I read this post yesterday on the You've Been Cromwelled site in which the author recounts how they were pursued and questioned by a couple of Rail Enforcement Officers (who are charged with looking after people on the railways and checking their tickets) for taking photographs. They do not have any police-like powers, they are just civilians.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
The story follows a familiar pattern. First the officers asked why they were taking photographs (of them). Then they asked to see the pictures. Then they asked the photographer to delete the pictures. The photographer refused to comply with any of their requests. One of the officers claimed that the photographer needed their permission to take photographs of them. One of them claimed that they did have the right to see the pictures because of "the terrorism act".
They then insisted that the photographer and girlfriend who was also on the train got off the train at the next stop to meet the British Transport Police who would deal with the situation. At first the photographer refused (the REOs had no right to demand this) but in the end relented as the girlfriend was getting drawn into it now and the photographer wanted a resolution.
Once the Transport Police got involved at the next stop they backed up what the photographer had been saying that indeed no permission was needed to take the photographs and they could not demand for them to be deleted. Then the two were allowed on the next train to go their way. It is heartening at least to hear that the police on this occasion were clear about what the law is.
I have blogged on numerous occasions about how police have exceeded their powers in this area. It is disturbing to hear that even civilians are getting in on the act now.
The author of the post is now planning to pursue South Eastern Trains for £300 compensation for the loss of his time that evening and I hope the claim is successful. I suspect it is only when they are hit in the pocket that they will start to take these situations seriously and prevent their staff from spurious citing laws in order to get people to comply with what they want them to do when they have no right.
Oh, and a bit of adverse publicity such as on the various blogs that are covering this might help a bit too.