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South Shields premier political blog

Posts Tagged ‘Police

Sir Paul Stephenson

with one comment

Met. Chief defends photographers

Via BBC News

“We need to recognise that London is an iconic city and people come here to photograph this city and they should be allowed to do it without interference unless there is very, very good reason to suspect somebody doing something wrong,” he said.

“Occasionally, some police officers might get it wrong, PCSOs [Police Community Support Officers] might get it wrong, it’s my job to ensure we get that right balance.”

This is not the first time that someone from the Metropolitan Police have made the point that photography in public places is neither illegal or likely to be a sign of an impending terrorist attack, but when is the message going to filter through to all of the other forces in the UK?

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Written by curly

December 16, 2009 at 10:09 am

Wasting police time.

with 2 comments

policemenThere are actually good coppers out there.

I was delighted to read this morning that police forces in Surrey, Staffordshire, Leicestershire and West Midlands forces in returning to what they call “commonsense policing”. After spending months and years reading of the bureaucratic nonsense, paperwork, deskjobs, targets, box ticking, and time wasting forced upon ordinary coppers at the Policeman’s Blog, Copperfield and others will be relieved to see these initiatives being put in place by Mark Rowley, acting chief constable of Surrey.

I have often wrote in this journal of my beliefs in good community neighbourhood policing and the desire to see police and community connecting together, engaging in realistic dialogue with a shared spirit of cooperation. It’s old fashioned, I know, but it puts a uniformed presence on our streets and gets officers out of stations and into neighbourhoods where they belong. It’s what they do best and what we want most.

Mr. Rowley makes an astute judgement over chasing needless targets just to satisfy the Home Office;

“Do we really want every teenager who does something stupid to get a criminal record? We know we are going back on the direction the Police Service has been going in for many years but we are restoring common sense and discretion. This is not about being soft on crime; it’s about giving our officers discretion. Where a minor incident is the tip of the iceberg, then it will be dealt with through the full weight of the law. But in many situations the right response might be to tell people who have got out of bed on the wrong side to calm down or to grow up and behave themselves.”

And in this vein of commonsense policing I came across this excellent example of connecting with vulnerable people in society via The Police Inspector’s blog, Gadget has indeed unearthed a gem of a piece. The author is a young woman experiencing severe mental illness and coming to terms with the rebuilding and reshaping of her life. She writes with an honesty and candour about her dealings with her local police force after contemplating suicide from the dizzy heights of a motorway bridge, illustrating how the common touch of some police officers is still greatly appreciated. Call me old fashioned, but she now sees the policeman as her friend. Go on, get over there and give her a visit and read her story.

It’s what good coppering is all about, and it’s gradually making a comeback in South Tyneside, we have some good neighbourhood police units, we just need to encourage ourselves to be more open to them, get to know them, and confide in them. This type of two way conversation is a culture which needs to be nurtured and will help keep our communities safer. We do actually have some good dedicated coppers out there you know, and they don’t like having their time wasted chasing daft targets set during the Blair years.

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Written by curly

May 31, 2008 at 10:17 am

Posted in Blogging, Crime, Culture, Health, South Tyneside

Tagged with ,


with one comment

That’s it, I’ve probably acted illegally now!

We have some absolute retards in some of our police forces who seem to have no concept of civil liberties, peaceful protests, or freedom of speech and expression.

For the simple act of holding a placard describing Scientology as a cult a 15 year old boy now faces prosecution under section five of the Public Order Act. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.

Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, said:

“This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions.

“After criminalising the use of the word ‘cult’, perhaps the next step is to ban the words ‘war’ and ‘tax’ from peaceful demonstrations?”

I sincerely hope that the CPS sees some sense in this case! (Of course it doesn’t help that the police force in question had accepted many gifts in the past from Scientology cult, sect, church.)

Hat Tip – Rossinisbird

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Written by curly

May 22, 2008 at 9:50 am

Posted in Blogging, Crime, Freedom, Law, liberty, News, Rant

Tagged with , , ,

Police in court over pictures

with 2 comments

Legality of surveillance challenged.

