Home > Case Studies > Treated Like a Terrorist When Filming: A Case Study

Treated Like a Terrorist When Filming: A Case Study

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 31 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Terrorism Act 2000 Stop And Search

Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 the police now have the right to stop and search anyone within a specified area. There have been frequent reports of police abusing this new power as this case study shows.

Filming In the Streets of London

In November 2009, Italian art student Simona Bonomo, 32, was filming architecture in Paddington, London. “I had always used buildings and modern architecture as part of my art.” said Simona. At the time of her filming Simona was working on an art project on CCTV and surveillance and was taking general views of buildings. Simona was filming when two police community support officers arrived and began questioning her. What started out as seemingly casual questioning by the police ended in Simona being arrested.

Police Questioning Under the Terrorism Act

The police began by asking why Simona was filming the buildings and if there was any particular reason. Simona told the police officers that she thought the buildings were beautiful and she was just filming for fun. It was at this point one of the police officers replied, “So you are basically filming for fun? I don’t believe you.” The police officer asked to see Simona’s film and when she refused he claimed that, “If I think the film is linked to terrorism I have the right to view it.”

Further questioning from the police officer followed and Simona explained that she was an art student with an interest in buildings. The officer asked for proof that she was an art student and asked for identification. Simona, who was studying art at London Metropolitan University was not carrying identification on that particular day.

Arrested By Six Police Officers

The police officer who was questioning Simona then informed her that he had witnessed her cycling down a one way street. He took Simona’s name and address and then left with the officer. Shortly after this the two community police officers returned with four more police officers. “The first officer pushed me to the ground to handcuffed me and then I soon had all of the police officers on top of me,” Simona said. “They then twisted my arm giving me pain and pushed me into a van.”

Detained In Police Custody For Five Hours

Simona was held in a police cell for five hours and was then released with an £80 fixed penalty fine. The reason stated on the fixed penalty was that Simona had caused harassment, alarm and distress in a public place. The day after her arrest Simona went back to where she had been filming and spoke to builders who had witnessed the arrest. The builders said that the arrest was disgusting and that Simona had not caused any alarm or distress and that the harassment was caused by the police not Simona.

Justification for Stop and Search Under the Terrorism Act

According to recent media reports the police are arresting people without reasonable grounds. This is especially true of photographers who are photographing and videotaping the police. Under section 58A of the Terrorism Act, photographing a police officer could be classed as a potential offence. But, as in cases such as Simona Bonomo, police are arresting people who do not fit any terrorist profile or giving just cause for stop and search.

Controversy Over the Section 44 Terrorism Act

The power to stop and search under the Terrorism Act is permitted if there is evidence of a terrorist threat. Statistics by the Ministry of Justice show that the use of this power has increased threefold but less than 0.1% have been arrested for terrorist offences. Statistics have also shown that black and Asian members of the public are four times more likely to be stopped than white people. This type of abuse is responsible for the deterioration of public trust in the police force.

As Simona Bonomo’s arrest shows, abuse of the power by the police to stop members of the public under the Terrorism Act is occurring. The human rights and civil liberties organisation Liberty are campaigning to have the Terrorism Act amended. Members of the public who think they have been wrongly stopped, arrested and detained can complete an online monitoring form that is available at the Liberty website.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I am a father of an 18 year old daughter who now awaiting to go to college which has not been confirmed in writing to myself that she has been accepted so I have stopped maintenance until this has been confirmed. Her mother has now contacted the CBA who have written to me and sent me a payment scheme but I have still not received conformation that my daughter is going to return to college. I have no problem paying the maintenance to my daughter's own bank account if she is returning to college as she is 18 and an adult in law she should be able to manage her finance's. But the CBA policy says it must go to her mother I feel this policy needs to be changed and finance's should be put in my daughter hands and then used for her board and college course and social life, where do I stand on changing this policy. id1966
id1966 - 31-Aug-17 @ 7:39 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Mal
    Re: Rights If Your Child is Arrested
    Can police take my rights away as a parent of 13 year old and call other people in why I’m sitting in the police station
    12 March 2020
  • Lil Runs
    Re: Rights If Detained by the Police
    My son was taken. The police took my son and I haven't heard from him in four days, my concerns are starting to grow and my…
    11 March 2020
  • Peach-pie
    Re: The Fight Against Racism
    Awesomely educational for me and my family. I’m a civil right baby if 1964! This is my heritage! I honor and appreciate my forefathers…
    1 February 2020
  • Dean From Woody :P
    Re: Key Figures in the Civil Rights Movement
    Ayo listen, Im working on this thing for Ms.Wall, and this article really helped. thanks for supporting a homie.
    9 January 2020
  • Buttons
    Re: Rights If Your Child is Arrested
    My 13 year was put on probation for fighting do I have to give my daughters social security number to probation officer
    1 January 2020
  • jacqueline ryley
    Re: Protecting Your Privacy
    Hi I came to live in my home in 2003 and to the left of my home the land was slightly incline because the ground is sloped. But in 2014 a…
    2 December 2019
  • Sticky
    Re: Protecting Your Privacy
    My neighbours have a flat roof out the back which looks over to our back garden it is not safe to walk on but her children and herself…
    24 October 2019
  • Shelly
    Re: Anti Social Behaviour Orders, ASBOs: Your Rights
    I have got the council and a pcso comin to visit regarding my grandson who is 14 for anti social…
    14 October 2019
  • Shelly
    Re: Anti Social Behaviour Orders, ASBOs: Your Rights
    Hi I've got the local council and pcso comin to visit regarding my grandson who is 14 for anti social…
    14 October 2019
  • Elaine08
    Re: Stop, Search and Arrest Rights
    My son had his birthday money taken off him, apparently he is a drug dealer!! They took it off him and told him to prove where…
    13 October 2019