UK policeman found guilty of misconduct in photographer threat case

by Felix Esser

posted Friday, March 28, 2014 at 4:30 PM EST

A UK policeman who had threatened a photographer trying to cover the scene of an accident back in November 2013 has now been found guilty of 'misconduct' by the local authorities, the Amateur Photographer reports. This is the result of a lengthy investigation that started when the photographer first reported the incident shortly after it had taken place.

The photographer, who has not made his name public, was trying to cover the scene of a car accident during which an elderly lady was fatally injured, when he was approached by the police officer in charge. (As a clarification, the people involved in the accident were no longer present when the photographer first arrived, he claims). His camera was then seized as 'evidence' and the photographer was asked to reveal his identity as well as show a press pass, with the argument that only members of the press are allowed to take pictures at 'crime scenes' (which is not the case according to British law).

During the encounter, the photographer was verbally attacked multiple times. At one point, the policeman threatened to make the photographer's day a 'living hell,' and later even told him he was lucky "I didn't knock you out to be fair." Fortunately for the photographer, he was able to record the whole encounter with his cellphone. The video of the incident was later posted on YouTube, which probably helped significantly with pressing charges against the officer.

Gloucestershire Police has now removed the officer from frontline duty, and suggests that "there needs to be some organisational learning around the media and members of the public taking photographs," presumably referring to their own forces. Furthermore, the policeman involved reportedly "accepts he was unprofessional and obviously breached the standards expected of him (...) and now realises that he had no power to prevent him [i.e. the photographer; ed.] (or anyone) from taking photographs[.]"

This unfortunate encounter of a photographer with the police had a positive outcome for a change, and the fact that a major part of the incident was recorded on video was probably the main reason that the officer was found guilty of misconduct and the photographer's rights were acknowledged. Otherwise, there might not have been enough evidence to support the photographers claims.

(via Amateur Photographer)