This could be an interesting case, one could argue that if the rest of us have a right to take pictures in and from public places without breaching anyone’s privacy, then the police must surely have the same right too. So long as they understand how close they can get to causing harassment, alarm, or distress, and breaching privacy by repeated photography.

The two-day judicial review is likely to determine the legality of surveillance and whether ‘routine’ intelligence gathering is permissible under the Human Rights Act.

Police claim that routine intelligence gathering plays a key role in deterring crime. However, the case comes amid concern that Britain is heading towards a ‘police state’, with the government’s information commissioner warning that fears the UK would ‘sleepwalk into a surveillance society’ have become a reality.

I noticed yesterday that a number of people were being “routinely photographed” by police “sharp shooters” as they made their way to the Sunderland vs Middlesbrough game, admittedly some of them were members of large groups but they did not appear to be doing anything illegal or acting in a disorderly fashion. However, the police were deliberately following them and making a point of repeatedly photographing them and recording them on video cameras too. Now if you or I were to do this with a camera it could easily be claimed to be harassment and an invasion of privacy – once is OK, repeating the action is not (especially at close quarters!).

Andrew Wood, from Oxford campaigns against the arms trade, and claims his human rights were infringed when he was photographed and his images were kept on a police computer despite no arrests being made, at a meeting he attended as a shareholder.

It will be interesting and instructive to see what the High Court decides, particularly as privacy is not treated as a strong point in British law when we are out in public.

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Written by curly

April 27, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Crime, Law, News, privacy

Tagged with , , ,

Sex pictures shock!

with 149 comments

Fairground, South ShieldsCurly taken for a ride

Did I mention something about being taken for ride in my last post?

Well I was, but I never imagined that a trip to the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields would result in a ride in the back of a police car, being questioned about taking pictures of a sexual nature (and we are not talking of someone of Britney Spears age either!)

Have I ever mentioned CCTV cameras in the past?

Yes on numerous occasions.

Have I ever stated that we are becoming a nation of suspects in the past?

Yes, on numerous occasions.

Have I ever voiced the fear that we may quietly lurch towards a police state in the past?

Yes, on numerous occasions.

So let me start at the beginning – I parked my car at the Littlehaven Hotel, South Shields, this afternoon and walked across the beach with two intentions in mind (a) recording the extent of the damage to the sea wall on Harbour Drive for a post in this blog tomorrow, and (b) taking some pictures in the fairground for use in South Shields Daily Photo, as an illustration of the sort of things that South Shields folks get up to on an Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Please bear in mind that presenting a site such as this requires a lot of photographs with regular fresh input, nothing is worse than repetition.

I was well wrapped up, as usual, wearing my normal photographic kit which has many large deep pockets suited for carrying lens, spare batteries, flash gun etc. I also had my normal heavy bag with me just in case I decided to use any other filters or a third lens. I spent some time at both locations but at one stage had to take shelter in the waltzer as hailstones beat down, stinging the face and battering against the camera. Whilst under shelter I continued to shoot scenes (I found it fascinating that people still wanted to wander around the park and have fun, despite the atrocious weather.)

After an hour and a half I made my way back to the car satisfied that I have gained enough new material over the past couple of days to keep the site running for the next week or so. I drove through another hailstorm towards the South Marine Park and then along Ocean Road to check the size of the queue at Colmans, from there I proceeded towards Anderson Street and see a police car coming towards me from the direction of the Town Hall, blue lights flashing, siren wailing, in an obvious hurry to get somewhere. It did a U turn and came up behind me, by now I had slowed to a stop along with a couple of other cars, as we all assumed the police car wanted to get past. It appeared that he didn’t, perhaps he wanted to turn left just in front of the Voyager, so we all moved off again to give him room. But no, he’s still behind me, now flashing his headlights too, good God, he wants me!

