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Author Topic: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!  (Read 2843 times)

Offline Graham

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Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« on: January 20, 2011, 05:17:10 PM »
    Hi folks.
                  A little while ago I alluded to the fact that I had been made to delete images by the police.
                  They were the kind of pictures that you rareley see in newspapers these days, ie. pictures of news.
                  I thought I'd post my corispondance with the local police authority professional standards department as I think it may be of interest to some.
                  I'm aware that in the past (On the "other" site.) strong (moralistic) views have been voiced regarding press photography. I would like to think that any coments of this nature would be made under a seperate topic.
                     Cheers for now.
                                                 Graham. :tup:


                              

Report of incident outside Royal Derby Hospital.
By Graham Whitmore freelance photographer BFP membership no. AP/ xxxxxxxx

Hi.
       I would appreciate it if you could read the following report and comment on the points raised by email.
       Can I point out that I have already reported the matter via your “Contact us” page seeking general clarification and I have been contacted by ‘phone by Sgt. Xxxxxx who was most helpful. I suggested that I should put my concerns in writing and seek a written reply.

Thursday 2.12.10  3.15 pm

       I was at the scene of the RTC outside The Royal Derby and had taken 4 general scene shots taking care not to intrude on operations or include injured parties in the images. I was approached by officer xxxxxx and
I was informed that I must delete any images or have my camera seized.
       I was somewhat surprised by this comment which he reiterated and said that he wasn’t going to argue about it, and that they were being very strict on these things. I said that I felt that this would be destroying his evidence that I had done wrong and mine that I hadn’t. He said that it was their evidence and that it was a crime scene. I felt that it wasn’t the time to debate the legalities of his demands as the collision had only recently taken place and I felt sure that he had more pressing matters to attend. It is worth noting that a member of the public was at the time attempting to direct the oncoming traffic into one lane        
        I reluctantly agreed to delete the images in the presence of the officer. At this point the officer seemed satisfied, I asked if I could take his number which he was more than happy for me to do, I offered to shake his hand which he accepted and I left the scene.

My Points

1.   Under the circumstances I didn’t feel that he was in a position to seize and be responsible for over £5,000 worth of camera equipment.
2.   I was sure that a court order was needed to force the deletion of digital images.
3.   I was on the pavement in a public area there was no visible police cordon and I was in no way interfering with the work of the emergency services.
     4.   Was the area potentially being a crime scene relevant?

     5.   I am a member of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers and was working in this capacity. I believed, and still believe that I was operating totally within the law.
       I later managed to obtain data retrieval software and reclaim the images, which I processed and passed on to the Derby Evening Telegraph making them aware of the circumstances. They replied thanking me for the images and confirmed that a court order was required to delete images.
       The delay meant that I had missed the deadline for the next day’s publication. One of the images was however published on the paper’s website.
       The prevention of my going about my legitimate business and delaying my activities weakened my submission to the paper and, along with the subsequent time spent following up the matter, has caused me considerable expense and loss of earnings.
  

    Kind Regards   Graham Whitmore


Dear Mr Whitmore,
 
As the supervisor of PCxxxx, the officer involved in the incident you mention, I have been asked by my Inspector to make contact with you. Do you have a number I can ring please ? I have answers to the points you raised, and need to discuss the way forward. If you wish to communicate via e-mail, let me know and I'll give you a definitive run down.
 
Hi David.
             I would prefer an email response (ie, written.). But if you need to contact me by 'phone you can get me on xxxxxxxxxx
                     Cheers for now.  Graham.




Graham,
 
No problem. The circumstances as related by yourself have been confirmed by my officer, so there is no discrepancy there. Taking your points individually then:
•   quite simply, in these circumstances we are not able to seize your equipment. Had we done so, then that aside, we would have accepted responsibility for its security and care.  
•   once an image is recorded, we have no power to delete or confiscate it without a Court Order, even if we think it contains damaging or useful evidence. It is a matter for editors to control distribution or publication thereafter.
•   accepted fully.
•   the area potentially being a Crime Scene has great relevance. As you can appreciate we are duty bound to secure the best evidence we can for either prosecution purposes or on the behalf of a coroner in the case of serious or fatal traffic collisions.
Having spoken with my officer, I am happy that he acted as he thought fit at the time. He was presented with a potentially life changing incident in its early stages, so it was important that he acted positively and quickly. Without making excuses, our natural mind set is to secure an area with a ring of steel through which nothing goes in or out. Our dealings with the Press at Pc and Sgt. level are fairly limited, but it is recognised that there is much of mutual benefit that co-operation can achieve.
 
