Olympic guards wrong to stop photographer, admits 02 (update)
An Olympic venue has admitted security guards were wrong to stop a photographer taking pictures, but insists staff cannot be expected to have a detailed knowledge of anti-terror laws.
The partial climbdown comes after private security staff displayed an apparent ignorance of the law when guards banned pictures of the O2 Arena, taken from a public place.
Guardian reporter Peter Walker had been videoing the O2 from a public road south of the arena when he was stopped and ordered to show the guards his footage.
Walker had been testing the approach of security staff to photographers in the run-up to the Olympics. The 02 will host Olympic events, including gymnastics.
Pressed on whether guards were wrong to stop legal photography in the first place, 02 Communications manager Stephen Farmer conceded: ‘In this instance they were, yes.’
However, he said that security guards should not be expected to have a detailed knowledge of terrorism laws.
‘They were right to approach him and escalate it to police.’
He stopped short of saying that guards should be retrained in light of the incident.
‘We are constantly reviewing our security procedures. They are trained to a very, very high level,’ he told Amateur Photographer (AP).
And the venue has once again defended its overall stance, saying the reporter had first been approached when he was standing on private land and filming with a ‘professional camera’, without permission.
The arena claims camera-phone wielding tourists would not face the same scrutiny. ‘Tourists would obviously not be approached in the same way.’
O2 management maintains that, although the reporter was standing on a 'traffic island' [public land] near North Greenwich station, he had been seen photographing the 02’s ‘service and staff entrances’.
Farmer said that its security staff are aware of British Security Industry Association guidance that warns against overzealous behaviour.
However, at the time of writing, the 02 had yet to confirm to AP how this advice is communicated to individual staff.
Speaking in general terms, Farmer added: ‘There are shift briefings every day…
‘We are a large venue and very conscious of security, with 8.5 million people coming through our doors every year.’
Meanwhile, over the weekend, press photographer Jess Hurd posted a video that apparently shows similar treatment at the hands of security in Stratford, East London, where the Olympic Park is located.
It has been reported that the guards in question are from security firm G4S.
G4S is a member of the British Security Industry Association which issued photography guidance to its members last year, following a campaign involving AP.
OFFICIAL SECURITY GUARD GUIDANCE (issued after AP campaign)