back to article Sussex police try new tactic to relieve snappers of pics

The problem of police decision-making on who is permitted to take photographs of what is highlighted again in a disturbing incident at the weekend, where film was seized at an anti-fascist protest in Brighton. According to a statement by Sussex Police: "Under Section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act [1984], an …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    All the more reason

    To have an Eye-Fi flash card in the camera and have it configured to access any open network it comes across and upload on the fly the image/video files to Picasa or one of the other image/video storage sites.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is going to keep happening

    Until someone with the resources to bring a judicial review puts them in their place.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't a one off

    The police have been doing this for years!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple technical solution ...

    would be to duplicate the pictures taken at the time. If taken on a camera phone, have a script which uploads them to remote storage on the Internet. If not then a connected PDA might be able to copy off the files over USB as they are generated perhaps?

    There would be no cause to have both copies under this act.

    1. BenR


      And trust Plod with technology??

      That'll end well!

      (in all seriousness though - good idea. Simple solutions for a complex world!)

      1. C Yates
        Thumb Up

        Too true (@BenR)

        Recently a member of our staff had her purse nicked. Said member was able to get CCTV footage from the petrol station, yet the police were unable to use it because it wasn't in a format that they recognised.

        All it took was the download of a trial edition of the software the cctv system used (identified by googling the file extension) and lo and behold I had the footage within an hour.

        Oddly enough they didn't catch the guy =P

    2. Reg Sim

      AC; yes good idea, how much will that cost for the causual observer?

      I bet you are a popular sales person for the mobile company's trying to pimp data at an extortionate rate.

      The best solution is for them to just stop doing this. I noticed in the article it does not say how long they plan to hold the 'evidence' before release (or duplication).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any Wifi/3G-enabled camera/corders out there?

    Ones that can automatically upload pictures or videos to a server as soon as they are taken?

    If not then there's a market for them.

    1. Lottie

      Not as far as I know,

      but there are SD cards that look around for open wifi points and upload as soon as they find one.

    2. Chris Pearson

      There's a memory card for that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        Thanks for that Chris... That might come in useful.


    3. Mark 65


      Pro SLRs are normally WiFi enabled - inbuilt or addon - so I guess that means journalists are covered.

      1. chr0m4t1c


        A lot of pro SLRs can also take two cards and write an image to both cards at the same time, so only one card would need to be given up in any case.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    The next tactic will be "have you got a receipt for that camera - I'll need to confiscate it to check it hasn't been stolen".

    You can collect it in 3 months time from John O'Groats police station".

  7. Christoph Silver badge

    Isn't it lucky ...

    ... that they didn't do this with the video of the assault on Ian Tomlinson.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      ...because if they had confiscated the video we might never have been able to succesffuly prosecute the thuggish police man who assaulted an innocent man.

      Oh wait, even with proof the C(rap) P(iece) S(hit) can't prosecute.

      Gotta love fascism, no other choice really.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Criminal Protection Service.

        1. Graham Marsden


          Coppers' Protection Service...


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Big Brother

            coppers. criminals

            there's a difference?

            1. Charles Calthrop
              Thumb Down

              re there's a difference?

              Having lived on a council estate in inner city manchester for 10 years I can tell you that yes, yes there is a difference. One are a group of drug dealing, murdering, alcholic, braying, anti social, anti education, nilhistinc bunch of theievy pikey scum, the other are a bunch of helpful, curteous and caring people. Alright, there is a gripe here with the police, but to dismiss all policemen as criminals is almost as morinic as my heroin dealing next door neighbour. Almost.

              I sincerely hope you come to realise the idiocy of your statement in your own time, without having it focibly altered by circumstance.

              1. Mad Dave

                I lived on a Council Estate (in Glasgow, for what it's worth) for 20 years

                And never once was I assaulted by anyone other than the police.

            2. Anonymous Coward

              @coppers. criminals

              Yeah, coppers are salaried, criminals work on commission.

              (I was going to say that coppers have uniforms, but the rogues local to me all wear shell suits and baseball caps, so they're effectively in a uniform too.)

  8. Alex King
    Thumb Up

    Not worried

    No, I rather think that, had I been assaulted, I would want the police to seize video evidence of the act taking place. The swift and accurate prosecution of a physical assault outranks the need for a journalist to get the video on youtube quickly, in my view. If he gets it back unaltered once the police have viewed it, I don't really see the problem.

  9. Wokstation

    I was under the impression...

    I was under the impression that S19 only applied if they reasonably believed the evidence would be lost if they failed to seize it. As such, a reasonable promise to deliver a copy of the evidence to the station should suffice rather than the seizure of the film.

    Feels like the police-on-the-ground are actively resisting having their control of photography being eroded.

  10. NoDosh


    Someone alleges a crime so plod casts about for cameras for evidence. For some reason they ignore every mobile phone (most of which can take pics and video) and opt for the camera that I suspect might just have been pointing at them. Suspicious? Moi?

    Strange that when people offer their cctv footage to police as evidence of their car or house being vandalised, the police rarely seem to interested in viewing it or taking it seriously. And by strange I obviously mean "bloody predictable".

    Badgers? Well it's black 'n' white sarge, yer actual prima facie evidence 'n' stuff.

    1. MinionZero

      @Alex King: "had I been assaulted, I would want the police to seize video evidence"

      So what would you do if you were treated badly or even assaulted by the police?

      Whilst most police try to do a good job, often in difficult circumstances, no one can deny that some police do not follow every rule and some even break the law very badly (as the news yesterday showed about that assault case jailed officer, who throw the woman to the floor in the jail cell).

      All Police have to follow strict rules of conduct, yet some bad elements think their police powers comes from their uniforms and not the law and so they act like they are the law; that their words are law and you cannot tell them no, even if you are totally right and totally within your rights to speak against what they say. (Don't forget people with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder are attracted to jobs that give them power over people, yet that kind of person is the wrong kind of person to be in the police because they are so unfairly Narcissistic). Cameras have the power to undercover these bad officers. Its no wonder then that some police are going after cameras and don't like to be filmed. If anything they need to be filmed far more often and in situations where they cannot get access to the film to destroy evidence of their own wrong doing.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Psychometric testing

        That is why psychometric testing is now used in recruiting for sensitive work but. However, there is a clear burden on the police to provide facilities at such protest meetings that enable them to download appropriate copies of material supposedly containing evidence. There is no longer any need to confiscate (temporarily steal) someone's property as a tiny portable machine with large storage capacity will do the job. The problem of them attempting to nab unrelated personal filming remains.

        1. A J Stiles

          Re: Psychometric testing

          "That is why psychometric testing is now used in recruiting for sensitive work"

          Shame it doesn't work.

          1. Scorchio!!


            and you're talking to someone trained in the psychology professions, someone who'd like to see you adduce evidence in support of your claim. Otherwise this is just verbiage. Before your respond, remember that the onus is always on the claimant. Now get to it.

            1. A J Stiles

              Burden of proof is on you

              Notwithstanding that the burden of proof is upon *you* as the one making the extraordinary claim (not working is the default position), you must surely be able to see that it's trivial to give the answers that you think the questioner wants as opposed to telling the truth.

              I saw an article on how to beat psychometric testing in an edition of 2600 (may have been Autumn, 1993) which I no longer have, and thought it was old hat then.

              This is not just snake oil. This is M&S™ cold pressed, extra virgin snake oil.

              1. Scorchio!!


                I have not yet claimed that they work, have I? However, there is good evidence in support of the robustness of tests for psychopathy for a start (take a look on the data for the MMPI also: ). However, and I put the point again, since you make a claim the onus is on you to produce proof in support of your claims. Here, outside of the fora where data are chewed over - particularly in peer reviewed journals, in laboratory replications and other tests - you are just an individual making claims with nothing to support them.

                FWIW all human science is, like the hard sciences, a matter of probability. There are always outliers at each end of the distribution, and that means there will be both false positives and false negatives. People guilty of scientism are prone to claiming that a single exception is proof of failure. Were this naive falsificationism (a la Popper) a valid position then much of modern science would have been rejected.

                So much of modern science is in fact serendipitous, but that is for another day. Where are your data? It needs to be better than remarks like "I read a book once, it was blue". Your mark for your 'essay is 1/10 for effort only. HTH.

              2. Scorchio!!


                One more point missed in my response; there is *no* default position, never mind that something is not working. There must have been something about null hypothesis testing that you didn't understand when you generated that view; the correct view is one of not adopting preconceptions. Anything else constitutes ascertainment/recruitment bias, a substantial cause of false convictions and mistrials, to say nothing of the matter of false allegations and, here I am again, on topic and pointing out that Salem is not merely a word. YMLT read about it. It is very instructive, both methodologically and from the perspective of the current debate, from which you seem to have slid.