To this end we have a set of operating procedures and guidance to refer to. Individual officers understanding and retention of this information differs widely as you would expect.
 
Your dealings with PC xxxxx seemed fairly cordial, so I trust there was nothing in your encounter which caused you undue concern. I have drawn his attention to your e-mail and recommended his perusal of the guidelines for dealing with members of the press.
 
To finalise this matter I am required to seek your approval for what is termed a local resolution which I feel in this instance is the most appropriate course of action. This means that your views are officially recorded and the officers attention is drawn to them. An action plan is discussed which in this case I suggest consists of a review of our guidelines by the officer.
 
This will conclude the matter as far as the officers conduct goes. I note however that you mention in the final paragraph of your e-mail, loss of earnings and expenses incurred. This is outside the scope of my duties, but if you are intending to make a claim of some description, then I will be happy to forward that on to our Force Solicitors for their consideration.
 
I trust this meets with your approval.
 
Regards.



Hi Dave.
            I'm sorry it's taken so long to reply but I've been away for a couple of weeks.
            I see that you require me to give approval for local resolution. If you could just indulge me for a little longer I'm sure that will be forthcoming.
 
            I understand your points about the area being potentially a crime scene and agree with them fully. However I fail to see how my photographing the scene in the way I was compromised that.
 
            I am also in agreement that your officer was acting as he saw fit at the time. I would say though that the fact that he said that they were being very strict on this, leads me to believe that your officers have been given some rather dubious instructions.
            I now realise that it was the very early stages of the incident and that if I had held off from photographing the scene and waited a little (Loitered with intent?) perhaps the outcome would have been a little different.
            I'm very happy that you say that there is much of mutual benefit that co-operation can achieve.
 
            I am slightly alarmed that you feel that I would expect your officers understanding and retention of operating procedures to differ widely, particularly on something so fundamental.
            
            Yes, my dealings with PC xxxxxx were fairly cordial, but then I'm a cordial kind of guy! He came across as efficient and accertive and I hope he'd be the same if I was trapped in the vehicle.
    
            Regarding any claim for loss of earnings.  If I were allowed to continue my legitimate business and make a timely submission to the local press, I would have expected to receive payment based on NUJ guidelines of circa £85.00 I would be grateful if you would pass this on to your force solicitors for their consideration, as you offered. Beyond that it is not my intention to pursue a claim for loss of earnings


Graham,
 
All noted thank you. I have passed the salient details on to our Legal department for their consideration. I
dare say they will respond directly to yourself after due consideration.
 
Regards.



Hi again Dave.
                          Thanks for your continued attention.
                          All my "niggles" have been addressed and I'm happy for this to be filed under "Local Resolution".
                          Obviously if I can be of any assistance please feel free to contact me.
                          Can I wish you and your team a happy and safe new year.
                                        All the best.  Graham.





Many thanks Graham, I shall file accordingly. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
 
All the best.
 
Dave


 

      

                              

                            


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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 05:47:05 PM »
Hmmmmmmmmmm.....

Very interesting exchange.

Is it

1. an inexperienced copper made a mistake in a pressure environment, kept his cool and his superior gently retrains him and apologises in a very courteous way

Or

2. Something a bit more sinister.  Police issue illegal guidance to officers on the beat then try to smooth it all over afterwards.

I think it's 1 - but the directive "no, you can't tell photographers to delete stuff" is pretty hard to misunderstand.
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Offline alan1572

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 07:15:34 PM »
it is indeed interesting, am i right in saying that the police can't seize your equipment but the can if they want as long as they take responsibility for it?
which one is it?
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Offline Oldboy

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 07:19:49 PM »
Well done Graham both for been cool at the time and for following it up.  ;D

Offline Jonathan

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 07:25:18 PM »
it is indeed interesting, am i right in saying that the police can't seize your equipment but the can if they want as long as they take responsibility for it?
which one is it?

