A legal helpline has been set up for photographers and journalists who need advice when dealing with police during the G20 protests in London.
‘Photographers in particular have faced heavy-handed policing in recent months,’ states the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) which will have lawyers on call until 5.30pm on 2 April.
‘The NUJ is concerned that the police could hamper journalists covering protests against the G20 summit of world leaders in London,’ adds the union’s website.
The NUJ’s Freelance Organiser John Toner adds: ‘Previous summits have proved that members might have a need for advice and representation by solicitors specialising in criminal law. The NUJ is offering the service to its members, but hoping no-one will have to make use of it.’
The move comes as photographers – both amateur and professional – continue to be stopped by police using counter-terrorism powers.
In February the need for clear police guidance on photography became vital when a new Act made a photograph of a police constable a potential crime if police deem it likely to be useful to a terrorist.
Fearing that the new legislation would lead to further ‘abuse’ of police powers, hundreds of photographers staged a demonstration outside New Scotland Yard.
Last month, in a meeting with counter-terrorism minister Vernon Coaker, Amateur Photographer magazine stressed the need for police to adopt a common-sense approach when dealing with photographers.
Coaker insisted that there is ‘no intention to try to stop legitimate photographic activity’.
NUJ members attending the G20 protests or summit in a professional capacity are urged to call the NUJ’s legal department on 020 7843 3721.
For more details visit www.nuj.org.uk
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Picture: Police were out in force at demonstrations outside the Bank of England in London this lunchtime Credit: Chris Cheesman