Category Archives: section 44

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.

Congratulations to Romford Police

Police Bully 15 Year Old Photographer With Fake Laws

No doubt you’ve all seen and heard the audio recordings of 15 year old photographer Jules Mattsson being harassed by the Police. What was the young photographer doing? He was photographing Police Cadets (probably older than him) at the Armed Forces Day Parade; a day during which we are supposed to support the brave men and women of the armed forces. As a photojournalist in the making, Jules decided to photograph the event. The Police decided that this was illegal and continued to make up laws to stop the young photographer working and as a result publicising the event. Please have a listen to the the recording which Jules had the foresight to make during his ordeal:

Tonight I was invited to speak at the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch. During my talk, as I looked through the crowd, I saw a young face. Someone who didn’t belong as he was far too young; I’d even go as far as saying almost child like – it was Jules Mattson. I was already upset by what I had heard but to see who Jules is, absolutely made me disgusted in the behaviour of the Police officers involved in bullying him. They should all be ashamed and I for one hope they will be disciplined for their cowardice. I have several friends in various Police forces around the country and I absolutely respect the job that is done; any officer who has come in contact with me will vouch for this. However, this bullying of a 16 year old boy is absolutely disgraceful.

I took a photograph of Jules today; he asked me not to publish it as he does not want the Police to target him. What a sad state of affairs; I do hope the officers in question read this.

Further Reading

Young photojournalist detained for army cadet pics (BJP)

Officers claim they don’t need law to stop photographer taking pictures (The Independent)

Read Police officers talking about the incident on the Police Specials forum; makes very interesting reading.

Cops & Togs

Gaza demo, London. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

No doubt you’ve all heard of the Police’s “War on Photography”; not so much Axis of Evil, but f-numbers and shutter speeds. I have to say, that its becoming ridiculous. Photographers, professional and enthusiast, are being constantly bullied and their rights completely eroded by the Police’s misuse of Section 44. For those not in the know, this act is all about Terrorism and not photography.

Someone I know through Twitter even commented that all of this is making him stop coming to London to take pictures! Its an absolute disgrace, and all the Police officers who are guilty of misusing this power, be it the officer on the street or those sat behind desks and throwing down these orders should be ashamed. How disappointing that in this free country that we think so much of, the act of wanting to photograph something in public is being used as a reason to hassle law abiding people; be they news gatherers or people being creative. We are supposed to have freedoms in this country and I beg all officers around the country to take a step back and see the situation they have created. I wonder how the tourist trade might suffer if visitors to our shores realise they’re not allowed to take photographs outdoors?!

Now I fully understand that our country is under the threat of terrorism and I myself was on the front line in Edgware Road tube station after the bombing there. I applaud our intelligence services and the Police for all the successful operations they have carried out and for cleaning the streets of extremists who do not believe in our freedoms (the Police don’t seem to believe in these either). However, I would assume that a person involved in gathering intel would probably just log onto Google’s Street View (why doesn’t anyone shut this down? I’m guessing Google’s lawyers would be a match for anybody where as individual photographers are easy targets) from the comfort of their home. Or, I would assume that they would use small cameras and blend in with the thousands of tourists around town. Maybe they would even use spy type cameras in their ties, hand bags or hats?! Would they really used big DSRLs, sometimes on Tripods? Seriously? Is this what the intelligence tells us?

Being frisked by a security guard at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Stuart Emmerson

I’ve been a professional news photographer for over 20 years now, and it saddens me to see how much things have changed. Although relations with the Police haven’t always been brilliant, they have been miles better than this. We spend so much time stood at the same cordons that its ridiculous not to become friendly! There is no need for hostility, misinformation or game playing. There is room for respect for each other, honesty and humanity.

I remember in the early 1990s going to a light airplane crash (which unfortunately was fatal for the pilot) in an address in Harrow, Middlesex. The light plane had crash landed into the wooded garden of a mansion in the area. It was one of those rare occasions when I was suited and booted, and naturally the woodland was thick and the rain heavy and constant. After a few officers played their games and sent me on wild goose chases, I finally came across an officer who showed me where it was. He took one look at me and said that I couldn’t really get through the woodland with all my gear whilst wearing leather soled shoes. To my disbelief, he took my huge Billingham bag off my shoulder, My Canon F1n and 300mm f2.8 off the other shoulder and led the way! It was a long trek. He was kind enough to take me to the inner cordon and naturally asked me not to go inside – which is totally understandable. To this day I regret not making a note of his name and praising him to his superiors. Polite and helpful; a real gentleman.

In contrast, I was covering the Palestinian demos at the Israeli Embassy in London at the beginning of the year. As the night drew on, the Police started to kick out protesters, arresting those that they had special interest in. However, press or no press, we were thrown out of this area too. Not so much of a problem, but the TSG officer escorting me to a safe distance walked next to me, with a gentle hand on my arm. Once we got there (I need to point out that I was naturally doing as asked) the officer just drove both his arms into my chest and pushed me! Why he did this, I’m not sure. I think he was perhaps aggravated that I was doing as told. Again, I wish I’d taken a note of his number. Pointless!

* ‘Togs’ is a common shortening for ‘photographers’ *