bent Police ...


Police run over pedestrian's foot and then issue charge for denting the police car

Based on an article from the Daily Mail

When a pedestrian was hit by a police car which mounted the pavement, it was obvious who was going to come off worse. After suffering a broken foot in the collision, however, Daniel Horne thought all the damage had been done.

Until he received an 80 fine - for denting the vehicle.

Mr Horne had been walking home in June when the marked police car mounted the pavement and crushed his foot under the wheel. An apologetic officer then took him to hospital where he spent three hours being treated for his damaged foot.

The police driver took Daniel to hospital for treatment to his foot after the accident at Beddau, near Pontypridd, South Wales and waited with him.

Mr Horne said: The copper was very helpful and was there with me for about three hours while the doctors examined me. My metatarsal was completely crushed and I was put in a cast. He gave me a lift back but then told me: 'Sorry but I've got to do this to cover myself.' I was amazed when he issued me with the 80 fixed penalty notice. I was speechless when he wrote out that I ran into a police vehicle causing a dent.

The fine ticket reads: You ran into the n/s [near side] front wing of a marked police vehicle causing a dent.

Daniel said: There is no way I'm going to pay the fixed penalty fine. I've spoken to my solicitor and I'm going to fight it all the way.

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said: A fixed penalty was issued for criminal damage. We have received a complaint from Mr Horne and are looking into it.


25th August

    Caught by CCTV ...


Police caught fabricating a bollox case

Based on an article from the Daily Mail see full article

Two young women who were dragged before a court for allegedly flashing their breasts at a CCTV camera have had the case against them dropped, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

Abbi-Louise Maple and Rachel Marchant, both 21, were accused of exposing their chests on Worthing seafront, West Sussex, on July 16. A CCTV operator summoned police and the pair were charged with outraging public decency.

They appeared at Worthing Magistrates' Court on Wednesday and elected for Crown Court trial.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) bollox, Maple and Marchant were near a children's play area and there were youngsters in the vicinity at the time of the alleged incident. [the play area was 100 yards away]

But a spokesman for the organisation said today: The Chief Crown Prosecutor, Sarah Jane Gallagher, in consultation with Sussex Police, has subsequently reviewed the case and she has decided that to continue would not be in the public interest. The case has therefore been discontinued.

Speaking after she heard the news, Miss Maple said: We'd been to the pub and had a few drinks. It was just a little joke, one of those spur-of-the-moment things. I'm happy. I just wanted it to be over, I didn't want a criminal record for that. It's embarrassing.

Miss Marchant said: We did not intend to upset anyone and I don't think it's that offensive because people sunbathe topless all the time. Everyone thinks it's ridiculous that we've been taken to court. Most people think what we did was funny.

The two girls were arrested, questioned and then charged with committing an act outraging public decency [See note Below] - an offence which carries a maximum sentence of six months prison or a 5,000 fine. If the case had gone to a trial at crown court it would have cost the taxpayer 8,000 a day.

The decision to prosecute for an offence that appeared so trivial drew heavy criticism. Peter Bottomley, Tory MP for West Worthing, led calls for the case to be dropped. He said: This is ridiculous. It is a total waste of public money and waste of time for the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts. The sooner they drop the case, the better.

Background: The Legalities of Public Nudity

Thanks to Malcolm of , March 2008

The is no such offence as 'indecent exposure'.

There is an offence of 'Exposure' but the name is misleading. It is actually 'Aggressive Exposure'. It was very carefully worded so that it could not be applied to naturists. The important point is that there must be intent to cause fear, alarm or distress. It could not possibly apply to this case.

There are no specific prohibitions of nudity. The Victorian statutes have all been repealed.

The enabling power for councils to make bye laws regulating the decency of swim suits has been repealed to ... protect naturists from busy body ... councillors.