    2. Mad Dave

      If he gets it back unaltered once the police have viewed it

      Can I just say


  11. Harry

    It is tempting to suspect

    ... that the true intent is to check whether the footage contains anything that incriminates the police, in which case that footage will be conveniently and "accidentally" lost or destroyed.

    If the police believe somebody has evidence, then it might be reasonable to expect them to provide a certified COPY of it and it might even be reasonable to require the original to be handed to a mutually agreed third party to produce the copy (at police expense, of course) but the police clearly should not at any time be allowed to have the ONLY copy of the material.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Destruction of evidence

    "Sussex police clearly think that Section 19 entitles them to remove film and footage from people where they suspect they have evidence of a crime and they can say that they have reason to believe the person may destroy that evidence."

    ...and alternatively, where the Police believe one or more of their colleagues may have been filmed or photographed in commission of one or more crimes and the Police wish to ensure that any evidence is destroyed before it gets to the press or the Internet.

    This may spark some interest in having cameras synced with online storage services to ensure such accidents don't happen.

  13. PoorLumpyPony


    so legally the police can remove the evidence of themselves (possibly) commiting crimes with the full backing of the law?

    Particularly thinking examples such as protests where 'overzealous' crowd control may be questioned

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anon because they may be watching !

    Such is life. They were bound to use other excuses after the original acpo "guidance".

    Bet they wish that charge room cctv was as easily sorted !

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The cricle is now complete..

    So using section 19 once police officer can postentially break the law during a stop and search or public order event, and along comes another plod who will then conficate all the cameras in the vacinity as 'evidence' of said crime.

    Lets not be surprised if the cameras then get mysteriously lost in evidence chain.


  16. Lionel Baden

    nice idea

    Proffesional Digital cameras with Built in 3G synchronisation to host server :)

  17. andy gibson

    Reading the blog...

    Provides an interesting insight into the whole matter. First you're outraged that the photographer has had his film taken. Then you're sort of relieved that the police reply to say that it captured an assault - considering the nature of the march and the kind of thugs who usually attend them, you think its a good thing.

    Then you read the post from the guy who's film was taken:

    "When the footage was later taken I was told it was because I had filmed an alleged assault which occurred when a man on a disability scooter apparently drove over the foot of an officer."

    A disability scooter running over a coppers foot? FFS.....

    1. BenR

      Bloody hell.

      I missed that in the blog when I posted earlier.

      My point still stands though - you need powers like this for those occasions where someone is being obstinate about turning over something they need as evidence.

      Oh, and as for the suggestions about "agreeing to turn it over to a third-party at a mutually agree time and place" or whatever - the problem there is that once the item is out of the eyes/possession of the Plod, then who is to say the incriminating evidence isn't deleted before it's turned over?

      The same problem applies should you end up with incriminating evidence of a copper doing wrong though - they can just delete it as soon as they get their hands on it too!

      Fail - because I failed at reading the blog properly :D

      1. David Evans


        If its so important for the cops to have the right to access your pics for evidence, issue them with media storage devices. Then they can take a copy on the spot, without all of this nonsense. Of course that would take away the ability to do what they like with the images when there's only a single copy...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ACPO Media Guidelines

      Chief Constable Andy Trotter, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ media advisory group, told forces in a letter:

      "...Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order."

      1. dervheid


        "Sorry, your image/video appears to have been 'accidentally' lost/erased/deleted. We apologise for your inconvenience/loss."

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Yer professional camera will take pictures at ~5 frames a second at over 10 megapixels. And your professional photographer will want to store in the raw and not JPEG. 3G and wifi won't cut it.

      1. Mark 65

        Not as much of a problem

        Journalists and paparazzi tend to use jpegs for quicker time to print. You could always wifi to a colleague with a laptop in range of wireless n if it's somewhere where you suspect your gear may get lifted - such as the policing of a G8 summit etc.

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        @ AC ("Problem")

        Would it not be fast enough, if supporting 802.11n to some sort of local wifi receiver in your backpack, or a nearby friend's backpack? Sure, it can still be (dubiously) confiscated, but the s19 excuse won't apply if there are now multiple copies of said image.

      3. namelessphil

        Not really...

        Many pros already shoot "dual": The camera makes a RAW file and also saves a lower res medium quality JPEG for thumbnail/preview/mock-up purposes. These JPEGs could be uploaded to "the cloud" as a kind of anti-tamper insurance.

        Does any one know how you'd stand if you refused to relinquish the hardware because, say, you have reasonable grounds to believe the officer is technically inept, knows less than you about the equipment and may therefore damage it or the data on it?

        Can they use force to physically remove the equipment from your grip? Presumably they'd have to arrest you; can they arrest you for refusing to relinquish, or relaxing your grip on, the equipment?

    4. Vincent Ballard

      No, it's true

      I have talked to a Hastings policeman who is quite sure that he has the right to confiscate cameras if he believes they contain evidence.

    5. Anonymous Coward


      Its called perverting the course of justice.

    6. Scorchio!!

      You missed a bit

      This bit: "As I later found out the man concerned was told at the scene that he would not be charged which makes the ostensible reason they seized my film seem slightly ridiculous."

      A lie, IOW.

  18. Thomas Hook

    Evidence is evidence

    So, the police seize evidence of an assault (one human being having their human rights violated by another) and this is a Bad Thing? Let's not forget this could be key evidence in securing a conviction and would be questioned by the defence if it was allowed to leave the scene (where it could be edited/altered).

    No journalist I've ever met (which numbers in the hundreds) would ever give up their camera for the good of another human being when they have an editor to report to later that day, so I'd say the police having that power is vital.

    Mine's the coat with 'media impartiality?' written on it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Who says the police don't learn from their mistakes?

    "The officer reasonably believed the tape contained evidence of a protester being assaulted by someone taking part in the march...."


    Mr plod realises that someone videoed him pushing someone to the ground and beating them to death, and so releaves said person of the evidence of a crime. Possibly this plod is from the MET, or Wiltshire (or other place...)

    Anon because they know where I live.

  20. Nigel 11

    An easy techno-fix for professional photographers

    Pro cameras should be equipped with two media sockets, so that one is mirrored on the other. The police could request one, leaving the photographer with the other. It would also be a good idea if cameras digitally watermarked their media, so that any subsequent editing would be obvious.

    Another possibility would be cameras that upload via mobile broadband if a "panic button" is pressed. Uploading everything that the police officer was saying would be an added bonus!

  21. David Perry 2

    Assuming they return it...

    I took a photo of an incident about 5 years ago that I was witness to, and deleted the photo cos I couldn't see anything in it. The police, on hearing this, asked if they could have memory card to do an undelete - and sent someone round to do the formal handover. They never returned it though...

  22. BenR

    I can't help but feel...

    ... that we're only getting half a story here.

    At an anti-fascism demonstration/protest march, there is a bit of a fracas that is recorded on film/tape. Fine.

    Police (quite rightly) want to try to find those responsible for said fracas, presumably with a view to prosecuting. Good and proper.

    Police have obtained some suspected evidence - this is where it gets a bit murky.

    S19 allows officers to confiscate property if they have reasonable grounds to believe the property is evidence to a crime. If someone is camcordering the event, then I would suggest that's reasonable grounds straight away. The bod from the Met suggested (QUOTE) "that in his experience the easiest way to obtain photographic evidence of a crime was "to ask the individual concerned – or their editor where news media were involved". (/QUOTE) All well and good.

    <theoretical musings>

    BUT - what happens if you're at an anti-fascism rally, you record an event such as said fracas, a policeman asks if you'd be willing to turn over the tape/memory card voluntarily. You, being a dyed-in-the-wool anti-fascist, have no intention of complying with the fairly reasonable (in this case) demands of the officer.

    I would suggest that in the situation outlined, the use of S19 to obtain said (suspected) evidence was only right and proper. As long as the coppers return it in a reasonable time and in the correct condition, I don't really see a problem with this.

    </theoretical musings>

    That being said, given certain recent incidents, I wouldn't put it past our boys in blue to completely misuse and abuse these particular powers until a Beak gives them a legal bitch-slapping for doing so...

    WTF - because, well WTF? More information?

  23. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Nikon cameras

    I believe that certin Nikon bodies will let you store the photo twice on 2 different cards (Raw on one, JPEG on the other). Plod only needs JPEG, so presumably you could keep the other card - the same as the way they record interviews on 2 tapes?

    Unfortunately I bought into Canon, so no good for me. Of course I could always buy a Canon WiFi adaptor for each body, but would then need my laptop always on, and besides the WiFi adaptors cost almost the same as a 2nd-hand car (Reg standard unit).

    1. Lionel Baden

      Laptop ??!

      why not just use a smart phone ???

    2. Ball boy
      Thumb Down


      Nikon do have such a feature - damn useful it is, too - but it's no good when you're faced with an orificer of the law. Can you imagine the conversation going in your favour? "No, Officer: you keep that one, I'll have THIS one - they're the same pictures". <Sigh> "Okay son, you asked for it: I'm arresting you for deliberately obstructing an Officer of the Law. You do not..."

