RELEASE TIME: 12 February 2009
Control Orders which come into force on the 16th February will restrict the behaviour and movement of journalists and photographers carrying out their lawful jobs says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ)
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims that the rules will impose restrictions on terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted in courts – without mentioning innocent people recording news events will also getting caught up in the scheme.
CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said: “This is the latest wacky scheme from Jacqui Smith who seems hell bent on pushing through as much restriction as possible on freedom of people trying to provide an alternative view to that of the Government.
”We have evidence of wide spread abuse of the anti-terrorism laws where news photographers are concerned. Photographers taking even the most innocent of pictures have been ordered to hand over their work and detained while they answer questions. This is totally unacceptable for people trying to cover news events with bonafide Press cards, which are approved by the police.
“Who is going to judge if the requests made are reasonable and who is going to compensate the news photographers who miss their shot because of they have been effectively handcuffed by an over exuberant policeman?”
“Creating a law does not make it sensible or democratic especially when people really don’t know how it will work in practice,” said Cooper.
Under the new Orders journalists can find that their computers are seized and that they become a “suspect” by trying to pursue a story that is remotely critical of rule breakers in Parliament or the Police.
“Under the existing rules we have seen Police raid the offices of an MP over alleged information leaks, and a local journalist being prosecuted at the Crown Court getting a last minute reprieve from the Judge.”
Photographers are now banned from taking pictures of Police Officers and that seems to follow on from months of the Police videoing Press photographers with the ‘excuse’ that public order situations may arise from their presence.
“What abuses will we see given these extra powers and the heightened level of paranoia contained in them?” demanded Cooper.
Interim Control Orders, signed by the Home Secretary, must be referred to a judge within seven days for confirmation but cover:-
•Banning possession or use of specified articles or substances
•Prohibiting the use of certain services, such as internet or phones
•Restricting work or business
•Restricting association or communication with certain individuals or any people
•Restricting the person’s place of residence or who is allowed into the premises
•Restricting movements within the UK or international travel
•A specific 24-hour ban on movements
•A requirement to give access to specified people to his home
•A requirement to allow officials to search his home
•A requirement to let officials remove items from premises for tests
•A requirement to be monitored by electronic tagging or other means
•A requirement to provide information to an official on demand
•A requirement to report at a specified time and place