Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Dear Jacqui, when will you ever learn?

Home Secretary Jacqui on the left. © Birmingham Mail

STOP PRESS: It's ILLEGAL, if a cop - even a smiling one - decides it is! Disregard my previous post.

Sweet Jesus, this is an incredible development. BJP reports here that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (above left), after the November meeting with the NUJ, has said that photography CAN be limited in public places in special circumstances, see her quote below, (my brackets):

'This may be on the grounds of national security (PJ's photographs a terrorist in the act - surely not news?) or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation (perhaps the institutionally racist Met Police beating up black people? Nah, not of interest to the public) or raise security considerations (weddings as we all know, are of a high extremist danger, read on). Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person's own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others'.

Thank you very much, Jacqui Smith!

Just to clarify, Jacqui, if there happens to be police officers present at my next job, can I assume that there is bound to be nothing of interest - whatsoever - for the public for me to report on? Nothing in the interest of the people that you serve, the people that elected you? Please, Jacqui, please get in touch, don't be so (camera) shy.

What exactly are the police protecting us photographers - and thereby the public at large - from seeing? Did the UK just become a four-letter word that spells I-R-A-N? No crime reported in the newspapers? Then surely we must live in a crime free society! Hurrah, Jacqui. Civilisation at last, thanks to New Labour - and The Met - one of the oldest police organisations in the world.

Here's some sobering facts on how the Met, in extreme cases such as public disorder, the armed forces were deployed, instead of what we have now, individual officers left to decide when to take individual journalists out of the equation.

Imagine Brixton in 1981, imagine 1985 imagine 1995, without the media. Erased from history, Jacqui? A young and promising photojournalist by the name of David Hodge was killed at the 1985 riots, and yes others died as well, but from governmental failures; institutional wrongdoing.

Individual officers deciding when to pull the hood over the nations eyes, let alone multiple bullets to the head. These are dangerous times, indeed.

Without getting too political, this government has had serious misjudgments on the issue of national security ever since the '45 minute' claim. A decision which so far has lead to the loss of over 100.000 Iraqi civilian lives.

But wait - Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary - makes things worse. Seven days ago a wedding photographer in London - on the very day of UN Human Rights Day - was detained for 45 minutes (oh, the irony!) under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Laugh your head off/cry your eyes out here.

So please, Mrs Thatcher, Jacqui Smith, I'm expecting a personal reply from you to the question; Exactly how many crimes have been prevented, how many lives have been saved by criminalising trained photojournalists to carry out their profession and their chosen duty to inform the public of events in their society?

Alternatively, Jacqui, here's another question; do we have a police force inexcusably unaware of its own operating limits, without proper training? Surely you wouldn't start killing innocent civilians to protect national security? Surely you have security of this country under control, without resorting to extreme measures?

PS, Jacqui, here's some video of your boys protecting national security in the last few days:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XxXfcgC67Z4 (gets interesting just before 4:00, and after that becomes compelling viewing for the mere fact that these (just like all the other) police officers don't have a clue what they are doing, no explanations for their actions, no knowledge of the law, no knowledge that they can get serious repercussions, even loose their job over this).

At least in my case, as soon as the officer in charge found out what the plods were doing, my equipment was released immediately. Don't know what happened to the promise that "all ground staff would get proper training on how to treat the press", though...do you, Jacqui?

ps, Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary: there is plenty more to come at Marc Vallee.

Bedtime reading for Jacqui only: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/apr/24/britishidentity.race Yes we have come along way, but why rewind the clock in the name of national security?


Dani said...

Brilliant post Magnus, I can feel the fire in your veins!

Interesting times for the press in the UK uh?


Magster said...

he he, this was the revised & polite post, you should have seen the first draft! ;)