      Yep. Very useful those two slots. But not for this requirement. The only viable option is to have the second copy already stored away via the 'net - and storage device about your person will be subject to the same removal policy as the camera and its contents.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Canon has this kind of feature...

      It is designed to ensure that digital images cannot be modified (i.e. tampered with).

      However, that it shoots copies... no. Use Eye-Fi instead :-)

      1. Mark 65

        Re:Canon and dual cards

        As the 1D models have CF and SD card slots whereby you can write RAW to the CF and JPEG to the SD card you could make use of this or make sure the SD is an eye-fi.

        Most coppers wouldn't have a clue about the little SD card if you handed them the nice big CF one.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      You will find...

      That journalists (real ones, who comply with all the appropriate legislation, codes of conduct and journalistic practices) will happily turn over evidence, AFTER they've made a copy to preserve their journalistic material. Pulling out Section 19 only serves to upset the media more.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      ah bit what you fail to understand

      Is that the plod have this really nasty habit of "losing" evidence when it suits them.

      So for example we have the G20 where no cctv was working and where according to the Met they tried to save Ian Tomlinson only for the private video to leak which showed they lied.

      Its also been reported that the 4th Autopsy carried out on Tomlinson wont be released to the authorities by the plod who pushed him over, you have to wonder why, but not for long.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      Digital Watermarking

      This is already becoming "required" (and implemented) in cameras (including phone cameras) sold or able to be sold in the US. While obviously not advertised by manufacturers that do this, there may be attempts to go "under the radar" by severely limiting the quality of the camera in the phone - as well as reducing costs. It is not clear if there is a threshold of quality vs. requirements for digital watermarking of images.

      Government first started mandating electronic watermarking in printers in the 1990s to curtail easy forgeries by using color printers (Xerox, et al). This was extended to scanners, to prevent accurate digital copies of currency, and has ultimately made its way into cameras (voluntarily for forensic science markets, an easy reference is to prevent "forgery".

      Though this is not "codified" in an official (and therefore - searchable) regulation or order, I personally know of two court cases where forensic evidence was tendered (but not filed with the court - again, not yet public information) that the identity of the phone, including serial number, was offered to be extracted from digital images alleged to be made with the phone to confirm that they did, in fact, come from said phone belonging to the person who possessed the images. It was later determined for both cases, under different issues, that it was not necessary. Each case dealt with a different manufacturer of phone (Nokia, Motorola), so this does suggest that it is industry-wide.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      S19 only applies on premises not in a public place.

  24. Andus McCoatover

    50/50 on this one, to be honest.

    "The officer reasonably believed the tape (tape?? WTF? Betamax, perchance?) contained evidence of a protester being assaulted by someone taking part in the march. It has been seized temporarily to ensure that evidence cannot be inadvertently lost or altered and will be returned, intact, to the owner as soon as possible."

    That seems reasonable - ish. Evidence-tampering is a criminal offence - rightly so.

    The other side of the coin is that if it were Sussex Police doing the assault, taking part in the march by walking with the marchers I'd expect "Sorry, Squire, we lost it. How much did it cost? Will a fiver cover it?"

    Wot, no bluetooth cameras out there???

    (Update, there is at least one.

  25. Tequila Joe

    Nothing to see... Move along

    Quote - "It has been seized temporarily to ensure that evidence cannot be inadvertently lost or altered and will be returned, intact, to the owner as soon as possible."

    Well, not 'inadvertently' anyway.

    Can't help but wonder what would have happened to the pics of the police assault on Ian Tomlinson if they had been similarly seized, bearing in mind the Met's description of events before the pics publicly surfaced and contradicted the Met..

    I guess seizing the evidence might save the CPS from this sort of embarrassment in similar future events (

    - "After a thorough and careful review of the evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided there is no realistic prospect of a conviction against the police officer in question for any offences ... and no charges should be brought against him," said the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer.

    - He said other offences were considered but ruled out, including a charge of common assault which Starmer admitted could not be brought as there was a six-month time limit.

    Anyone else think the CPS were incredibly pessimistic with their approach of "no realistic prospect of a conviction against the police officer in question"? I'm sure they'd seem more convincing and Authoritative if the public hadn't seen the pics.

    Maybe it's time for citizens with cameras to start operating in teams to make sure evidence can surface when it is at odds with Authority's story, or is that against some terrorist legislation... sorry, anti-terrorist legislation?

  26. peter 45

    Script for coppers to follow

    Plod "I am seizing your camera under section 19 as I believe it contains evidence of a crime"

    MoP "what crime"

    Plod "Sections 4A and 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 Harassment, alarm or distress"

    MoP " Huh. Who was causing Harassment, alarm or distress"

    Plod. "You were"

    MOP "How? I was just taking photos"

    Plod "Exactly! So you admit the offence then?"

  27. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Someone in the police has been sitting down and thinking about this...

    They've definitely decided they want to take cameras off the public, they're just trying every law they can think of. They need bringing down a peg or two, they're there to ensure that the law is followed, not to make up their own laws.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Police state

      "Quote - "It has been seized temporarily to ensure that evidence cannot be inadvertently lost or altered and will be returned, intact, to the owner as soon as possible.""

      Like, never. Nor the camera. Why it's always that the seizing happens swiftly but the returning happens extremely slowly and never voluntarily?

      If you threaten to sue you might get your camera back, but phographs? Never.

      It looks very much that the police force may choose freely what laws (or parts of the law) they obey and what not, which by definition is the police state and not far from fascism.

  28. Ancient Oracle funkie

    Misleading ...

    ... or just incorrect first paragraph.

    As a keen amateur photographer I'm well aware that HM Plod seem to have a shaky grasp of the law in regard to photography. However this article, on the facts reported, has nothing to do with "who is permitted to take photographs of what".

    The tape, not the camera, was seized as the officer believed that it contained evidence of a crime being committed. Still a pain in the ar$e for the owner but not what the article would have you believe.

  29. Peter Mount

    Blackberries & other phones

    Don't know of an automatic method (yet), but take the photograph on the phone (using the media card) but have the phone upload to a remote service when you take it- twitpic comes to mind as I can do that manually.

    So as long as you have signal, they take the copy on the phone but it's still out there...

    Beer icon as I've just come back from lunch ;-)

    1. HighlightAll

      Nokia N900

      If the its camera were a little snappier... Put an SD card into it then RAID1 a partition on the phone's internal 32GB drive to the SD card.

      "Here occifer, have the SD card..." with a pleasant smile.

      Shame, you can't do this on, say, an HTC Desire because its internal drive is iccle.

  30. Spanners Silver badge

    I want

    an app that automatically emails every picture to a predetermined address. I would think it would be good if the address was asterisked out after being entered.

    1. HighlightAll


      'nuff said.

      Need a touching-nose icon.

  31. Christoph Silver badge

    It's not just photos of Plod committing crime that's the problem

    There have been plenty of incidents of police and prosecution accidentally forgetting to pass to the defence evidence which helps the defence case.

    If they've arrested someone for a crime and confiscated all the photos of what happened, are they going to present all those photos as evidence, or only the ones which help the prosecution case?

  32. Mark McNeill

    If you've got a clever phone & a decent signal

  33. Graham Bartlett

    @David Perry 2

    Obvious question, but have you asked them?

    My understanding is that if the police take something off you, they are required to give you a receipt for it. There then follows a long chain-of-custody paperwork so that they can show where they got it and where it went (otherwise the drug dealer's lawyer could easily stand up in court and say "so how do we know the £20 note contaminated with cocaine which the lab checked was the same £20 note taken from my client?"). So if you wave your receipt at them, there's a fair chance they'll be able to do something.

    Depends if you can be arsed or not, of course. A 5-year-old memory card might not be worth the time to wander over to the station.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Cocaine and Bank Notes

      Interesting factoid:

      More than 99% of bank notes in London ARE contaminated with cocaine:

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Use these instead ........ video sunglasses

  35. blackworx
    Black Helicopters

    All this talk of on-the-fly uploading...

    ...wonder how long it'll be before nearby access points mysteriously start "having technical difficulties" whenever there's any public order "policing" being done?

  36. OffBeatMammal

    auto image upload

    while a nice idea has a couple of drawbacks...

    - battery life: having a radio always on will diminish the battery life on the camera :(

    - speed: uploading a RAW image over a crappy GSM connection?!

    - cost: assuming cellphone upload the carriers are going to rake it in

    ... and all this for a very small percentage of images that are "lost" to the Police.

    Perhaps the answer is a return to old style Police Boxes witha USB hub so you can connect your camera and upload a copy of all the images/video for the date/time concerned and then both the photographer and the police have a copy to do with as they will...

    Heck, equipment to do that is portable enough to add to every police car and probably add to their utility belt...

    The moment they confiscate the only copy of an image there is going to be finger pointing... this solves that issue

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      I saw a "backup box" in our supermarket.

