Gemma Atkinson is the latest in a long line of entirely innocent people to have been abused by the Metropolitan Police via the Terrorism Act. Section 58(a) is the crazy amendment making it illegal to photograph a police officer if the images are considered “likely to be useful” to a terrorist. You can hear her story (and see the video at the centre of the story) for yourself above, but here it is in a nutshell:
The opening part of the mobile phone clip shows two uniformed police officers searching her boyfriend, Fred Grace, 28, by a wall in the station. Atkinson said she felt that police had unfairly targeted Grace, who did not have drugs in his possession, and decided to film the officers in order to hold them to account.
Seconds later, an undercover officer wearing jeans and a black jacket enters the shot, and asks Atkinson: “Do you realise it is an offence under the Terrorism Act to film police officers?” He then adds: “Can you show me what you you just filmed?”
Atkinson stopped filming and placed her phone in her pocket. According to her account of the incident, which was submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission that night, the officer tried several times to forcefully grab the phone from her pocket.
Failing to get the phone, he called over two female undercover officers from nearby. Atkinson said he told the women: “This young lady had been filming me and the other officers and it’s against the law. Her phone is in her right jacket pocket and I’m trying to get it.”
An argument ensued, Atkinson said, and five police officers – four of them undercover – backed her into an alcove, insisting they had the right to view her phone.
She said she was detained there for about 25 minutes, during which her wrist was handcuffed and a female officer told her: “We’ll put you under arrest, take to you to the station and look at your phone there.”
A second female officer approached her and said, incorrectly: “Look, your boyfriend’s just been arrested for drugs, so I suggest you do as we say.”
Atkinson claims the male undercover officer who initially approached her repeatedly threatened her with arrest, stating: “We believe you filmed us and that’s against the law so we need to check your phone.” When Atkinson protested, the officer replied: “I don’t want to see myself all over the internet.”
Yet again we have the Metropolitan Police thinking that they answer to noone for their behaviour. Fortunately Gemma’s set about proving them wrong. A judicial review, an immediate complaint to the IPCC and trial by Guardian – more nightmares for the force which constantly tries to paint officers such as these as untrained rookies, but they never are. There’s something rotten in the Metropolitan Police, and we can only hope that people like Gemma, and those who also captured Met violence and abuse on camera at the G20 protests shortly afterwards, will continue to do what our politicians refuse to do. One way or another the Met must be brought to heel.