Police Bullying Victim

15 Year Old Photographer

Jules Mattsson

Surely you remember the previous story about Romford Police who continually made up laws to try and stop Jules Mattsson, 15, from photographing cadets and Police at the Armed Forces Parade. I’m glad to report that Jules has allowed me to publish his portrait. I think it’s extremely important to put a face to the story. Here is the youngster Police harassed; why? Purely because he was taking pictures.

On Saturday 26 June, photojournalist Jules Mattsson (pictured), who is 15 years old, was photographing the Armed Forces Day parade in Romford. He was questioned and detained by a police officer after taking a photo of young cadets. He was bullied by several officers who continuously made up laws to try and make him stop and at one stage pushed him down some stairs. June 29, 2010. © Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Initial reports reported Jules as 16, but he is in fact 15.

19 responses to “Police Bullying Victim

  1. I don’t know why everyone is referring to this as a case of bullying. From what I’ve read of Jules account, and heard on his YouTube post, it sounds like a case of assault.

  2. Pretty shocking behaviour, really. Reassuring to see that even the police on their forums have been harshly criticising the officers who did this, although mildly worrying that some of the policemen posting seemed to think they had a right as to who took their photo!

    Let’s just hope that some good may come from this poor fella’s hassle, and that the message might get out to a few more front-line officers about what the law actually is. Good on him for standing up for his rights … conviction like that should take him a long way in life.

    • It really is assuring to hear that most of the Police officers on the forum are criticising the ridiculous behaviour of the Romford officers involved; as you say though, it’s astonishing how ill informed the smaller number on that forum are. Hopefully this episode and Julian’s ordeal will go some way to better education and understanding of the law and the rights of the public (us journalists included) and the rights the Police have.

  3. Thank you for putting a face on this side of the story.

    One statement made by an officer who was objecting to having his picture taken stands out. It happens at 6:45 in the video:

    “I’ve asked you politely to not take my picture; it will stop me from doing covert operations in the future.”

    Regardless of that statement’s relevance to Jules’ right to take that picture, for the sake of the good people of Romford I hope that this officer is never assigned to covert operations. Clearly he does not understand the law and its limits. Without a firm grasp on that concept, he would pose a serious risk to the legitimacy of any covert operation in which he were to participate.

    • That’s a very valid point. It’s really uplifting to read the Police Specials forum and see just how many officers are appalled by the behaviour of these folks involved in this incident.

  4. Hi,

    There are no laws which prevent you from taking photos in a public place. If the officers were making up false ways and laws to bully you, then this is unacceptable. Have you made an official complaint? I would encourage it as you are 15 years of age make sure you are accompanied by your parents. I am a keen photographer and this happened to someone I know and a police complaint was made.

  5. This so called terrorist 44 law is bull crap. 9/11 and 7/7 were planed by governments there is more than enough evidence out there to prove this. Why the governments carried out these terrorist attacks was so they could brainwash the public to think it needed new laws were needed. All its designed to do is take away more of our rights until we become a police state.

  6. Rather conveniently, Master Mattsson’s video begins after the incident for which police intervened. He initiated this reaction by holding his camera very closely to the faces of the cadets who were formally lined up. Unsure of his intentions, police quite rightly removed him from the situation. Mattsson should have been arrested under the public order act. Causing harassment/alarm/distress… I wonder if Master Mattsson would react with such dignity should he be approached in a similar manner. Screaming for police, I imagine.

    • I wasn’t there so can’t comment directly, however, someone will only be able to start recording a conversation (it’s audio and not video as you suggest) once it gets started and in this case get’s nasty.
      It is not illegal to photograph in public; the laws of our country say this; it also legal to photograph everybody and more so it is legal to photograph from close-up. There are no laws to say otherwise.
      Those who are entrusted to keep the law should not make up their own and abuse the laws that currently stand.
      I have every respect for the Police and have friends who are serving officers, some at quite high rank. Nobody is pleased with this sort of Policing and I for one congratulate Jules for recording it so that steps can be taken to better educate the officers involved as they clearly do not know their rights, nor parts of the law (as demonstrated by their behaviour and words). This is only a good thing for society as a whole.

  7. This myth that I was somehow in peoples faces keeps cropping up people who claimed to be there, in fact i’d barely taken a few images before I was stopped and said images are in the video, so you can be the judge of that yourself from the first few images of whether I was, in fact, in anyone’s face.

