Possible progress on policing

POLICE obstruction and surveillance of journalists at work were on the agenda of a recent
Jeremy Dear with the evidence: Photo © Marc Valée
Jeremy Dear with the evidence:
meeting between Home Office minister Vernon Coaker and NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear. The meeting seems to have gone well. Proposals from it include the development of guidelines to ensure that police "production orders" ordering journalists to produce source material do not become "fishing expeditions".

The subject of routine surveillance of photographers by the Metropolitan Police's Forward Intelligence Team also came up - see www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0804fit.html - and following the meeting, the NUJ may become involved in briefing officers on journalists' role and our needs in carrying out our work. There's more at www.nuj-policing.notlong.com

Jeremy also gave evidence for the NUJ at a 21 October Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights session (above, and see video at www.jchr.notlong.com). He told them police have stopped photographers snapping the London Eye, a railway station and the switching on of the Ipswich Christmas lights. The Committee questioned him on details of the Forward Intelligence Team's surveillance of journalists.

A photographer who recently rejoined London Freelance Branch told a Branch meeting he went to photograph Congestion Charge signs at the Bricklayers Arms roundabout to illustrate his blog. He was approached by police officers who told him that such activity might be "terrorist reconnaissance". The photographer didn't have his Press Card with him - as he wasn't on a formal assignment. The police did a check on his name and address and "went off after a while". A colleague advised that members should always have their Press Card readily to hand whenever they're out taking photographs.

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