Photographers face strife

On 16 May a small group of protesters gathered at Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park. Several were arrested, by a large number of police, as they voiced their anger at the lockdown and support for conspiracy theories.

Some expressed hostility to the press, particularly photographers - some of whom have faced similar obstruction elsewhere from members of the public, security guards and police elsewhere. After discussions with the NUJ the National Police Chiefs Council issued a letter noting the "public interest in keeping the population informed of the developing crisis" - and the union is seeking talks with those who accredit security guards.

The NUJ Photographers' Council's statement on this troubling development is is here: "The Photographers' Council continues to highlight and report incidents of inappropriate police responses towards photographers. The Metropolitan Police has reinforced its commitment to get the message across to its officers that journalists and photographers are key workers and should be able to get on with their jobs. More of a problem has been security operatives behaving aggressively towards photographers and obstructing them from working. There is no legal requirement for security operatives to receive training on working with journalists and many of them are ignorant of the rights of photographers to take pictures in public places; the NUJ is pursuing options to address this.".

In April the National Police Chiefs Council Communications Advisory Group circulated guidelines to police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These state plainly that: "Journalists are covered as key workers. There is a public interest in keeping the population informed of the developing crisis and subsequent recovery / return to normality. Responsible journalism promotes good community relations and assists the emergency services, which is essential in the current health emergency. Journalists will be expected to carry a UK Press Card or other official record" of their status.