      €180, has a harddisc, USB host, various card slots. You insert media and press a button. All the known media files (MP4, MP3, AVI, JPG...) are copied from the card to the internal disc. I would imagine there's a delete-once-copied feature. Looked like a good way to clear off my SD cards that I use with the Neuros OSD, but I don't have €180 spare right now.

      If the inept government can blow millions on inept IT contracts, it can surely drop one of these in each cop car (well, a modded one to use SSDs; more shock-resistant). That such technology isn't turning up any time soon should, rightfully, raise eyebrows. It isn't about preserving images containing evidence of a crime, it is about getting those images out of the public arena.

      1. david wilson


        If they're just collecting /information/, then copies of things might be fine.

        However, if they're actually collecting potential /evidence/, they may legally need to do all kinds of things regarding chain of evidence, and might at best need some kind of custom box where they could record the relevant details, which effectively ends up being a portable PC with a card reader and custom software which prevents any tampering with the collected information.

        In practice, it may even be that at the moment, they'd technically actually have to keep the /original/ card as evidence, at least until it made its way into the hands of a suitably trained/authorized person to do the initial copying.

  37. RW

    Why the coppers hate photographers

    It's because they're doing things they're ashamed of and which are probably illegal. They'll deny it, but they know this in their heart of hearts.

    When did the cops stop acting like public servants and start acting like uniformed thugs countenanced by law?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    I happen to have PACE 1984 sat right beside me

    s.19 PACE 1984 (with relevant sections shown)

    (1) The powers conferred by subsections (2), (3), and (4) below are exercisable by a constable who is lawfully on any premises.

    (4) The constable may require any information which is [stored in any electronic form] and is accessible from the premises to be produced in a form which it can be taken away and in which it is visible and legible [or from which it can be readily be produced in a visible and legible form] if he has reasonable grounds for believing-

    (a) that

    (i) it is evidence in relation to an offence which he is investigating or any other offence

    (b) that it is necessary to do so in order to prevent it being concealed, lost, tampered with or destroyed

    (5) The powers conferred by this section are in addition to any power otherwise conferred.

    It appears that the Sussex police appear to have used the above to seize the video. As a professional photographer, and someone who has vested interests in the police (hence having a PACE book beside me), I am in two camps regarding this. When I am out taking photos for a night club I get regular work from, I end up taking photos which the police may become very interested in. As a professional, I endeavour to keep these photos on my camera and process these along with the rest of the photos I provide to the club, where the police may seize the photos. I would be highly frustrated if my memory card were seized throughout the night and I weren't to obtain it back until many hours later, but generally I have been able to discuss with the police that I am making all my photos available to them through the club, and lock the photos in camera to prevent deletion. However, I can also see how other photographers wouldn't be aware of the need for police to have access to these photos, and could easily delete these potentially critical photos to save space on their camera.

    I would suggest that if the police did start to use PACE 1984 s.19 seizures, they would more likely do this to the casual photographer/videographer, than journos. In this instance, if the videographer would have been able to convince the constable that (s)he was not going to remove/delete the footage, and s.19.4.a.ii wouldn't have applied, and thus s.19 wouldn't have applied in this instance.

    1. Red Bren

      Use an iphone?

      "The constable may require any information which is [stored in any electronic form] and is accessible from the premises to be produced in a form which it can be taken away"

      So if the "evidence" was recorded by an iphone or other device without removable storage, is the officer exceeding their powers if they try and take the entire device away?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      When did the police stop being public servants?

      When Thatcher sent the Met to disrupt and attack the Miners in order to provoke them for bias news reporting, I was there as part of my job and saw what the Met did but UK Police forces were ordered to cover it up.

      Posted anonymously because the only truth is the word of the Police.

  39. Ben Rosenthal
    Big Brother

    also in two minds

    few years ago I wouldn't have batted an eyelid at a copper "doing their duty" , but all the illegal stop and searches and beatings that we now get to hear about have made me highly suspicious of the boys in blue and I now assume the crimes they are so eager to get evidence of, are of their own doing.

  40. david wilson

    Sure, they'll destroy anything they don't like.

    Even for the paranoid, there's a significant risk if the police did confiscate material incriminating a police officer or other official, and ended up 'losing' it, that risk being that in a great many situations, they'd have no idea how many other people might have recorded the events, or possibly even already uploaded copies wirelessly.

    That'd be a tricky one even if they just took material from one person, but if they'd confiscated material from multiple people and it *all* disappeared, it'd be extraordinarily difficult for them to try and explain that away when the footage from the people they didn't find turned up.

    Whatever faults some individual officers may have, the police aren't collectively stupid, and except in fairly rare situations, aren't likely to happily conclude that having one copy means there aren't others, or that having lots of copies must mean they have them all.

    That doesn't mean that an individual officer might not try and do a bit of independent data-losing, but that's something that has happened over the years with or without the sanction of any particular act - after all, if someone's seen their mate being filmed seriously assaulting someone, they might consider the minor slap on the wrist they might get for grabbing the offending camera to be worth suffering.

    Still, it's refreshing that no-one has [yet] tried to blame NuLabour for the 1984 act.

    I guess it must be medication day down at the outpatient clinic for sufferers of dailymailitis.

    1. david wilson

      @Ben Rosenthal

      >>"...but all the illegal stop and searches and beatings that we now get to hear about..."

      I'm wondering what kind of timescale you're thinking of.

      What past decades are you comparing with today and thinking of as a Golden Age of policing, and in what part of the country?

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the Dziakanski taser-killing

    Back in late-2007, Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was tasered to death by the RCMP at Vancouver airport. The tragic incident was captured on a mobe by a bystander. Plod seized the video with a promise to give it back. Plod then issued false and misleading statement after false and misleading statement after false and misleading statement. Eventually our bystander hero had to launch a lawsuit to get back his video, which he promptly made public. Thus was revealed all the malfeance, incompetance and lies. Eventually the Braidwood Inquiry issued a couple of thick reports that tore a strip off the RCMP's hide, and implicated the taser as the most-likely cause of death.

    What plod doesn't get is that the public have more cameras than them. It's getting to the point where there will be cameras recording the seizure of the first camera. They have to start acting as if they're being recorded for the nightly news, because they are being recorded.

    With any smart phone, one can take a picture and have it on the web in less than a minute. Video takes several minutes to be transcoded and posted, but only about a minute to exit the phone. "You want a copy of my video officer? Look it up on YouTube. It'll be appearing there any minute."

    FAIL because plod is living in the past.

    1. david wilson

      @AC 16:09

      So even in that example, the police didn't destroy the video evidence.

      It's one thing for them to pretend they lost their own footage, or that cameras in a car/police station/whatever weren't switched on*, but rather riskier to destroy anyone else's evidence.

      (*Though even /that/ is rather harder when things are more likely to be digital, and leave trails that are harder for the average person to completely remove, compared to the old days when it could just be pretended that tapes had run out, broken, or gone missing.)

      Regarding the Dziekański case, though keeping the video evidence for a month does seem excessive, there really is at least some room for adult debate about how quickly things should end up being broadcast if there isn't a particularly pressing need for them to be shown one day rather than another (ie they're not related to some ongoing situation).

      For example, imagine a rather less clear-cut case, where someone took a video of a late-night altercation where a few people (police /or/ members of the public) at first sight looked like they probably were the aggressors in the situation, but given time span covered, the angle of the shot, what was/wasn't obscured, etc, it was still consistent with a different explanation.

      If there were also a few eyewitnesses, who had imperfect views and/or alcohol-blurred memories, if they could be interviewed before seeing the video, they could well give more generally reliable information than if interviewed after seeing it.

      Also, assuming that they gave evidence which agreed with the general impression of the video, if it turned out they had seen it before being interviewed, they might well be worthless as witnesses in a court case.

      There's certainly a balance to be struck between instant publication on the one hand, and the possibility of officially embarrassing video being sat on until it's thought to be maybe less embarrassing, or until PR people have prepared the ground.

      However, even if scoops might be good for journalists, getting things out onto the news (and now, onto youtube, etc) as fast as possible isn't some Universal Public Good, and really can end up having a downside, potentially meaning that the video evidence ends up pushing all other possible confirming evidence out of the way.

      That's bearable when things really are clear-cut, but often they may well not be, and the result could be people (in authority or just regular citizens) getting away with things they really are guilty of.

      People who are particularly suspicious of the system, and the way that officials do sometimes seem to get away with serious or even deadly force on one technicality or another should understand that instant broadcast can end up giving another technicality by which people could end up getting away with things.

      Who do you think is maybe more likely to have evidence against them thrown out, or a trial declared unfair, on the basis of prior witness exposure to video evidence - you, or a policeman?

  42. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Phone Cameras

    If you've taken stills or video with a phone then you could MMS them to another phone before surrendering your instrument to the police. With a smartphone you could probably email them, too.