  8. And ‘tone’, having your photograph taken while participating in a massive public event is hardly abnormal, and neither is having it done close up for that matter. I hadn’t gotten close to any of the participants as they were in a squad and I didn’t want to disrupt them, however if they were just standing in a crowd and the circumstances and feel was right then I wouldn’t have hesitated to get a few close up shots. Furthermore, “Screaming for police, I imagine.” ha, hardly, In fact my reaction would be to absolutely sweet fa, because I don’t care, the person has a photo of me, good for them, I hope they got my good side. The only thing I might to would be to remark on the lens they’re using 😉

  9. I’m sorry to bring this subject up again, but I’m fed up with stumbling across web sites blindly supporting this photographer without questioning his behaviour at all.

    The person in the photo above (JM) was asked by an adult guardian of a group of minors to stop taking their photo. This may be considered to be an over reaction but it was a request and should have at least been considered in some way. JM blindly refused to change his behaviour in any way whatsoever and was verbally aggressive throughout the whole episode.

    The police got involved and JM was verbally aggressive towards the police.

    I am in no way condoning the behaviour of the police, what the police then did was wrong, but JM’s behaviour was like poking a dog with a stick and then complaining when the dog bit back.

    This is a case of six of one and half dozen of the other. but as a photographer (strictly amateur) I am just as concerned about the behaviour of this photographer.

    there were many options open to the photographer when the adult cadet asked him to stop photographing the children. A little bit of charm, for instance, can go a very long way. Create familiarity by introducing yourself and asking what is acceptable to the complainant. Humour them. More often than not creating a bit of familiarity will relax people and they won’t mind you snapping away. This type of photography is not spontaneous street photography and it’s not a demonstration/riot or civil unrest in some way, therefore talking to your subjects will not adversly disturb the photography.

    The audio tape provided by JM is heavily edited and even with the editing the police can clearly be heard offering an alternative place from where the photographer could continue to take photos. The photographer point blank refused to accept the compromise and gave no reason to the police as to why the location offered by the police was unnacceptable.

    Just because an action or actions is legal does not make it right. The resultant behaviour exhibited by JM was arrogant, ignorant (of peoples feelings), un-professional and impolite. Not to mention overly aggressive.

    Just as we love to hate the police because a tiny few make stupid mistakes, so some police will love to hate photographers because of the over-aggressiveness of poeple like JM. Please JM don’t listen to the fist waving police haters that poison the forums and blogs, do yourself a favour and re adjust your behaviour when next confronted by a stroppy member of the public, or police officer. It may even save you from being thumped, or worse. Take the advice of experienced street photographers and remain ‘invisible’ at all times. If you become the news you have done something wrong.

    Also, this was not a stop and search under S44 as misrepresented in the press. Only after a tortuous argument was S44 quoted. And the photographer wasn’t being moved on.

    Incorrect Stop and search under S44 concerning photographers is a very serious issue and involves officers deciding to s&s a photographer before talking to them purely because they are photographing. This is wrong, totally wrong, but very different from what happened to JM. Please don’t get the two mixed up. One is completely out of the control of the photographer, therefore very serious and wrong, JM’s situation was avoidable and he could have carried on photographing the cadets if he had communicated more positively and intelligently with both the cadets and the police.

    thankyou and goodbye


    • Harry, thanks for writing in. I wasn’t there so won’t get involved in the ‘nitty gritty’. My support isn’t blind as I have seen the pictures, heard the audio and spoken with Jules.
      We live in a country were we are free to take photographs in public areas. There was no cordon and Jules was certainly in no one’s property. For cadets or their leaders to turn up to Armed Forces day and then refuse to aid in it’s publicity by creating an issue about being photographed is slightly strange.

      I myself am a news photographer who has worked in London for almost 21 years now. In my experience, the Police don’t often have the visual understanding (and nor should they as they are not photographers or artists of any sort) to offer the best vantage points. Nor is it their right to stop a photographer from making images. One thing which is clear from the Police’s actions is that they were well and truly out of order in their behaviour towards young Jules.
      I do completely agree that having conversations is a great and important thing, but alas as the years go on, having a conversation with some Police officers turns out to be pointless – I am finding more and more of them itching for a fight and being aggressive and acting like bullies for absolutely no reason. The sad thing is that Police officer friends agree with this; it’s a shame as I have and always have had the utmost respect for the Police forces across our country.

      As fas as S44, if it wasn’t for photographers and their organisations like the BPPA and NUJ making a fuss and raising it’s profile, we’d probably still get harassed by it’s illegal use.

  10. Just got major harassment by the police for looking or behaving suspiciously at the students demonstration london whitehall this p.m. 30/11/2010. How does one define suspicious about a man carrying a big camera with massive lens wearing a big massive oversize colorful red t shirt. So scary being a photographer in these times.

  11. Good discussion that needs exposure, good to see a face to the story and congratulations to Jules Mattsson for standing up for his rights.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.