Police try to stop Walthamstow blogger taking pictures of a bus crash

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 15 January 2009

I spotted in London Lite this evening the story of the 97 bus that crashed into McDonalds in Hoe Street in Walthamstow, and then noticed a big spike in traffic to an old currybetdotnet post about a crash near Walthamstow Central station just after it opened in September 2004. That caused the station to be closed whilst all lit up for the evening, and I sneaked in to grab some photos.

Walthamstow Bus Station abandoned after an accident  Walthamstow Bus Station abandoned after an accident

I thought, as I've done with things like using the iPlayer abroad or the weather at Glastonbury, it would be worth adding a note to link users to what they were actually looking for - pictures of the most recent accident.

A quick Google search turned up the story of the incident on the Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest blog, along with some photos and what is becoming a depressingly familiar story in London:

"My blogging is a little late today, interrupted by a 97 bus crashing into the Walthamstow branch of McDonalds, on Hoe Street, and by a spot of bother with the law, who demanded that I delete all the photographs I'd taken."
97 bus crashes into McDonalds in Walthamstow

The blogger refused, and a member of the press came to their aid in the dispute:

"Police Community Support Officer JC 206 saw me taking snaps and came running. He shouted at a colleague to detain me. He then approached and demanded: 'Why are you taking photographs of a crime scene?'

...

The PCSO then demanded that I delete all the photographs I'd taken. I refused. His demand was entirely lawless, apart from being absurd and unreasonable. There are no lawful grounds for demanding that someone delete photographs on their camera or mobile phone.

...

He asked if I had ID on me and what my name and address was. I asked why I should supply it to him. At that moment a man with a very large camera materialised beside us. I pointed out to the PCSO that here was someone else taking photographs. The PCSO asked if he was press and was shown the photographer's press card. I told the photographer that the PCSO was giving me a hard time for taking photographs and the press man said very vigorously that anyone can take photographs in a public place. He produced a legal advice card and urged me to get in touch in case of difficulty. "

After this intervention, the police backed down, and allowed the photography to continue.

5 Comments

Community Support, pronounced SPURT (coz they're w***ers) are all really playtime plod. On wood st you can see them hassling kids and anyone who may look a little derilict. They rove about in groups and look ridiculous compared to proper old bill. they also all f*** off home at 6 o'clock. Your experience is worrying because it would seem they not only ignorant of what the law is, but they seem to be making up heir own law.

Read this, print it out, carry it with you at all times and you will be sorted.

I can see both points of the story, it was a crime scene and crime scene needed to be intact from public interference, then again public freedom was being questioned.

"The PCSO then demanded that I delete all the photographs I'd taken. I refused."

That's a silly cop :D

There was a similiar case in New York a few years ago. A local blogger and activist would simply go around filming cops writing citations, as well as tow trucks, and other city operations that tend to draw negative press. In the end he was allowed to continue, after many legal battles.

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