The police are always keen to manipulate the law to their own ends. Abusing their powers of arrest and detention simply to punish people for not sucking up to them in a manner to which they are accustomed.
As a result they often create more crime then they actually ‘solve’. The fact that they can cause a major disruption to the lives of the law abiding means nothing to spiteful cops who believe that their power has been somehow diminished when they make an unlawful demand that goes unheeded.
Such as the request to stop filming them in a public place. A request which nobody should comply with because you have every right to record the police without their permission, or having to give a reason why.
Be warned, it is usually the ones that ask you to stop filming that have the most to hide. It is these police officers that you should be recording to ensure that you are fully protected against them.
Lately however, I have noticed a new police retort to those that refuse to switch off their mobile phones. And that is, the police officer makes threats to seize the camera for ‘evidential purposes’.
Don’t be fooled by this.
Any officer stupid enough to seize a camera after he has made demands to stop filming him would land themselves in serious hot water. Because the very fact that he asked you to switch it off, and then threatened to seize the camera by way of intimidation, would prove that the seizure was made purely out of spite. And would leave themselves exposed to a civil claim for interference with goods.
The police do have certain powers to seize items without a warrant if the item has a necessary evidential purpose. But the test of this, is that the seizure must be fully justified. Seizing a camera phone because it’s owner wouldn’t stop filming is not a fully justified reason. And no smoke and mirrors interpretation of s17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act will change this.
For instance, here’s the police’s own policies and procedures regarding the seizure of personal items:-
The retention of all items of property taken into police possession must be for no longer than necessary and must be fully justified. Officers should be reminded that the Human Rights Act 1998 requires that no one shall be deprived of their possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided by law.
If you ever record a cop dumb enough to make an unlawful threat of seizure because you won’t stop filming them, politely remind them that such a seizure will be regarded as malicious, and that you will seek compensation as a result.
Then continue recording. Knowing that you now have a corrupt police officer standing right in front of you, who has already displayed his willingness to abuse his authority at your expense and therefore all the more reason to film him.
FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY, ALWAYS RECORD THE POLICE!