News Team International agency photographer Lawrence Looi has lodged a formal complaint against West Midlands Police claiming he was forced to delete photographs from his camera.
Birmingham-based Looi was covering a protest outside the International Conference Centre ahead of Labour’s spring conference when a police officer allegedly took objection to being photographed. Looi was then physically detained and had to delete his photos.
Looi, who claims the officer would not look at his press card, said: ‘The police are supposed to keep within the law and we have a right to report. If we can’t do that then we might as well not be called Great Britain.
‘The police said that they might want to go undercover but it was a high-profile event, they are public servants in a public area.
‘I wanted to highlight the increased presence of security at the conference. I agreed to delete them because I had to rush back to the office and didn’t want to spend half the day in the meat wagon trying to prove my point when I clearly wasn’t getting through to them.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers’ guidelines state that: ‘Members of the media have a duty to take photographs and film incidents, and [police officers] have no legal power or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict what they record.”
‘It is a matter for their editors to control what is published or broadcast, not the police. Once images are recorded, [the police] have no power to delete or confiscate them without a court order, even if [the police] think they contain damaging or useful evidence.”
West Midlands Police would not comment on the complaint while it was subject to investigation.