My mind runs around thinking of things like tax disc, lights, body damage, and satisfied myself that all was in order, so I turned into Beach Road, parked up and approached the police officer. He wants me to go back to my car switch everything off, lock it and get into the back of the police car!

Crikey, what the hell do they think I’ve been up to? If, like me, you have never been in this situation in your life before perhaps you can imagine the slightly panicked state of mind.

“You wish to speak to me?”

“Yes sir, if you don’t mind stepping into the rear of my car”

“Is there something wrong with my car or my driving?”

“No, no sir, nothing like that at all, we are responding to an emergency call from someone in The Sundial who has reported you as taking pictures of children in the play park”

“Play park? I haven’t been near any play park! I’ve been on the beach and in the fairground, and I’ve never been anywhere near The Sundial either, surely you must have the wrong person?”

“Sorry sir, but we tracked you on the CCTV cameras, got your registration number and that’s why I need to talk to you, you are exactly as described”

After confirming name and address, date of birth, electoral roll, and telephone number, I offered to get my camera and show the officer all of the pictures that I’d taken this afternoon (click the thumbnail above, for an example).

“Dodgem cars, fairground rides, beach, is that all sir?

“Yes, help yourself, view them all”

Whilst he was viewing, I gave him one of my cards confirming that I have an occasional monetary interest in taking photographs, and whilst he was getting interested, news came through on his radio that I was a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator and had reported a number of crimes and leads in my area (not that it’s the most crime ridden street in South Shields) and it became clear that an innocent individual had been lifted off the street at the behest of some illiberal busy body who thinks the man with a camera is obviously a dangerous paedophile.

“I’m sorry sir, this is obviously a terrible misunderstanding, but I suppose you realise that we get more and more of these calls every week these days. I was looking at a bloke’s camera recently, and I can tell you the pictures weren’t the sort that you have taken”

“What I cannot understand is, you said someone in The Sundial rang 999 and reported me, I haven’t been anywhere near The Sundial, I haven’t been anywhere near the park, you said I was tracked by the CCTV cameras, so you should have known that I’d been in the fairground!”

“So sorry sir, we have to follow these calls, and may I thank you for being so co-operative. Have a good day sir”

Have good day sir, hmph! Well to be fair he was extremely courteous and easy to deal with, but it has left a bad taste in the mouth I can tell you. Any idea how many people I saw taking pictures in the fairground with their nice shiny digital cameras today? Any idea how many Motorola V8 type camera phones I’ve seen pointed at smiling faces in the fairground today?

Yes – many!

Thing is, if you are wearing a shell suit, baseball cap, and rockies, you don’t look the least suspicious in this day and age, but if you have a digital SLR with a large zoom lens you really have it for a nasty purpose in mind! Yes, we are becoming a nation of suspects, we are also becoming a nation of ninnies and nincompoops wrapped in the cotton wool of the nanny state, too bothered with our own little suspicions and personal foibles to be able to talk to the bloke with the camera, why worry they’ll see him on the CCTV cameras surely?

I write now, with the person who dialled 999 in mind. (If he/she ever gets round to reading this.)
Do you know, if you had came up to me and asked “what the hell I was doing?” You might have found out that, on the whole I’m a pretty straight kinda guy (as some former Prime Minister professed) , you might have discovered that I am actually personable (when I’m not ranting), you might have found out about some interesting websites that portray South Shields to the world, you might have found out that I’m a family guy too with a wife and two lovely children, you might have had a rewarding experience.

You know, it’s what we used to call “being neighbourly.”

Instead you have demonstrated a typical and ignorant knee jerk reaction, taken not a blind bit of notice of all the other cameras being used around you, without realising that under British law there is virtually no such thing as privacy in a public place, and wasted a considerable amount of police time and mine into the bargain. Have a nice day!

Right that’s got that off of my chest!

If you would like to see more of the pictures that I took this afternoon check back with this blog tomorrow, or South Shields Daily Photo any time after midnight.

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Written by curly

March 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm