Independent Media Centre Ireland

Police force UK broadcasters to hand over footage from London riots

category international | crime and justice | other press author Saturday September 24, 2011 16:59author by concerned

Media cameras become police cameras

In a report from the WSWS site, they describe how the broadcasting media have been forced by the UK govt. to hand over 100s of hours of unbroadcast footage of the riots to the police.

This is yet another serious erosion of checks and balances in the system and reflects both the paranoia and vindictivness of the system.

Whilst the mainstream media are generally to be trusted anyhow especially when it comes to social justice and matters relating to maintaining the system, they rightly see that this is a threat to themselves.

Last year we had the scandals of expenses of govt ministers in the UK which were basically robbing the country blind and behaving totally dishonestly. We also have the same govt who have supported terrorist activities in Libya by aiding and abetting and take part in the bombardment and attacks by NATO on the people in Libya where thousands have already been killed by them. Yet at the same time, they pretend they are the guardians of peace and law and order. In fact they are extremely worried the capitalist system is under massive strain and of a massive uprising of the people. It is this which is the real threat and driver of their actions.

So taking from the report, we have:

The order demanded the disclosure of “any broadcast or unbroadcast video or still pictures” from the disturbances, which were triggered by the police killing of 29-year-old father of four Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London on August 4......

The broadcasters had initially said they would not release the material. The BBC, ITN and Sky News said they had a policy of not giving unbroadcast footage to the police unless a court instructed them to do so.....

The Guardian quoted a “senior insider” at one of the broadcasters as stating, “It is very, very rare that we are served with a court order to hand over footage like this. We don’t hand over material willy-nilly because it compromises the security of our journalists on the streets. Clearly we don’t want them being seen as an evidence-gathering arm of the police.”

Jon Snow, newsreader for Channel 4, also criticised the move. “Media [is] now regarded as in concert with police in all public-order clashes”, he said.

CCTV and broadcast film footage has already played a major role in the state repression being meted out against working class youth. Hundreds of police officers are reported to be examining 40,000 hours of CCTV footage from across the country. In London alone, 20,000 hours of CCTV images are being studied.

These recordings have enabled the police to carry out mass arrests. Some 3,000 people—mainly aged between 16 and 24 years of age—have so far been arrested. Some 1,700 have appeared before kangaroo-style court hearings, many receiving prison sentences for the most menial offences.

Emails obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act make a mockery of judicial independence. They confirm that the courts have been instructed to ignore legal sentencing norms, and dispense “summary justice”.

The above snippets should give some idea of the brutality that the system is capable of and intend to carry out as their position becomes more untenable in the months and years ahead.

For example in this next quote:

In the last weeks, young people have been imprisoned for six months for petty offences, such as stealing an ice cream cone from a looted shop, or bottles of water.

We can see how this is a throwback to the 19th century when you could be deported to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread. This is a sign of barbaric medieval thinking.

Lastly the next few extracts from the report make this clear:

Paul Mendelle QC told the newspaper, “The idea that established Court of Appeal authorities can be set aside or ignored by the secret advice from an anonymous civil servant strikes me as undemocratic at best and unconstitutional at worst.

“Blanket advice to magistrates to deal with all cases in one particular way—commit to crown court—regardless of the facts of the individual cases might be seen as an unlawful fetter on their discretion.”

The emails confirm that a politically motivated witch-hunt against young people has been sanctioned by the powers that be.

The political establishment and the media are united in insisting that the riots were not the result of pent-up anger over police brutality and social deprivation, much less the austerity measures now being imposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government.

Instead, they insisted that “feral youth” and a “criminal underclass” are to blame. The aim of this is to justify the abrogation of civil liberties and democratic norms, and sanction class retribution against young people.

Related Link:

Indymedia Ireland is a media collective. We are independent volunteer citizen journalists producing and distributing the authentic voices of the people. Indymedia Ireland is an open news project where anyone can post their own news, comment, videos or photos about Ireland or related matters.