Meeting in London, beating in Dublin

Hello, hello hello...

THE NUJ is again meeting with the Metropolitan Police to press respect for the right to report. General Secretary Jeremy Dear along with photographers Molly Cooper, Paul Clements and Paul Mattson - and the Freelance editor - had a rather open-ended discussion with Chief Inspector Michael Caldwell of the Public Order division on 9 May.

The issue underlying other problems between police and reporters seems to be that,
Police photographers
Some photographers have more freedom of movement than others... and a guaranteed market. Mayday 2002 in London's Chinatown. If you had difficulties, do tell.
whatever Met policy may be, police involved in "public order situations" too often ignore the Press Card or are ignorant of the "PIN number" scheme that verifies it. Underlying that, it seems, is a tendency to divide the entire world into "us" and "them". The BBC get shunted safely behind police lines - and freelance photographers are frequently shoved in with protesters, detained, arrested and worse.

Photographers' involvement in "public order" training may help - not least as a reminder to constables that reporters officially exist, and must be an independent third party. As a next step, the NUJ will be organising a visit to the Met's Hounslow training centre on Tuesday 2 July. If you are interested in attending, contact Jeremy Dear at Headland House.

The NUJ in Ireland, meanwhile, is seeking a meeting with senior garda management over the arrest of photographer Stephen Humphreys during a Reclaim the Streets event in Dublin on Monday 6 May. His paper, the Irish Independent, reports that he was hurt after being surrounded by gardai who stopped him photographing the rally. Violence by gardai against peaceful protesters has caused wide concern in Dublin.

Irish executive council chair Mary Maher said: "Those involved in Monday's attack on peaceful protesters bring shame on the force." That working journalists should find themselves attacked by people charged with protecting democracy was bad enough: for it to happen just three days after World Press Freedom Day was worse. Irish Secretary Eoin Ronayne said this "appalling attack... strikes at the core of democracy. It is indeed fortunate that journalists and photographers were present on Monday to witness the unacceptable behaviour of some gardai."

Last modified: 13 May 2002 - © 2002 contributors
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