The relationship between photographers and other camera ops, as well as journalists, has been strained in the past. But yesterday a concerning incident with Hertfordshire Police in the UK has just turned the notch to 11, and we should all be taking an interest.
Stories of confrontations between photographers and other media people and the police is nothing new. We've all heard at least a couple of stories of photographers and journalists being harassed by police officers. However, the recent Just Stop Oil protests in the UK appears to have brought about a new level of police over reach.
An incident yesterday, involving journalist and documentary maker, Rich Felgate, appears to show police not only interrupting perfectly legitimate and legal filming of the protests from public property, but the immediate handcuffing of press photographer, Tom Bowles, without any reasonable grounds.
Footage of the incident shows Bowles and his colleague pleading with police to tell them why they are being arrested, as well as asking them to let them show their press credentials. Their requests went unheeded, and the two spent 13 hours in custody along with lengthy sessions of questioning. Bowles house was apparently also searched by police, and his daughter's iPad confiscated.
I needn't have to spell out the risks of such behaviour by police being allowed to continue, because this could have repercussions for every one of us, from journalists and documentary makers to indy filmmakers simply going about their legitimate business.
Felgate went on to state that he was aware of at least seven other arrests of journalists during the protests and he has himself been arrested once previously while covering the events.
The police do have a difficult job to do, but this was very clearly not legitimate policing in any way, and it needs to be called out in the strongest terms possible. As people working in the media it is in all our interests that this is no longer allowed to continue. Neither photography or journalism is a crime.
Update: LBC reporter, Charlotte Lynch, has also been arrested, and has been commenting on her experience.