UK cop: 'War on terror means no pictures of police vans in disabled parking spots'

Scott DeathBoy sez, "Blog post about a photographer's interaction with a police officer, who wrongly tried to have him delete the photo of their van in a disabled bay (referencing terrorism). The photographer held their ground and the policewoman backed down after checking her facts."
As soon as I had taken a shot, PC Smith (40144) came out from the train station and asked to speak with me. She asked why I'd taken a photo of her van. I told her that it was parked in a disabled bay. She told me that she'd been called because a woman was self-harming on the station and that was the only place she could park...

I asked her why she wanted the photo to be deleted, she told me that "in the current climate" the police had been asked to stop people from taking photos of sensitive buildings and of the police.

That isn't true - and I told her so.

She was told by her superior that she could take down a description of me. I told her that asking to delete photos was silly because they can be easily undeleted. I also thanked her for not escalating the situation. I left. As I left, I allowed my phone to post the photo I'd taken to twitpic.

Police, Camera, Action... (Thanks, Scott Deathboy!)


  1. No, not this time, this time the photography was an asshat.
    Yeah the policewoman was embarrassed at being caught and she was wrong to try and use the law (which is stupid anyway)to get the photo deleted.
    But she had a legitimate excuse for parking there, as she was responding to a situation.
    The photographer on the otherhand decided to be an asshat and go ahead and post the picture and even include her name and badge number.
    In this situation I would have deleted the photo.

  2. But she had a legitimate excuse for parking there, as she was responding to a situation.

    Well, if she has done nothing wrong, then she has nothing to worry about. At least that’s what the powers that be keep telling us.

  3. The police are civilians. As the law currently stands, there are few safeguards on taking photographs of civilians in public – indeed, the entire CCTV network is predicated on the fact that there is no presumption of privacy in public.

    So the police can’t demand anything. On the other hand, they often have to do things in a hurry so I think them parking in a disabled spot is OK.

    Taking photos of a police officer committing an illegal act e.g. assault would definitely be allowed.

  4. Well, it’s not quite Paris in ’68, but I guess our generation can only rebel against what’s in front of it.

  5. If he had done anything wrong then surely deleting the pic would be destroying evidence.

    The police don’t have the right to delete your pictures or make you do it. But they can take you to a police station, take your DNA and keep you in a cell for 8 hours for no reason.

  6. The officer *was* doing something wrong. She was asking the photographer to delete the image.

    How she was parked is entirely irrelevant to who was in the wrong here. What if I have a photo pool for police vans?

    Minor victory. ::applauds photographer::

  7. Yeah Zergon, she was so busy preventing this self-harm incident that she was able to come out and have a nice little exchange, including her supervisor, as soon as the picture was taken.

  8. Hello, I’m the “asshat” who took the photo. I’m also the same “dick” who video’d my Stop & Search last year –

    As I say on my blog – – I have no reason to doubt that she was on a genuine call.

    If she hadn’t have come out, I’d only have sent the photo to the police. If she’d just come out and explained what she was doing, that would have been the end of it too. But because she asked me to delete the photo, I posted it.

    Yes, Guernican, it’s not a real revolution, sorry for not living in Iran.


  9. Yeah, none of them have been briefed on the law. A community support officer told me not to take pictures when the police were forcibly restraining someone at Waterloo (and the crowd thought it was brutality). I actually laughed when he said it because I’ve heard so much of this stuff on the net. The crowd erupted at the guy who said it too.

  10. She’s not even in the bay! She was probably embarrassed about her parking. I make no allusion to the spatial awareness skills of the genders. Oh wait…

  11. The officer was responding to an emergency that had been resolved before the conversation, so the van was necessarily parked in a disabled bay. But, as clearly stated, this is not the real issue here. The officer was not justified in asking for the photo to be deleted and it’s right for you to draw attention to this.

    Interacting with private photographers or the media is not something police officers do on a regular basis, which means mistakes are sometimes made. In this case, the officer was quite new to the force and had not come across such a situation before. That said, this is not the first time the issue has been raised and it is something Surrey Police has already started addressing.

    We provide media awareness training to most front-line officers. In the future these sessions will make clearer the wide rights photographers have to record police activity, provided cordons are not crossed. We will also soon be distributing a short booklet of media advice, which includes information on photographers’ rights.

    Thank-you to the photographer for responding politely and explaining you objections logically to the officer. It’s good to note that the situation was resolved using common-sense after discussion with the supervisor.

    Surrey Police

    1. Just to verify that user Surrey Police is legitimate. And thanks for commenting.

  12. someone correct my spelling?

  13. As an old Kingstonian circa 1935-57,I am delighted
    to see that the qualities and ethical standards of
    the Surrey Constabulary have not been compromised
    by the downward spiral of today’s standards of
    responsible community behaviour.They were a fine
    fearless exemplar during the Blitz and V-I and V2
    attacks of WWII.Performing way beyond the call of
    duty.The Surrey Police,especially their leadership
    are to be commended-Usque ab Ovo.@ Takuan, almost
    flawless but what else should we expect.However
    the old rules still apply.’I’ before’E’ except
    after ‘C’ other than that- may the wind be ever at
    your back.

  14. Takuan @19: paraphrasing Mao’s “Hundred Flowers”?

    Wasn’t the start of the quote “百花齐放,百家争鸣” ? (Let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend).

    I don’t know the wording of the rest of the line though – he waffled off about promoting socialism (yawn), and you only need remember the first 8 characters to seem knowledgeable… ;-)

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