    Any refusal to allow this would be prima facie evidence that the officer is less concerned with preservation of evidence than with its suppression.

  43. david wilson

    Maybe a sensible approach

    Now that pretty much everything will be digital and hence largely viewable at the scene, assuming the situation is calm enough to allow it, possibly a smart way to proceed would be for a senior officer present to actually look at the footage in question in the presence of the photographer, to see whether it's worth having in the first place (does it show the incident at all, and in sufficient resolution), and whether it clearly shows that a crime was committed or that one wasn't committed?

    If accidental loss has around the same ballpark probability as deliberate loss, it could be useful for the photographer to see if they actually had got a great shot of a crime (by state or citizen), or if they'd managed to take a picture that was blurred, of the wrong thing, or even had managed to take great pictures, but had bracketed them either side of an actual event.

    Possibly one of the worst (and easily possible) outcomes would be for the police to genuinely lose a memory card that actually had nothing worthwhile on it, but end up with the photographer thinking that they'd actually been deliberately denied their chance at fame, fortune and justice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Almost Sensible...

      ... but there might not be a 'senior officer' on hand on every occasion. Likely at a demo, sure, but then what's 'senior' mean? If we assume that the constable's up to no good, should we trust the sergeant? They've been constables, and they spend a lot of time with constables, so wjhat if they're sympathetic to the PC? What about an inspector? A superintendent? Who's word can we trust, if we assume that all cops are bent? And if we don't assume that all cops are bent, why demand oversight for the original PC?

      And don't forget that if we're talking about evidence that's thought to have been collected on a device of some sort, there are rules about how officers must handle it. Defense lawyers tend to have a great time flanneling juries with talk of how data was 'corrupted' because officers viewed it too many times, or because the device was used by someone without the proper training, and most juries don't know enough about it to argue with an expert.

      1. david wilson


        >>"And don't forget that if we're talking about evidence that's thought to have been collected on a device of some sort, there are rules about how officers must handle it."

        Fair point, though I guess if the police had asked the photographer to use their device to show them the footage, they wouldn't have handled it at all until they took possession of the card, and would at least have someone else they could call as a witness for what they did look at.

        It's really a case of at least giving the photographer a chance to see what, if anything, they might be giving up, and giving the police a chance to see if the pictures are actually worthless, dubious, good, or maybe things that deserve immediate attention (such as identifying a guilty individual they can get hold of at the scene).

        Possibly if a quick glance shows the images really do look useful, that could prompt getting hold of someone better-qualified to look after the pictures ASAP?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Sussex Police

    Sussex police have a reputation which used to, and obviously continues to, "dog" them. In the '90s I was stopped in my car having committed no offence, during daylight hours, just before Christmas. I was asked if I had been drinking - duh - and answered that regrettably I had not and after a walk around my 205 was allowed to return to Hampshire - about 3 miles away. Of course I also had to go the local Hants cop shop with my driver's licence and insurance certificate where the reaction said it all; I was not the first. Think there's some sort of masonic thing going on there, but then if men want to wear pinnies and do funny handshakes in private then who am I to complain? I just pay my taxes. Then again I suppose in some parts of the world I would have had the pleasure of a taser for my comments.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Tyrants Indeed

      So Sussex police are 'dogged' by a reputation for:

      * Using a long-established power to stop any vehicle at any time and speak to the driver without a specific reason (;

      * Asking you a sensible question about drink-driving given that most forces run a campaign on it at Christmas - you don't say that they breathalysed you, so I'm assuming they were happy to take your word for it, the unreasonable totalitarian bastards;

      * Making a cursory examination of your vehicle;

      * Using the above long-established power to require you to produce your licence (which, technically, it's an offence not to have with you, but see;

      * Allowing you to return home.

      Wow. And this earns them an ignorant rant about Freemasonry and "I Pay My Taxes". I always love "I Pay My Taxes", with the strong implication that doing something that everyone's required to do by law somehow entitles you to preferential treatment. Incidentally, have you ever taken the time to speak to a mason? Find out what they actually do, and what codes of conduct they have to follow? Or is the implied conspiracy theory there just more satisfying for you?

      And no, of course you weren't the bloody first person ever to have to produce your documents. Why on Earth would you suppose you were?

      1. david wilson


        The couple of times I've been stopped (or rather, decided to pull over because I was obviously being followed) for possible drink-driving, I've found the police perfectly friendly, and not hugely interested in documentation. I think I offered my licence once, and the other time, they didn't even ask.

        Even the time I had clearly too many drunk people in the back of a minibus, and was fairly obviously on my way back after an extended lock-in, all they were really bothered about was the fact that I was sober.

      2. Equitas
        Thumb Down

        Tyrants indeed

        Anonymous Coward wrote "And no, of course you weren't the bloody first person ever to have to produce your documents. Why on Earth would you suppose you were?"

        No, but the point surely is that an experience of the police behaving unreasonably diminishes respect for them and rather prejudices one against them?

        My own personal experiences of recent years have been extremely negative -- scum right up to Chief Constable level trying to nail me on totally-false allegations re child protection matters -- have led me to withdraw all co-operation from police. There are rotten apples in every barrel -- the trouble is that rotten apples who happen to be police officers are protected.

        Thankfully, in spite of their efforts, they were unsuccessful in my case.

        Interestingly, a friend of mine -- a retired VERY senior civil servant, was relieved of a new video camera by the grunts in a Scottish seaside town somewhere south of Glasgow on the ground that he had been taking videos of children on the beach. A year later, the case reached court. Evidence of the videos of children was demanded. There were no children anywhere on the video (and never had been). No case to answer.

        Police are best regarded with suspicion, IMHO.

        1. david wilson


          >>"No, but the point surely is that an experience of the police behaving unreasonably diminishes respect for them and rather prejudices one against them?"

          Certainly, and there are definitely serious cases of incompetence and/or abuse of power, but in most everyday interactions (like traffic stops) the way things develop will depend on the attitude of both the police and the individual.

          I'm pretty sure that if I'd tried, I could have turned both times I was stopped into at least a case of having to hand over all the documentation, and in the first instance, possibly a ticket for having too many people in the vehicle.

          >>"Police are best regarded with suspicion, IMHO."

          Possibly, but it's still best not to generally /treat/ them with obvious suspicion, unless one actually wants that suspicion returned.

        2. Aculeo


          "No, but the point surely is that an experience of the police behaving unreasonably diminishes respect for them and rather prejudices one against them?"

          No, the point *I* was making was that you're condemning Sussex police for an incident in which, by your own account, they did absolutely nothing wrong - nor even slightly contentious. In fact, by that same account, they were actually very reasonable with you. They *could* have found reason to demand you take a breath test. They *could* have picked fault with your car. They didn't. They just spoke to you briefly, took your word for it, and let you go on your way.

          I'd recommend that if you're determined to propagandise against the police, you find a better story to do it with.

          "My own personal experiences of recent years have been extremely negative"

          Yes, it shows. And rightly or wrongly, if you begin every contact with an open display of the mistrust you advocate, you're going to have a lot more negative experiences, I'm sure.

          "a friend of mine -- a retired VERY senior civil servant"

          Your friend's status as you perceive it isn't really relevant. If you want to complain on his behalf about that incident, I'd suggest you complain about the busybody who reported him, and the media and public who're quite happy to promote the current abject hysteria about paedophiles lurking in every shadow. Police do nothing, they're condemned for not investigating suspicions. Police investigate suspicions, they're condemned for interfering with the right of a retired VERY senior civil servant.

          Police are best regarded as individual human beings, and each assessed on their merits, or lack thereof. Prejudice is just an excuse not to bother thinking.

  45. JaitcH

    How can you prove the integrity of the evidence?

    I have taken pictures for use in court procedures and have always been interrogated, under oath, as to whether the material is question has been in my care and custody since the pictures were taken.

    This required my attending the developing laboratory and visually tracking the negative as it was developed, dried and subsequently printed.

    How can Plod attest to the safe custody and it's originality if the camera operator has his property purloined?

    More bent evidence?

    1. Mark 65


      Although it's something plod has none of, integrity of the photos can be determined on some cameras as they use a data verification system.

      The Canon version is shown below

  46. Dave 120

    what's the issue?

    So in reality only the memory card needs to be seized, until a certified copy can be made.

    The certified copy is then marked as an exhibit for investigative/court purposes. And you should be able to get your memory card back. If anything is deleted or modified in the meantime that could be considered tampering with evidence.

    The only difference between this story and seizing CCTV of shoplifters is the cooperation of person with the police.

    If you had photographed a crime, especially an assault, why wouldn't you want to help catch the offender? In fact its your duty to do so, "the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence"

    1. Wokstation

      Too right I'd want to help...

      ...and I'd do that by giving them a copy of the images. They've no reason to relieve me of my film unless they think I'm likely to abscond with the evidence or destroy it somehow.