I THINK they can seize pretty much anything they want.  As long as they have probable cause.  But of course have to look after i while they have it.  So if they seize your camera and it mysteriously gets broken they have to compensate you.  [This seems right and fair]

They cannot order you to destroy anything (except maybe the beer in a can...).  So if they took your camera and the card "got wiped" you could claim compensation.  Or their chaps to recover it (trust me, they can recover pretty much anything if it's important enough).
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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2011, 11:21:21 AM »
And i think that up sums up the crux of the matter - do you want to risk "El Fuzz" making off with your kit, especially if said Fuzz is busy trying to contain a crime scene, or just go through the motions of deleting and then recover them when you get home?

Personally, i think i would have followed Graham's route. You can't beat a Fuzz on a mission - they are the law until you can prove otherwise (by which time it is too late), and i still believe they are people who can hold a grudge. No offence meant but at the end of the day they are human and with the best will in the world some human tolerances are lost in every day aspects of a profession.

Offline spinner

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 11:47:33 AM »
I realize that this and the 'other' site are photography centric, but I just cannot comprehend how these things keep occurring over and over, particularly when a lot of the incidents relayed on sites are drawn from newspaper articles. Where on earth is the training and professionalism here? The local 'plod' as you people call them appear to be dunderheads. Is it the quality of the hire? This is not a brag, but here in my area, that vast majority of people hired for Police have university degrees. Mainly because of economics, young people leaving university can't find jobs and Policing here pays very well.
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2011, 12:26:49 PM »
Oh were it that simple...

Being a plod in the UK is an extremely difficult affair, and i do have an awful lot of sympathy with the fine lines they have to tread.

Sadly, as with any industry/ profession, who can be found wanting.

The problem is, Policing is an industry that deals with the press in a very big way and those people always seem to bring themselves to the attention of the press/ photographers in a very wrong and public manner. They very much need the press in this modern society, but they can't have it on just their terms - freedom of the press and speech just doesn't work that way.

Did we mention that generally speaking Plod is not the best paid job in the UK either...

But then did the UK ever pay people their true worth...

Offline anglefire

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2011, 11:56:36 PM »
One good thing about the 1D series (And equivalent Nikon et al) is that you can record to both cards - when you delete it only deletes the main card, not the backup. Or at least I'm sure that is how the Canon works - I must check over the weekend  :tup:
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Offline Oldboy

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2011, 01:01:02 AM »
One good thing about the 1D series (And equivalent Nikon et al) is that you can record to both cards - when you delete it only deletes the main card, not the backup. Or at least I'm sure that is how the Canon works - I must check over the weekend  :tup:

Only if you select that as an option.  ;D

Offline anglefire

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2011, 07:46:32 AM »
Oldboy, True!

I must admit I've taken to recording RAW on the CF card and Jpeg on the Sd card in mine - 90% of the time the Jpeg is fine. I only switch to just RAW if I need the extra speed - and Jpeg only if I need the buffer.
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Offline Skhilled

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2011, 08:28:01 AM »
I've always wished that deleting photos were like the Recycle Bin on Windows. It puts them into a temporary holding cell until you "Empty the recycle bin". ;)

As for the incident in general, I would have thought the officer would want to confiscate the photos for evidence instead of deleting anything that could prove the case one way or another. Something is definitely not right in this situation. If you want to get to the truth then you need every piece of evidence you can find instead of destroying it. ;)
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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2011, 08:28:34 AM »
So the moral of this story is to go out and buy £3k+ worth of camera body if you want to "appease the fuzz" and keep the shots...  :doh: :-\

Wife isn't gonna be happy with that one!

Offline Skhilled

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2011, 08:41:45 AM »
LOL!
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Offline Paul Montgomery

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Re: Dragged in by the "Fuzz"!
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2011, 06:55:59 PM »
So, its a choice - appease the law, or appease the wife. And this is one of those rare times  when the wife isn't the law  ;D

 

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