A police officer who is under investigation after apparently threatening to arrest a photographer and delete his images is still on active duty, Amateur Photographer (AP) has learned.
Police chiefs are carrying out a misconduct investigation after a 12-minute video of the clash, recorded by the 26-year-old photographer using a mobile phone, was posted on YouTube.
‘The police officer is still working and still on active duty,’ a Gloucestershire Police spokesman told AP today.
The photographer, who declined to be named, accused the officer of abusive behaviour while trying to photograph a crash scene in Gloucester on 19 November.
An 86-year-old woman, who had been knocked down, later died from her injuries.
The police officer claimed that the road was closed at the time of the incident and that it was a ‘crime scene’.
He said such pictures were off limits because the ‘family of the person who is seriously injured doesn’t know yet’ and ‘I don’t want you putting stuff on the internet’.
However, the photographer – who was accused of obstructing a police officer – claimed that the police cordon had been lifted at the time he took the shots and that he was on public land.
In a statement accompanying the YouTube video, the photographer said: ‘All those involved had gone already, there were no injured people there, no ambulance. I would never take photos of injured people and publicise it.’
When the photographer accused the officer of swearing at him, the video appears to show the policeman replying: ‘You are lucky I didn’t bloody knock you out to be fair.’
‘Living hell’ threat
Under threat of arrest he said he was forced to give the officer his name and address.
The photographer, who was using a Canon DSLR, was ordered to delete all his images or face arrest, have his camera seized and his day made into a ‘living hell’.
In the end, after the officer reviewed the photos, no images were deleted.
When asked, the photographer declined to tell the officer whether he was a member of the press.
Police guidelines state that officers have no legal power to prevent or restrict what the media record.
The Metropolitan Police guidelines, for example, add: ‘Once images are recorded, we have no power to delete or confiscate them without a court order, even if we think they contain useful evidence.
‘If someone who is distressed or bereaved asks for police to intervene or prevent members of the media filming or photographing them, we may pass on their request but we have no power to prevent or restrict media activity.’
‘Behaviour has fallen far short’
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl has urged the force’s chief constable to deal with the incident with ‘utmost urgency’.
Surl said last week: ‘I appreciate the work of the police can be very challenging, but no matter what the situation they should deal with the public in a civil and responsible manner at all times…
‘It appears the officer involved has fallen far short of the behaviour expected and required by the Constabulary.’
Gloucestershire Police told AP that a timescale has not been set for the conclusion of the internal investigation.
In an earlier statement, Gloucestershire Police said: ‘All police officers in Gloucestershire take an oath to “serve the public with respect to all people”. Any officer found to breach this oath or any allegations or complaints made about officers are thoroughly and robustly investigated.’
The force declined to comment further amid the ongoing probe.
The YouTube video has so far been viewed more than 28,000 times.
Last year, AP uncovered apparent flaws in the systems used by one in four police forces to retrieve crucial details of legal claims made against them by the public.