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Weblog video training material for police

13 July 2007 - Police dislike being filmed, but there is little they can do about it. A video showing policemen who protest being filmed while attending to an accident will be used as training material, police spokesperson Leo Dortland told a reporter of the popular GeenStijl weblog.

GeenStijl’s Rutger Castricum was told to leave by Amsterdam policemen when filming what happened after a car had bumped into another. Claiming his right to film in public places, he refused to leave until eight policemen had arrived to deal with the incident.

Afterwards, GeenStijl was called by police spokesperson Dortland, who said that publishing the material might have legal consequences.

Yesterday, Castricum met with Dortland to discuss the incident. Dortland acknowledged that the way in which the police had responded was not ‘right’. He said the first to arrive at the scene were inexperienced policemen who had no experience in dealing with the media.

Dortland said the GeenStijl video will be used as training material for new policemen.

The incident seems to be no exception. Activists’ website Indymedia says that two months ago, it was asked to remove photos of animal rights activists protesting in front of a butcher in Amsterdam, because a policewoman could be identified on them. Incidentally, the same policewoman would be in the GeenStijl video.

Although the police warned that failing to remove the photos might have legal consequences, Indymedia refused to do so, claiming the photos had news value. It says it has not heard from the police since.

In April, a photographer said he had been forced to delete photos he had made of police removing participants in the Zombie Walk from the Leidseplein.

Legally, the police cannot forbid people to film or take photos in public places, although they can order people to leave an area. They can go to court if photos or videos are published on which they can be identified. A judge will then have to weigh their privacy against the news value of the published material.

GeenStijl is a populist weblog and news website claiming 75,000 visitors per day.

GeenStijl videos: accident, Dortland (in Dutch). Indymedia (in Dutch). Zombie Walk. Illustration: police at animal rights protest (photo: Indymedia / Respect voor Dieren)


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