Act of Terror: Citizen Photographers


In 2009, Gemma Atkinson filmed the police searching her boyfriend on a mobile phone. The police officers claimed that filming them was illegal under counter-terrorism law and demanded she hand over the phone. She refused, was detained for 25 minutes and handcuffed, while they tried to get the phone out of her pocket. In the end, both she and her boyfriend were released.

Atkinson made an immediate complaint, taking her story and the footage above to the Guardian. She took her case to the High Court to get a judicial review of the Metropolitan Police guidelines, which should clearly state that the Terrorism Act only applies where “the images are considered ‘likely to be useful’ to a terrorist.” The Met changed the language to avoid a judicial review.

Atkinson then made a complaint against the specific officers involved. But the IPCC exonerated them, despite their conflicting accounts, saying they weren’t aware of the law! The IPCC awarded Atkinson compensation, which she used to make an animated film highlighting the right to photograph the police while carrying out their duties.

In fact, they (and us) are being filmed all the time – by CCTV cameras – but the police “own” this footage in the sense that it’s rarely available to the public. Citizen photographers are essential to monitor police activities, to make sure they’re serving the public and not abusing their own positions of trust.

After all, if you’ve done nothing wrong, then there’s nothing to fear.

Below is the link to Gemma Atkinson’s film, with a Guardian comments section, and here’s the press pack. If this bothers you as much as it does me, please consider reblogging or publicising the film. There’s a copy inside the press pack. Thank you.

Act of Terror

Make Iain Duncan Smith live on £53 a week


On Monday, in an unintentional April Fool joke, Iain Duncan Smith claimed to be able to live on £53 a week, the amount of job-seekers allowance (after rent and bills) that some people under 25 have to survive on. This is on the day the Coalition introduced swingeing benefit cuts, which they call “reform.” Lest we forget, IDS earns a not too shabby salary as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (£1,581 a week), and “lives in the 17th-century Buckinghamshire manor his wife’s family has owned for six generations.”

A petition for IDS to live on £53 a week was launched almost immediately. Predictably, IDS called this a stunt, after the petition went viral. There were 370,806 signatures at the time of writing. In fact, the stunt was his own claim to be able to live on this risible amount. It’s an insult. I know because I did attempt to live on £53 a week for several months, as a glitch in my pension credit got ever so slowly sorted out. Despite extreme penny-pinching, I was overdrawn every week, with all the attendant bank fees. By the time it was resolved, I was over £300 overdrawn. The DWP had parked my file somewhere and forgotten about it, so at the end I got a backdated lump sum that covered the overdraft. I hate to think what would have happened if I did not own my flat.

Please consider adding your own signature to the petition. Let’s shame the bastard, if that’s possible, by getting it into six figures.


Thank you. There’s a widget on the sidebar so you can see how the count is going.

Slavic Dawn

Little Englanders are much exercised by the possibility that the combined working populations of  Romania and Bulgaria, 29 million work-shy, benefits-scrounging immigrants, will descend on dear old Blighty in 2014. This is when the perfidious EU lifts restrictions on movement between the 25 member states.

The Coalition has hearkened unto its heartland (the Daily Mail) and produced an action plan – negative ads in Romania and Bulgaria emphasising the downsides of life in the UK. You would have thought that triple-dip recession, an economically illiterate government demonising immigrants and the poor, and swingeing cuts to social services, would do the trick. Romanians and Bulgarians must be desperate to come here.

But enough carping. As a patriotic Brit, I’m willing to do my bit in repelling the Eastern Hordes. To that end I made a poster for the ad campaign, and here it is:

Keep Out!

What do you think? I’m not 100% convinced about the caption, but the image scares the crap out of me, and I live here. Suggestions are welcome as long as I agree with them, and there might be a prize for the best one. No, really, there won’t be a prize, though the winners will get a mention. Shall we say a week?

Update: Just changed the caption to something I like a lot more.