      And that's exactly what I'd say. "Sure, you can have it. What time would you like to meet me at the station to receive it, officer?".

  47. Mr Templedene

    All this talk of eye-fi cards etc.

    Is all well and good, but having gone through the eye-fi website, you have to have anticipated which wi-fi hotspots you want to use, then registered them with the card. It seems they can't just hop onto any open hotspot, which is a shame in one way, but nice and secure in another. Imagine when everyone cameras could do that, cop car turns up, suddenly the box in it becomes the local wi-fi open hotspot!

    Yes you could tether to your phone, but then each pic you took could potentially cost you depending on your contract with your mobile operator.

    It's a nice idea, but not as useful as people think, even ignoring the slow speeds of most wi-fi hotspots.

    What needs to be done is someone has to think rationally through the process, and pass intelligent laws, unfortunately, I can't see this happening.

    1. Andrew Halliwell
      Black Helicopters


      IF you had your own local wifi hotspot in your backpack...

      THAT could then do the "connect to any available open wifi and upload elsewhere" thing.

      An eeepc or similar would be enough for that task.

  48. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    I have many questions about the laws related to this...

    Apparently "press passes" grant you the status of "real journalist." My understanding is that a press pass is simply a "company ID" passed out by the news organisation that the journalist works for.

    Who determines the validity of that press pass?

    Is it based on the acceptance of that journalistic entity by the event organisers/police/government?

    Do individuals with a press pass have to meet a specific minimum requirement for such things?

    Could a blogger with a reasonable (what's reasonable?) number of hits claim that he was a self-employed journalist and issue his own press pass?

    Could I, as a blogger for El Reg, be issued a valid press pass? Despite the fact that I have no journalistic training whatsoever?

    If I couldn't be issued a press pass, could anyone at El Reg? (I am thinking here of one of the folks with the full journalistic background?)

    If not, why not?

    What would separate El Reg from say, the New York Times?

    If El Reg could issue press passes but not the blogger, what is the dividing line there?

    Furthermore, how does this all affect the ability of the various individuals to be recognised as journalists in a situation where the plod are asking for your photographs?

    What rights to journalists have over regular citizens in such a scenario?

    I am very curious about this all, but all the resources I dig up on this give very conflicting information. I am hoping my fellow commenttards with more knowledge in this area will be able to fill in the blanks…

    1. Jane Fae

      Spot on...

      Actually, you have it in a nutshell, and there is no good answer...(and just wait for my next piece on this subject!).

      There are problems whichever way you leap. If you allow journalists to "self-identify", then anyone with a blog gets to be a journo...and the exemption spreads very wide.

      However, if you go the other route, with increasingly draconian rules about accreditation, you can end up with a situation akin to that in some highly authoritarian countries where a journalist can be kept in line by a threat to remove her accreditation.

      Which do you prefer?


      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @Jane Fae

        In all honesty, I prefer a middle ground. I believe that a legitimate new organisation should have to register with a central office, but that it not be a form of "accreditation." It should simply be a registry with a fee attached. The fee should be high enough to discourage Joe and Jane random blogger who just wants a press pass to wave about for ego purposes, but low enough that it is not unachievable for dedicated bloggers or not-for-profit new organisations.

        An organisation like The Register which may not produce a dead-tree edition is still nonetheless a legitimate news entity. It is the entity itself that I believe is important, not the individual reporter or blogger. The reputation of that entity should be the backing behind validity of a press pass. If registers as a news organisation, it should be able to issue a press pass to one of it’s bloggers. Individual events should have the right not to recognise if they choose, but police should not be given that choice.

        An event (such as Macworld for example) may choose to be selective about which press organisations it reveals information to. There are reams of business reasons why an event or company may choose to do this. A government or police organisation on the other hand should be allowed no such right of discrimination. Any news outlet which has gone to the trouble of registering it’s existence should have to be recognised by the powers that be as a news organisation capable of fielding a journalist on scene.

        I think that’s a reasonable compromise between enabling citizen journalism and preserving the integrity of the press pass concept.

        If The Register wanted to give me a press pass then, nothing could prevent it from doing so. I may not have a degree in journalism, but it may make sense for me to have one: I could be attending a conference, or simply stumble into a relevant situation in which I could gather information as a journalist/blogger/whatever-the-hell-I-am that would benefit El Reg. By the same token, if they felt I was a loose cannon nutjob, they should rightly withhold a press pass on the basis that my running around bearing a slip of paper with their name on it could degrade their reputation with companies/event organisers/etc.

        To summarise my beliefs:

        In order to be allowed to issue a press pass you should have to register centrally in the country in question as a news agency. This discourages every blogger in the universe issuing press passes to themselves.

        Event organisers/corporate PR departments should be allowed to discriminate against organisations based on internal criteria regardless of registered status. This encourages news organisations to be judicious to whom they hand out press passes.

        Governments/Police Forces/Militaries etc. should not be allowed to discriminate against organisations based on any criteria except registered status.

        I am very interested to hear why people agree/disagree with the views I have expressed above.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Big Brother

          Freedom, what's that?

          "in order to be allowed to issue a press pass you should have to register centrally in the country in question as a news agency."

          And if you don't be a nice boy, they'll revoke your pass, trivial as it takes about 10 seconds. You can bet it won't come back, ever.

          How much thought control you actually want?

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


            Please read the part where I said that I believed the passes should be non-revocable. The idea is to create a barrier to entry. You are required to shell out a non-trivial amount of money to become registered...but that registration is irrevocable. I would recommend that the registrations be renewed every five years, similarly to keep the signal-to-noise ratio down.

            The difference between a REGISTRY and a CERTIFICATION LIST is that a registry is simply "we are journalists and we are telling everyone so." A certification list is "we are applying to be journalists, please let us be so." That’s not thought control. It’s more like a tax. It ensures that only people willing to put up money (and thus be serious about being journalists instead of simply single-cause fly-by-night Internet griefers) will be able to be recognised as Journalists.

            In Canada, we could set this barrier around $500 for five years. A completely trivial amount for a news agency, as this wouldn’t be per PASS…but a registration number that allows the agency to issue as many of it’s own passes as it should choose. For a dedicated blogger/hobbiest…this might be a slightly painful amount, but not out of the question if they were committed to their hobby. (It would still be among the cheaper hobbies I know of.)

            $500 is however a lot of money for someone to pay in order to issue themselves a press pass to be considered a journalist for the sole reason of barging in on an event and causing trouble.

            If you are worried it keeps citizen journalists out...nothing would prevent a group of citizen journalists from banding together to form a sort of “freelancer blogger’s union.” That entity would be responsible for policing itself internally, but could apply for the $500 registration and issue press passes to all of it’s members. Whether or not that entity were taken seriously by anyone who wasn’t FORCED to take it seriously (because it is a registered entity allowed to issue press passes, the government and police would have to allow it’s journalists the same freedoms as any other news organisation) would depend on how judicious it was giving out those passes.

            An entity that was formed by troublemakers for the sole purpose of being able to get press passes to harass people would most likely still have to be allowed by police to take pictures/conduct interviews/etc. It would however be blackballed from EVERYWHERE ELSE by event organisers/companies/etc. Unless it was completely formed by sociopaths, that social pressure would force it to weed out the worst of it’s membership. Again, improving the signal-to-noise ratio of those who have press passes via an economic incentive.

            Understand I say the above as a die-hard socialist. I may disagree with capitalist methods most of the time, but in a true democracy, it believe the financial incentive here is the only way to increase the signal-to-noise ratio.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apps to the rescue

    In addition to those that send pics and vids on the fly to internet upload sites, a camera app should be written that immediately encrypts and makes pics and vids invisible on the data storage device until it connects to the user's computer with a password.

  50. John Savard Silver badge

    Section 19?

    In Canada, at least, the police do routinely confiscate cameras where they may have a record of a crime, to ensure that the images can be used as evidence, and that the evidence is not lost; and this is not even controversial. But then the police hadn't been doing the other things discussed on the Register as regards photographers.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm puzzled. In the past I have heard of cases where CCTV images were not admissable as evidence for such strange reasons as there were no signs warning that CCTV was in use. OK so I might have been misinformed, but if that's the case how could this video be admissable as evidence?

  52. jnewco81

    Eazy-E, Ice Cube, et-al

    Said it best.

  53. solarian
    Dead Vulture


    I'm somewhat disappointed El Reg hasn't been able to properly distinguish between this case and the others which concerned tourists and their ilk taking photos in public places.

    This is (part of) what Plod had to say about the matter:

    “The officer reasonably believed the tape contained evidence of a protester being assaulted by someone taking part in the march. It has been seized temporarily to ensure that evidence cannot be inadvertently lost or altered and will be returned, intact, to the owner as soon as possible. A 42-year-old man from Portslade was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm at the scene. He has been interviewed and released on bail until October while the investigation continues.”

