Suffolk Police have apologised to a Bureau of Freelance Photographers (BFP) member after a police officer wrongly stopped him from taking pictures.
Member Phil Smith sought advice from the Bureau of Freelance Photographers after he was prevented from taking pictures of the switching on of Christmas lights in Ipswich town centre. A policewoman asked him whether he had a licence to take pictures and then ordered him to stop. He was required to erase his pictures and sign an Encounter and Stop/Search record form.
The BFP contacted Suffolk Police over the matter and also advised Mr Smith to make an official complaint. As a result, they have apologised to Mr Smith both in person and in writing.
“Shortly after making the complaint,” says Mr Smith, “I received a telephone call asking if a police inspector responsible for Ipswich Town centre could visit me at home. Later that same day the inspector called and he gave me a full verbal apology (with a letter to follow) for the way that I was treated.”
“He assured me that the officers concerned had been informed of the correct law in relation to the taking of photographs in public places. He also agreed that officers need to be better educated in these matters. To compensate me for the loss of my images he gave me a DVD that was produced by the company responsible for arranging the event.”
Phil Smith’s experience shows that it is worth making a formal complaint if you believe you have been unjustly treated by the police.
Meanwhile, a press photographer has just been given a £4,000 settlement by City of London Police in compensation for his arrest while trying to cover a demonstration in 2005.
Freelance Ben Leamy, whose arrest was captured on film by a colleague, was pushed against a wall, handcuffed, and imprisoned for 11 hours, despite having shown his press card and continually telling the police that he was not part of the protest. He also had his camera confiscated and not returned to him for a month.
The photographer has still not received an apology from City of London Police, who said that the settlement was made without prejudice and without any admission of fault on their part.