Diverse policing for photographers

EIGHTEEN months ago the Metropolitan police agreed guidelines for officers on dealing with the media - see www.londonfreelance.org/photo/guidelines.html - and in March these were adopted nationally by the Association of Chief Police Officers. So how's it going?

The answer is: "mixed". One officer who has got the message encountered London Freelance Branch committee member Matt Salusbury while he was covering a demo outside Downing Street for the English Language Gazette. "I appreciate you want to take pictures, but..." the officer apologised, as he ushered Matt out of the path of an oncoming bus.

He even told Matt when it was safe to go back on the road: "You can take a couple of pictures, then I'll have to ask you to move for your own safety."

Another committee member, Pennie Quinton, had a very different experience while photographing a protest against the Met's Forward Intelligence Team (FIT), six of whom were just doing their job of snapping every subversive entering a meeting to plan protest against an arms fair in September (www.dsei.org). She found some of the attendees huddled on the front steps of the University of London Union, sheltering from heavy rain and police cameras behind a banner demanding that their privacy be respected, and police officers sheltering from the rain in a doorway opposite. She tried to stand with them to get picture of the demo. "These are our steps," one announced, and shoved her off.

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