The idea that these two young women committed the offence of "Outraging Public Decency" is absolutely absurd. The defining judgment states that 'outraging is a very strong word' and that the behaviour must go well beyond merely offensive. The offence must be in a public place but the definition of public place is rather technical. Nobody else was around so apart from the CCTV is was not a public place. There is case law establishing that a CCTV recording does not make it a public place. As far as we know the law with respect to live CCTV has not been established but is likely to be the same so that is two grounds for throwing out the charge. It is a good example of how vague catch all offences are abused.

The only charge that might possibly be appropriate would be that old favourite of police and authorities when they want to make up the law as they go along, s.5 Public Order Act 1986.

In brief:

There is no offence of nudity and no such offence as indecent exposure.

The offence of Exposure only applies to genitals and it requires intent to cause fear, alarm or distress.

Public Order legislation is sometimes used against naturists but when the victim refuses to be bullied the prosecution finds it difficult to obtain convictions.

Outraging Public Decency was an outrageously inappropriate charge and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of plain English.


22nd August

    Baby Stealing ...


UK social services take babies to meet adoption targets

Based on an article from The Telegraph see full article

A heavily pregnant woman is at the centre of an extraordinary legal battle with social workers after she secretly recorded them threatening to take away her newborn baby .

Vanessa Brookes, 34, who is due to give birth early next month, smuggled taping equipment into a meeting with social services officials, fearing they would try to take her baby for forced adoption.

She recorded a social worker telling her and her husband Martin that even though there was no immediate risk to your child from yourselves , the council would seek a court order to place the child in foster care.

Mother and baby would be allowed "two or three days" in hospital together, but should not leave the premises until social workers came to remove the infant. In a desperate attempt to keep their baby, the couple have published the recorded conversation on the internet.

Shits of Calderdale council, in West Yorkshire, last night accused them of breaching the Data Protection Act by recording its staff without their knowledge or consent. The council said it had begun legal action to have the recording removed from the YouTube website. Mrs Brookes said: Even puppies and kittens aren't removed from their mothers at birth. Social workers always record everything, so why shouldn't we record them?

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of campaign group Justice for Families, said: I find it very odd that a newborn baby would be removed when there is not any allegation by the authorities that the child is at risk. Yet this case is not unique. There are many cases in which newborns are removed because of allegations that their mothers may at some later stage 'emotionally abuse' the child.

The case returns the spotlight to claims that social services are being heavy-handed in removing children from their parents, in order to meet Government adoption targets.

The Sunday Telegraph has previously revealed cases of mothers who were not told why their children were taken away, and cases of families whose children were not returned even after the parents had been cleared of wrongdoing. More than 2,000 babies aged under a year were taken for adoption last year, almost triple the level of a decade ago.

Social services took an interest in the Brookes family after Mrs Brookes, who is partially-sighted, was diagnosed with depression and a personality disorder, leading to concerns that her baby might be subjected to "emotional abuse". Neighbours have complained that the couple's household was disorderly, but neither has been accused of abusing or harming a child.

In the recorded meeting, the social worker tells the couple: It's our intention as a local authority that when your baby is born, we go into court on that same day and ask for an interim court order because we would wish to place your baby with foster carers.

He tells Mrs Brookes: I would like you and your baby to stay in hospital until the courts have made a decision.

The social worker admits to the couple that a back-up plan is being drawn up in case the judge refuses the application for a care order. He says: What we also have to think about is a child protection plan that looks at you, at home, with your baby. There is no immediate risk to your child from yourselves, that's my understanding from reading documents.

A spokesman for the shites of Calderdale council said officials would seek a meeting with Mr and Mrs Brookes to understand how this information came into the public domain. We are taking action to have this item removed from YouTube. This recording was made without the knowledge or consent of our member of staff.


5th August

    Should be Taken into Care ...


Social Work Council brought into disrepute by lousy judgement

From The Guardian see full article

Owing to a procedural delay, Yvonne Marie Doyle avoided the dubious honour of being the first social worker to be disciplined by the General Social Care Council (GSCC). But her offence is unlikely to be replicated for a while: by advertising her services as an escort with an internet agency "with links to websites associated with prostitution", she was judged to have brought social work into disrepute and damaged public confidence in social care services.