    A previous commenter here mentioned another incident where someone apparently ran over a copper's foot on a scooter, which is also being investigated. The film *may* contain both scenes -- read the comments from Plod at the link provided in the article.

    Under the circumstances (as they have been presented) I really don't see what the problem is. Obviously the anti-fascist "journalist" in question, who admits he is "very well known" to the police, wouldn't have co-operated voluntarily, and this sounds like a passive-aggressive move on his part. After all, they hate the police on "principle". The notion that this was an abuse of police powers is absolutely laughable -- in my opinion the guy was probably concerned that it was one of his mates doing the (alleged) GBH and wanted to protect him. Why don't you follow this story up in due course, O El Reg?

  54. ShaggyDoggy



  55. Anonymous Coward

    TL:DR Ahead

    Look, Reg people, where IT's concerned you do a great job. And I know you're a red-top, and you want to entertain as much as you inform, and by and large you do that very well. But you do seem to have quite a problem with bias when it comes to your policing articles. First, your headline suggests this is something to do with "who can take photos of what", when it's clearly not.

    And then I saw this:

    "This is an interesting development legally and not one that has been heard of elsewhere in the police."

    An Anon has already quoted the sections of PACE referred to, there's no need for me to do it again. But it's right there, in black and white, and it's been there since, well, 1984 (cue Orwell references). But are you, Reg, seriously suggesting that no-one in the police has read or used these bits of the legislation since it was introduced *twenty-six years* ago?

    Now whether, as Wokstation suggests, the evidence could be secured by other means, I guess that's up to the officer to decide. Do you think that someone at an anti-fascist demonstration is likely to want to co-operate with some faceless uniformed drone of the State? Did the officer ask them to hand over the camera voluntarily? The blog doesn't say - it just says it was 'seized'. Probably it was, but so far it's half a story.

    It's worth noting the phrasing used on Marc Vallée's blog:

    "Early in the day police clashed with around 200 anti-fascist campaigners as around 40 far-right nationalist protesters congregated under heavy police protection. Police used dogs and horses to clear anti-fascist protesters blocking streets in Brighton to stop the far right march."

    Notice that the police only *clashed* with the anti-fascist protesters, while they were *protecting* the so-called 'nationalists'. And then they used "dogs and horses to clear ... protesters blocking the streets ... to stop the far right march".

    I infer from that that the police were taking the side of the nationalists. Hardly surprising, is it, when everyone knows the police are basically just legalised Nazis? Or is it that, whatever you think of their repulsive ideology, the far-right marchers *weren't doing anything wrong*? Or does the right to freedom of expression only apply to people we agree with? If the protesters were trying to block the streets, then they were preventing citizens (albeit pretty repugnant ones) from exercising a legal right of expression. That means they were going beyond their own Human Right to protest the march and interfering with other people's Human Rights.

    Or maybe that doesn't play into the nice scary idea that the police are massively corrupt and out to screw us over. Ben Rosenthal said: "...all the illegal stop and searches and beatings that we now get to hear about..."

    ...are frightening people very nicely indeed, thanks, Ben - and if there's one thing journalists seem to love, it's a terrified readership.

    The lawyer talks about how the police should respect 'journalistic material', but nowhere does it say why this 'cassette' constituted journalistic material. The police film to record wrongdoing and protect themselves from malicious allegations by the protesters, while the protesters film to record wrongdoing and protect themselves from malicious allegations by the police. To be honest, I'm constantly amazed that any fighting, or even protesting, ever gets done at demonstrations these days: the impression I get is that a demo is mainly just two ranks of lenses pointed at each other for twelve hours.

    Honestly, I absolutely and completely support journalists wishing to expose police misconduct when it occurs. And it DOES occur; no-one with any sense would argue otherwise. But would it be completely unreasonable to put aside the blanket prejudice and wait for evidence before we condemn every last citizen who chooses to put on a uniform and deal with the British at their very worst? After all, don't we constantly demand that we be treated as innocent until *proven* guilty?

    But I guess it's different when you have an axe to grind:

    "When did the cops stop acting like public servants and start acting like uniformed thugs countenanced by law?"

    "When Thatcher sent the Met to disrupt and attack the Miners..."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re axe to grind

      There was no axe to grind, I am not and never have been a miner or part of the mining community or any political party or organisation. I was working South Yorkshire both before and after the Mets arrival and saw what the Met did to the miners, I have also seen a systematic cover up of what the Met did to the striking miners. Police officers from my area, who are friends of mine and who were in South Yorkshire on strike duty, have confirmed that there was never any trouble with the miners until the Met arrived and that they were told not to go to area's where the Met were operating. Now it might not suit your political views to accept the truth but the Met were sent to disrupt the miners and there was a cover up of the Met's behaviour. Remember that this is the same force that killed Blair Peach but were unable to find out which officer hit him and has a long history of violence and corruption which continues to this day, ask Ian Tomlinson's widow.

      My question as always, which Police officer is more corrupt, the bent copper or the ordinary copper who covers up for the bent copper. Until ordinary Police officers start, en masse, accepting that they are working for the community and make real efforts to help weed out their colleagues that abuse their power, then the middle classes will continue to distrust the Police.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re axe to grind

        "There was no axe to grind, I am not and never have been a miner or part of the mining community or any political party or organisation. I was working South Yorkshire both before and after the Mets arrival and saw what the Met did to the miners,"

        So you judge Sussex police today for what the Met did then, and you don't think that counts as having an axe to grind?

        "Now it might not suit your political views to accept the truth but the Met were sent to disrupt the miners and there was a cover up of the Met's behaviour."

        Yet you say you have friends in your local force; so again the question is whether you're willing to judge an officer on his or her merits, or whether your assumption is that they're all bent until - somehow, somewhen - they can prove to your satisfaction that they're not.

        "My question as always, which Police officer is more corrupt, the bent copper or the ordinary copper who covers up for the bent copper."

        The same argument currently being used to try to inflame tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims: if the 'moderates' don't actively resist or condemn the terrorists then they're all basically terrorists.

        But you're right in the sense that every officer has a duty to report corruption when they encounter it. The question in this case is, was there any corruption to report; or was the officer acting lawfully? Does 'corruption' necessarily equate to 'something I don't want the police being allowed to do'? What if the controversy here, such as it is, is based more on the vested interests of those who, middle class or not, simply will not trust the police as a matter of passionate principle?

        Incidentally, I don't know what *you* imagine 'middle classes' to mean, but it means nothing to me. The term has no objective definition any more, since it is used by so many different people to mean so many different things. In that respect, it's no more use now than such worn-out, tattered terms as 'left wing', 'right wing' or 'liberal'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      That camera nor the pictures in it aren't ever coming back

      "After all, don't we constantly demand that we be treated as innocent until *proven* guilty?"

      Yes. What is the crime the photographer was proven to be guilty of?

      Oh, taking photographs. Of police officers. So the police went and seized his camera on a make-believe reason.

      Some of people here are naive enough to believe those, same sheeple who made the majority of German population during the 40s: "Government is good, we voted for them".

      Somehow I have feeling that that camera nor the pictures in it aren't ever coming back from police force. Thiefs usually don't return things they took and if a police even thinks there might be any evidence against him personally, he'll destroy it as soon as possible.

      Only evidence police nowadays is interested, is _evidence against them_.

      Just like any other criminal. Criminals are honest when breaking laws (ie. most admit that they are criminals, unofficially), police makes exceptions into laws so that whatever they do, it's legal. Even when it's the same thing that the so called criminals do: Stealing property, shooting people, kidnapping people, harassing people: All legal when police does those.

      And these guys get paid to do that and if they are really good, they can even get a raise for job well done. Ie. professionals. Do same things without police badge and you get 10 to life in prison. Very convinient, isn't it?

      If you are a person who likes to bully other people, you have three career choices: a criminal, a guard or a police. All of these give you an universal permit to do what ever you want, the latter ones legally.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The police have regularly used PACE for photographic fishing expeditions over the years - it was a particularly heated topic not long after it's introduction, to the point of some press photographers "offshoring" their negatives (to Holland IIRC) of certain demos that the police were trying to obtain pictures of. One guy was, I think, charged with obstruction.

    Problem is that if the police do this too often, photo journalists are simply seen as an extension of the police, resulting in snappers being targeted by demonstrators and losing the ability to do their jobs effectively. I had this pulled on me only once, in the early 90's. My editor asked me what I wanted to do, and responded to the police with a firm "no", which to my surprise was the last I heard of it. Had there been a specific incident, I might have considered the request, but they "thought" I had taken shots that included a group of "rowdy youths" at an event, and they wanted faces, presumably for intel.

    The situation now only differs in that the police really seem to have it in for photographers / journalists, and have given up entirely showing even the thinnest veneer of respect for what they do - not least, I suspect, because the police are so often on the wrong end of it, although usually with good reason. Harassing the messenger is clearly a lot more palatable to them than cleaning their act up.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    OK so I understand that PACE requires police to seize evidence ASAP in order that they can maintain and demonstrate a chain of custody and thus that the evidence has not been interfered with in any way. There have been cases where video evidence has been compromised because it has been edited before being handed to the police. That's all fine.

