Shortly after filming, our video journalist was detained by TSG police and stopped and searched, supposedly under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Section 1.
Despite being shown an accredited NUJ Press Card, Constable Arscott, under instruction from Sergeant Gary Brown, carried on with the detention and search on the grounds that the journalist was “with” people whom he suspected were going to commit criminal damage.
The UK Press Card Authority issues accreditation which the National Police Chief’s Council recognises as evidence that the holder is a bona fide newsgatherer. The cards have a holographic logo to prevent forgery, plus they have a hotline telephone number for the Press Card Authority to instantly verify.
Constable Arscott refused to verify prior to a search, saying it wasn’t ‘practical’ to do so.
During the search, which was purportedly for articles to commit criminal damage, he tried to look through the journalist’s wallet for further ID, even though the press card has a name and NUJ number.
Obviously nothing was found during the search and after more than six minutes during which time the journalist could not film other police searches going on, he was released from detention.
Shortly after, he filmed a woman who was also being detained and searched. She claimed the grounds for her search were that she’d been seen speaking to the journalist. Constable Jarrett, who was conducting the search, refused to confirm this, but the search record states it clearly.
As our journalist says in the film, if police are stopping and searching people on the grounds that they are seen speaking with a journalist, then it makes the job of that journalist very difficult, if not impossible.
Another NUJ photographer was threatened with arrest outside the Treasury unless he left the area, on the basis that he “didn’t have a trading licence to operate in a Royal Park”, even though he was photographing red paint sprayed on the Treasury – nothing related to St James’ Park, and clearly of public interest.
Two other camera operators were actually arrested outside the Treasury after filming the action there.
We’ve seen livestreamers and other photo or video folk arrested at actions in the past, and this is already of concern because it interferes with the right to document and record protest in the UK. Police now appear to be targeting and impeding the work of accredited press as well as more casual filmers, at a time where the government is attacking our freedoms in multiple ways.
True journalism holds the rich and powerful to account. We must not let them stop us doing that.