Thursday, April 16, 2009

G20 policing and media censorship

The Guardian explains that in this video,
A City of London police officer approaches a group of photographers and camera crews and orders them to leave the area for a period of about 30 minutes or face arrest. The instruction is made under section 14 of the Public Order Act, which is intended primarily to disperse potentially disruptive or violent gatherings. The Metropolitan police, which led the G20 operations, later apologised for using the measure on members of the press.

It's all very well to apologize afterwards, but by that stage the job of rendered impossible any scrutiny of police behaviour has been done. The other videos posted show how important that scrutiny is.

Surely it is with scrutiny of the police just as it is with scrutiny of the government, and just as governments would have us believe it is with scrutiny of the public: if they're not doing anything wrong then they don't have anything to worry about.

Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64) is here. It states that the senior police officer may impose conditions on a public assembly if he or she
reasonably believes that—

(a) it may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community, or

(b) the purpose of the persons organising it is the intimidation of others with a view to compelling them not to do an act they have a right to do, or to do an act they have a right not to do

Sect 14 (1)

How exactly was it thought that that should apply to the press in this instance?

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