    I also understand that the police will have to keep the original film/tape/memory card/whatever in order to be able to demonstrate that chain of custody.


    The bit that puzzles me is that there is nothing in PACE that says the police can't or shouldn't take a copy of the evidence and pass that evidence back to the owner. So why couldn't the police take a copy of the tape and mail it to the owner the following day?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Playing to type

    This is the force whose CCTV vans are everywhere, with cheery little stickers on the side that say "Smile, you're on CCTV". I'm not sure why their Stazilitewagens are so urgently needed by the local beach, but they're a permanent presence.

  59. Lloyd

    Anyone remember ages ago

    The poll tax riots? The police took all footage from Trafalgar Square as "evidence", it took loads of court cases to get it back (about 10 years if memory serves), by the time it came back it was a long forgotten memory but the footage showed the police deliberately running people over and charging people doing nothing.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    They got this wrong again.....

    If you read S19 it only appies to an officer lawfully on premises,

    It does not apply to a public place, yet another abuse of authority???

  61. Maty

    Switch quick

    Back in the day when cameras used actual film I used to know a press photographer who carried two identical cameras. As soon as he had shot something that he knew would upset the feds, he switched to the other camera, and changed the film in the original asap.

    These days, popping out a memory card takes a matter of seconds. So if you have shot any pics of police misbehaviour, your very next act should be to take out the card, and if possible add another one.

    Even if they suspect that you've removed the film, the cops now have to justify a body search as well as a confiscation.

    1. david wilson


      >>"Even if they suspect that you've removed the film, the cops now have to justify a body search as well as a confiscation."

      So, if, in order to ask about your pictures in the first place, they've presumably already seen you pointing your camera in a given direction at the relevant time, and yet in your camera you have no card, or an empty card, do you think they'd find it hard to justify a search if they wanted the pictures they suspected you'd taken?

      If they thought you had pictures not merely of a crime, but of a crime by police, do you reckon they'd be likely to shy away from pretending to have seen you taking a card out of the camera, or to have appeared to be slipping something into a pocket, or whatever else it took to give sufficient cause for a search?

      You reckon you could easily bluff it out by saying you'd been pointing your camera at a scene of interest while something meaningful was obviously happening, but just hadn't thought it worth taking pictures of?

      Maybe you'd have the ability to pull that off, but a lot of people wouldn't.

      Back in the day when cameras used film, and pictures cost money to take on rolls of limited capacity, the excuse might have worked rather better than it does now.

      Also, back in the day, they couldn't easily see that the film they confiscated didn't have on it what they thought they were confiscating.

      In reality, in most places, for the average individual police officer, the number of times in an entire career that they're likely to be faced with even a possibility of making a confiscation in order to get hold of what they think is evidence against a fellow cop is likely to be very small, so the risks of bending the truth to do a search on a subset of such situations seem likely to be also pretty small.

      If someone was doing it on a weekly basis, *and* frequently not finding anything, it might be tricky to keep justifying it, but if they're only going to be doing it once every N years, the chances of any comeback are pretty much zero, especially as a 'successful' search would be fairly easy to justify with the benefit of hindsight

      "See, sarge, I *told* you I saw him switching memory cards".

      In the UK, roughly how many instances over the whole of the last decade are there of the police being supposedly filmed by private individuals doing something dodgy?

      For what fraction of those incidents did they confiscate any recordings?

      For what fraction of those confiscations was the confiscation non-voluntary?

      For what fraction of confiscations (voluntary or not) is material which is claimed to be known to have existed now alleged to have been lost?

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Have El Reg readers all got £1000s?

    You don't have to have an all dancing all singing digital camera to capture questionable images of public/police behaviour. A £30 camera can shoot just as incriminating evidence as your £5000+ super dooper DSLR.

    And the solution you lot turn to is technology for wireless uploading and other associated very expensive gimmickry? And for what? A potential abuse of police powers?

    There is only one solution, bring the police to order.

  63. Keith Doyle

    A solution for that...

    Just make sure you can make a dupe right on the spot. You can give the cops the original, just make sure you have one too. Perhaps they'll start making cameras with dual media that will automatically record everything twice-- and charge a lot extra for that feature...

    1. david wilson

      @Keith Doyle

      >>"Perhaps they'll start making cameras with dual media that will automatically record everything twice-- and charge a lot extra for that feature..."

      Given the tiny size of the likely market, why wouldn't they charge extra for it?

      I can't imagine many people basing their buying decisions on the chances of possibly ending up in a picture-handing-over scenario happening in the lifetime of a given camera.

      In any case, if police do open a camera and see two cards in, unless they're intimately familiar with that particular model, wouldn't they likely take /both/ cards?

      Likewise, even if they're /told/ they're being given a proper duplicate that you make in front of them, how can they easily be sure that's true, unless they spend time looking through both cards.

  64. This post has been deleted by its author

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome ,yet again, to the....

    Labour Govt Police State that they built in 13 years and Tories have not yet undone. IF the Police's interpretation of "premises" as stated in the Act is correct then I will eat my computer. I think that the Act makes it clear that they should be on "Premises" and I do not think that means a public space. So they think that if someone takes a photo of PC SMELLY (as we know he is the smelly officer who assaulted the female at G20) assaulting someone they can take that camera and delete the evidence .Perhaps there might be a case for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    1. david wilson

      @Rose tinted AC @09:41

      Sure, it's /all/ Labour's fault.

      As any fule kno, until 1997, all policemen walked or cycled everywhere, jolliness was mandatory, and the police training regime was watching/listening to every episode of 'Dixon of Dock Green'

      Of course, none of the current senior officers were even /alive/ in 1997, so they can't be expected to know any better.

      >>"I think that the Act makes it clear that they should be on "Premises" and I do not think that means a public space."

      But if they don't have the right under that particular clause of that particular act, particularly in the case of a relatively serious crime, if the person they asked to provide pictures was at all hostile to the idea of providing information, I guess they'd just end up arguing that they thought there was a real prospect of the evidence being destroyed, and hence a crime being committed.

      Alternatively, if they really couldn't current legally get hold of photographs by any means, most of the time people would be likely to hand things over voluntarily on request, but the first time there was a significant crime where someone didn't, assuming the person involved wasn't a journalist, the usual media outlets would have a 'something must be done' frenzy and the law would be swiftly amended, probably with something in there to keep journalists happy.

      Or, at least, to keep /professional/ journalists happy.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What's the cctvs are for, eh?

    "My point still stands though - you need powers like this for those occasions where someone is being obstinate about turning over something they need as evidence."

    No you don't. There's cctvs everywhere, let the police use them as they are there for that, aren't they? Execpt that conviniently in this case cctcv were off, too bad for police.

    Only evidence police is really interested in is _they themselves_ doing crimes and this law is obviously made for confiscating evidence of that legal. Nothing else.

    Anybody else they can _ask_ to provide copies, like witness statements: You are not obliged to give one and there's no reason why you should be. Same applies to evidence, any evidence.

    1. david wilson

      @Anonymous Genius 09:47

      >>"Only evidence police is really interested in is _they themselves_ doing crimes and this law is obviously made for confiscating evidence of that legal. Nothing else."

      And you know that based on what, apart from your infallible gut reaction?

      If you actually read the article this thread is attached to, you might see: "The officer reasonably believed the tape contained evidence of a protester being assaulted by someone taking part in the march"

      and then subsequent comments in the thread about a police officer allegedly having their foot run over by a mobility vehicle.

      Still, I guess they weren't /really/ interested in collecting the evidence, just in annoying someone with a camera.

      The police are like that.

      They never really collect any evidence except when trying to cover up their own crimes, which is why there are hardly any people convicted of anything, and our prisons are so empty.

      >>"Anybody else they can _ask_ to provide copies, like witness statements: You are not obliged to give one and there's no reason why you should be. Same applies to evidence, any evidence."

      At least for anyone who actually bothers to think about it before making sweeping statements, there are perfectly sensible reasons to treat witness statements and other evidence quite differently.

      Once physical evidence has been collected, it can't really be retracted or modified by the source the way that statements could be, whether as a result of a change of heart, intimidation, etc.

      Being a source of physical evidence, unless you've clearly gone out of your way to provide it, isn't likely to attract anywhere near as much hostility from the average suspect or their associates as being a witness, not least because doing anything to the source is unlikely to make the evidence go away.


      There may be various views about what does (or should) constitute a justified search, but the blindingly obvious fact is that an individual doesn't have an absolute right to prevent the police gaining access to physical evidence in pretty much any legal system in the world, and arguing that such a right /should/ exist seems pretty much to rule someone out of any likely debate, not least because once they've made their absolute claim, they don't really have anything else left to say.

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