Doyle holds another distinction, too. She is, to date, the only social worker to have been suspended from the professional register - for two years, in her case - as punishment for breaching the GSCC code of conduct.

Admittedly, it is still early days for the GSCC, and the relatively small numbers it has dealt with make comparisons tricky, but there does seem to be scope for questions about due punishment. Doyle escaped being struck off because, it was concluded, advertising as an escort is not illegal and nobody was harmed or put at risk by her activities.


19th May

    Government Target ...


To get all UK citizens arrested at least once

From The Independent

Frontline police called on the Government today to reverse the target-driven culture that has 'forced' them to make "ludicrous" decisions such as arresting a child for throwing cream buns.

The Police Federation annual conference debated whether judging officers purely on how many arrests, cautions or on-the-spot fines they can deliver is making a mockery of the criminal justice system.

The federation said the drive to meet Whitehall performance targets was compelling officers to criminalise middle England.

The organisation published a dossier of ridiculous cases they claimed resulted from Home Office targets placed on beat bobbies:

  • A Cheshire man who was cautioned by police for being found in possession of an egg with intent to throw
  • A child in Kent who removed a slice of cucumber from a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and threw it at another youngster and was arrested because the other child's parents claimed it was an assault
  • A West Midlands woman arrested on her wedding day for criminal damage to a car park barrier when her foot slipped on her accelerator pedal
  • A Kent child who was arrested for throwing cream buns at a bus
  • A 70-year-old Cheshire pensioner - who had never been in trouble with the law - who was arrested for criminal damage after cutting back a neighbour's conifers too vigorously
  • One West Midlands officer who was told to caution a man for throwing a glass of water over his girlfriend
  • Two Manchester children who were arrested under firearms laws for being in possession of a plastic toy pistol.

A spokesman for the federation, which represents 130,000 rank-and-file officers in England and Wales, said the power to use discretion should be returned to the bobby on the beat: The cases we have compiled show incidents where an officer has been under such pressure to deliver it has resulted in an arrest or caution when even the officer themselves thinks it is ludicrous.

Understandably, when the public hears about this, they ask 'What the hell is going on?'.


15th May

    No Secret about Blair's Embarrassment ...


Men jailed for disclosing Bush Blair conversation

The judge promptly issued a ban on reporting details of the memo Keogh had sent to O'Connor. However the gist of the memo is widely reported around the world and entering "Keogh O'Connor" into Google provides many links providing further details.

Perhaps the judge might like to take some time off from demonstrating the asininity of the law by googling "Ibrahim al-Hassan chief justice Iraq". It's not unknown for regimes to change.

From The Independent

Tony Blair's ill-fated war with Iraq claimed two more victims yesterday when a civil servant and an MP's researcher were convicted of disclosing details of a secret conversation between the Prime Minister and President George Bush.

MPs, lawyers and civil rights groups described the prosecution as a "farce" and accused the Government of misusing the Official Secrets Act to cover up political embarrassment over the war.

David Keogh a Cabinet Office communications officer, was jailed for six months. He passed on an "extremely sensitive memo" to Leo O'Connor, a political researcher who worked for an anti-war Labour MP, Anthony Clarke. O'Connor was today sentenced to three months in jail after an Old Bailey jury found them guilty yesterday of breaching Britain's secrecy laws.

At the centre of the trial was a four-page Downing Street document which recorded discussions about Iraq between Blair and Bush, held in the Oval Office in April 2004 in the run-up to the handover of power to the Iraqi government.

Keogh, who copied the document to O'Connor while he was working in the Cabinet Office, said that he acted out of conscience because he believed the document showed Bush to be a "madman".

O'Connor passed the document to Clarke, but the Northampton MP alerted Downing Street who in turn handed it over to the police. Clarke's action won him the gratitude of the Prime Minister. Blair wrote a letter to the MP in which he said: Tony, I know we differ over this issue but I just wanted to thank you for doing the right thing. Sometimes the good stuff has to be done privately.

