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Abusive British police officer seizes camera in public, states images must be deleted

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Published on Nov 20, 2013

To clarify: I had no idea at the time of seriousness of the event. I never took any pictures of anything "insensitive", those involved had already gone, there was no one injured on the scene, no ambulances, nothing. There were just a few police cars, and a car being towed by the tow truck. As such, when I arrived I didn't know what had happened, but seeing only a car being towed away I thought it was very minor, a fender bender perhaps due to the new road layout, tragically, it was more serious. I would have never of taken pictures of injured people and published them.

It was not a closed off area, I did not go past any police tape, neither did the other civilians, people were freely walking past, as can be seen from the still photos and video. It was later confirmed to me by an officer from Professional Standards that I wasn't in the crime scene.

Other civilians got much closer to the officers than me. I respect that the police have a job to do, so I purposely kept out of their way, and did not approach them. The officer in question did not tell me to stop filming prior to his outburst. Ultimately, he didn't want the licence plate from be published for a few hours, this is completely understandable, but all he had to do was say that, there was no need for what he did.

The officer:
1) Seized my camera as evidence (for a crime I didn't commit) under PACE - This is an illegal seizure because journalistic material is excluded from seizure [PACE, sections 8, 9, 11 & 13] the police would have to go before a court to seize my camera.
2) Got about 5cm from my face and began shouting at me, he was so close that he was spitting on me, I had to step back and wipe my face on multiple occasions. Every step back on mine was met with a step forward by him.
3) Swore at me multiple times, calling me a "fucking asshole".
4) Stated I was going to be arrested for "obstruction of a police officer" because I was apparently on a crime scene, me alone, none of the other pedestrians around me.
5) Stated "You're lucky I didn't knock you out to be fair."
6) Stated I had to delete the images from my camera, once again, this is illegal, it requires a court order to do this.

Incident took place in Gloucester, U.K on the 19th November 2013.

The incident is currently being investigated by the professional standards department of the Gloucestershire Constabulary.


Update 24/01/2014:

The investigation has concluded, with the recommendation:
"...suggest that there needs to be some Organisational learning around the media and members of the public taking photographs.."

The officer involved "accepts he was unprofessional and obviously breached the Standards expected of him."

"... and now realises that he had no Power to prevent him (or anyone) from taking photographs or to view the photographs in order that some would be deleted."

The officer "could not adequately justify that this was a crime scene."

However, he lied about that encounter before I started filming, stating that I gave him my camera instead of him snatching it etc. However, with no evidence nothing can be done.

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