Photographer is arrested taking pictures of police

By Dominic Ponsford

A freelance photographer has been arrested and charged with obstructing the police after taking pictures of armed officers in central Nottingham.

Alan Lodge was left unable to carry out his job after having a mobile phone and camera confiscated. He says the police action flies in the face of a protocol on dealing with the press which was agreed with the force just a month ago.

Ironically, Lodge was involved in the Nottingham NUJ branch committee which helped draw up the guidelines — number seven of which states: "Police officers do not have the authority to prevent a person taking a photograph or to confiscate cameras or film, and such conduct could result in criminal, civil or disciplinary action."

The NUJ has provided Lodge with a rented camera and phone while it continues to campaign for the return of his property.

According to the Nottingham NUJ branch, he was in the St Ann’s area of Nottingham on 19 March when he saw armed police on an operation and started to photograph them.

Nottingham NUJ branch secretary Kevin Stanley said: "They approached him and asked him to stop taking photos. He said no, ‘I’m in a public place and I’m not breaking the law’."

Lodge was then arrested and charged with "wilfully obstructing a police officer". He appeared in court last week and was released on bail to appear again on 2 May.

Nottinghamshire Police is one of only a very few forces in the country to have agreed a set of guidelines on how to deal with journalists.

The agreement states: "The media has a legitimate role to play in informing the public and they will attend the scene of incidents. The presence of a photographer or reporter at an incident does not of itself constitute any unlawful obstruction or interference."

Stanley said: "Before these guidelines were issued there was a tendency for journalists in Nottinghamshire to be prevented from doing their jobs by police officers who didn’t necessarily know the rules and that journalists are only there to do a job.

"There was always a feeling that press and photographers were there for intrusive purposes rather than reporting purposes — especially when it came to the scene of an accident or a murder.

"This incident makes a mockery of the guidelines that the chief constable signed up to at the beginning of the year."

Nottinghamshire Police declined to comment while court proceedings are ongoing and the matter is sub judice.

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