Clarke said yesterday that justice had "not been served" and urged his former researcher, to appeal against the verdict. He said O'Connor did not have a bad bone in his body and had acted honestly at all stages.

Throughout the trial, the public and press were excluded from parts of the hearing which referred to the contents of the highly sensitive memo. It is a contempt of court to publish details of the memo.

David Perry, prosecuting for the Crown, told the jury: We live in a democratic society, not the Wild West. It is not for people to decide they are going to be the sheriff in town.

But Keogh's barrister, Rex Ted QC, said there was nothing in the document that related to British troop action in Iraq. He told the judge that Keogh had not acted for a political motive but had been following his conscience.

Last night the Government was accused of making examples out of the two men in order to protect Tony Blair's embarrassment about what he had said to Bush. The eminent human rights lawyer, Sir Geoffrey Bindman, said: The amendment to the Official Secrets Act was supposed to limit prosecutions to cases where harm to the public interest could be proved and it's not clear whether in this case any damage to the public interest has been done.

Keogh was found guilty of two counts of making a damaging disclosure, O'Connor of a similar single count. The two men were granted bail and made no comment as they left the court but Keogh's solicitor, Stuart Jeffery, said that his client would be "shell-shocked".


8th May

    Electrifying Injustice ...


Man arrested for photographing electricity pylon

From Kent Online

A structural engineer from Kent claims he was held in a police cell for 18 hours after being mistaken for a terrorist.

David Neale, who lives in Rainham, says he was driving through Cornwall when he stopped with a friend to take a picture of a pylon and suddenly found himself surrounded by armed police.

Neale says he was arrested under the Terrorism Act, but, after 90 minutes sitting in a police car, the charge was dropped to conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

Police have denied his arrest had any link to the act.

The man was arrested with his friend Jay Curtis and taken to Newquay Police Station where they were questioned and left in the cells overnight before being released without charge.

Neale also says he returned home the following day to find police had raided his home and seized his computer.

Neale said: I design and analyse pylons for a living so have a genuine interest in them. That’s why I stopped, but the next thing I knew six cars had pulled up and police were brandishing guns. They just didn’t believe it when I told them what I was doing. They were convinced I was trying to blow them up.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed David Neale was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage on April 4.


21st April 2007    A Snapshot of Police Repression ...
Petition to clarify the right to take photos in public places
Haw forced to teh ground by police outside parliament

Have you got a licence for that camera?

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to clarify the laws surrounding photography in public places.

Through history, we have documented the world around us, whether through written word, art or photography.

Photography in particular has provided fantastic insights into the past and present, and is a hobby enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.

But today, it's becoming increasingly difficult to take photos of our surroundings, particularly in cities like London.

In recent years, the price divide between professional and consumer equipment has blurred, and it's quite common these days to see amateurs and hobbyists carrying around tripods, SLR cameras and a backpack full of equipment.

Yet, we are constantly harassed by security guards and police officers in the name of preventing terrorism. They seem to be operating under a different interpretation of the law to the rest of us, believing that somehow the length of your lens, or size of your camera is relevant.

We would like clarification by the government on the law regarding photography of buildings and landmarks from public locations.

Update: Result

Closed with 5792 signatures

Statement from No 10 Downing Street:

There are no legal restrictions on photography in public places. However, the law applies to photographers as it does to anybody else in a public place. So there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations, inflame an already tense situation, or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace, to avoid a public order situation, or for the person’s own safety or welfare, or for the safety and welfare of others.

Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs. Anybody with a concern about a specific incident should raise the matter with the Chief Constable of the relevant force.


11th March

    Arresting Known Innocents ...


Journalists arrested simply so that the police can seize photos

From EPUK see full article

The first NUJ Photographers’ Conference heard claims that police are using their powers of arrest to seize journalists’ material and circumvent the Special Procedure Material protections in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).

