With all of the recent problems that photojournalists and news reporters have had to endure from police officers and other influential figures in the United States comes disconcerting news, and raw footage (above), of our fellow creatives across the pond in London, England suffering from the same issues – only this time from security guards.
It is understood that there exist stringent photography rules and regulations while inside Olympic venues, but recent moves made by the O2 at the North Greenwich Arena, which is set to host the summer Olympics in various sports, has enforced unjust and unwarranted matters of conduct that pertain to outside the arena. Media and civil liberties groups, in turn, have conveyed their dismay after O2 managers stated that they plan on catching, seizing, and questioning any individual who is seen taking photos or recording video from the site, even if he or she is doing so on public land.
A reporter from The Guardian, a newspaper with a long history of editorial and political independence based out of the United Kingdom, recently decided to experiment with the controversy at hand to see what could possibly happen. Upon shooting footage of the venue from a nearby public street, security guards wasted no time in walking over to the reporter and demanding him to stop filming. One guard requested to see the footage and when the reporter denied showing the recording because there is no law that permits it, another guard responded that the “terrorist law” authorizes it.
An O2 spokesman defended the guards’ seemingly illicit method and stated,
On the basis that [the reporter was] filming areas of the O2 that are not usually of interest to the public, our security staff’s approach and handling of the situation was entirely appropriate.
Completely bewildered by the spokesman’s defense of the way in which the O2 security guards handled the problem, John Toner from the National Union of Journalists released a statement saying he plans to meet with O2 managers immediately and also stated that their defense cannot hold up in the court of law. Security guards can investigate suspect behavior, detain an individual, and call the police for processing should an individual commit a crime, but they certainly cannot have any dealings specific to legal matters, especially when it pertains to committing any action, including filming and photographing, in public spaces.
The O2 spokesman also continued and stated that intercepting the reporter’s action was standard practice. Apparently, O2 managers work specifically with the media, and other outlets, to provide accommodation for requests to film in and around the arena, which is situated on private property. When filming or photographing the venue’s infrastructure and networks without proper consent, even from public vantage points, it is the management’s priority to approach those carrying out the action to determine how to best handle the situation.
In response to the controversy, Corinna Ferguson, legal officer of the civil rights group entitled Liberty, said:
There’s no power stopping a person taking photographs on public land, let alone to arrest them or seize property, without reasonable suspicion they’ve committed an offense. Police officers or security guards who get this wrong could well find themselves in trouble with the law.
With the Olympics right around the corner, and tourism kicking into full gear, all eyes are set to be on London and the venue’s atypical structure. Many have wondered whether or not London residents and tourists, who are apt to take a surplus of footage within the coming months, will face the same kind of harassment that the media has thus far.
After Toner’s meeting with O2 management and the security company heading the protective undertakings, he expressed great discontentment in the way his concerns were addressed:
The level of ignorance displayed by their employees is quite incredible. But for the management to display the same level of ignorance is beyond belief.
Although the O2 remains firm in their stance for the time being, the British Security Industry Association recently composed a manual that specifically states that if an individual is in a public place, either photographing or filming a private building, security guards do not have the right to prevent the individual from doing so. In addition, it was also declared that filming and photographing does not indicate hostile reconnaissance or any other type of skeptical deeds
Via: The Guardian