Solicitor Mike Schwartz told conference attendees that police were circumventing the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Special Procedure Material safeguards, designed to protect journalistic material such as photographs and notebooks.

Schwartz, who advises a number of campaign groups on criminal and public order law said that the nature of newsgathering meant that press photographers were often in a better position to gather evidence than police photographers and videographers: At public order events, [press photographers] have got an inside track as to what is going on, much better than the police ever will. Their own clearly marked photographers are often behind police lines, whereas you are there as close to the action as possible, and that makes the material that you have in your possession of great value to the police.

What often happens is journalists are arrested, their material is taken from them, prosecution is not pursued, but then that material is used as part of the prosecution of non-journalists.

There are more formal mechanisms, with more rigorous protections for journalists and photographers, that the police are supposed to use to seize journalistic material, but my worry is that these mechanisms are being sidetracked by arrests of journalists being used as a way to getting hold of the material.

Under PACE, material such as a journalist’s notes, photographs, computer files or tapes are classified as Special Procedure Material, which have a higher level of protection than ordinary possessions.

However, according to Schwartz, the same material can be seized and examined by police if the journalist is arrested as a suspect and the material is considered evidence in the alleged crime for which they have been arrested.


23rd February

    Stop & Search & Spoil ...


No compensation for ruined holiday after police detain innocent travellers

Surely the state should compensate travellers who are incorrectly detained

From Muslim News

An innocent Muslim couple from Cardiff was left frustrated when they became the latest victims of the stop and search anti-terror laws at Cardiff International Airport.

Aisha Prichard, a Hijab wearing white Muslim convert and her husband Sadi Elhaloul lost out on their holiday because of anti-terror laws and were told there was “nothing they can do about it.”

The couple missed their non-transferable flight to Dubai on December 14, 2006, after they were repeatedly searched and questioned by over stringent South Wales constabulary officers only minutes before take-off.

The couple arrived at the airport at 8.30am and queued at the KLM desk 22 minutes before check-in opened. By 10.25am they were issued with their E tickets and had their luggage checked and made their way to departure lounge. Having been successfully searched the couple made their way to the boarding gate at 10.30am. But as they approached the gate they were met by two Special Branch officers, who asked about their destination to which they replied they were going to Dubai via Amsterdam.

They were asked for their passports and boarding cards and told by the officers to accompany them to a room for further questioning. On the way to the room they were asked why they were heading to Dubai, if they had anything in their possession, and how much money they carried. Once in the room, they were asked for their residential address and contact numbers. The officers left the room and returned to repeat their initial questions of why they were heading to Dubai, if they had family members there and if they were employed. They were then asked for their martial status and dates of birth.

They were then told to empty their hand luggage for inspection. Again the same set of questions was repeated for a fourth time.

At 10.45am, five minutes before take off, the officers left the room only to return a few moments later to announce they were going to remove the couple’s luggage from the aeroplane to search it.

Having searched their luggage and found nothing unauthorised, Aisha and Sadi were told the plane had taken off. It was at this point Aisha became upset and burst into tears telling them that they can’t do this to us and that I would be going to a solicitor to sort this whole affair. Sadi then told them that they were in the wrong and had not done their job properly. They also told the officers that they had since 8.30am to question us and our luggage had been on the aeroplane since 9am. The officers both replied by saying ‘we had arrived late'.

Their interrogator told the KLM adviser to put them on the next flight but to the couples shock, they were told they had to pay 1,500 for new tickets. I said you must be joking, I’m not paying that. The officer went to a separate room with the KLM employee. When he emerged Aisha told him it was his responsibility to eradicate the problem he created. The officer left and returned to say my boss said we can’t do anything for you.

In a statement to The Muslim News South Wales Police confirmed the incident took place but said it was done under powers set out by national legislation, which is used to carry out our duty to protect the public. After questioning, searches were carried out, and they were allowed to continue on their journey.

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