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Commuter detained for taking photos of train at Gravesend

5:20pm Tuesday 3rd August 2010

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/northkent/8309558.GRAVESEND__Commuter_detained_for_taking_photos/

By Abigail Foulkes »

A COMMUTER has been left “angry and intimidated” after being detained at a railway station for taking photos.

The secret blogger who refers to himself as "Olly Cromwell", was ordered off his Southeastern train at Gravesend by Rail Enforcement Officers (REO) after taking photos of them on his mobile phone.

The IT worker from Streatham wanted to use the photos for his blog and took them on July 24 while waiting with his wife on the platform, before taking another shot on the train.

The father-of-one said: “I had heard a lot about how REOs abuse their power and wanted the pictures in case I ever wrote a blog about them in the future.”

He told News Shopper two of the officers asked to see his photos and when he refused, used the Terrorism Act as a reason to ask him to delete them.

After telling the officers they had no authority to enforce it, Mr Cromwell claims they demanded he get off the train and threatened to relay his description to the police for arrest if he refused.

The 36-year-old said: “I was pretty angry with them and intimidated.

“The fact that private companies and their employees think they have the right to carry out actions like this and intimidate customers is very scary indeed.”

After being taken off the train, he was escorted to Dartford rail station where he claims he had to wait against his will on the platform for the British Transport Police (BTP).

A BTP spokesman said: “BTP were called to Dartford rail station after staff reported a man taking photographs.

“After attending and speaking with the man, officers concluded that no offences had been committed and he was allowed to go on his way.

“The power to stop members of the public under the Terrorism Act resides only with police officers and with police community support officers when accompanied by a police officer, and only when that power is authorised by an officer ranking Assistant Chief Constable or above."

The blogger told News Shopper he hopes his story will help people know their rights.

He said: “I aim to educate not only the average person on the street, but the company and it's employees too about what commuters are allowed to do.”

A spokesman for Southeastern trains said the public are free to take photos of their trains and stations but should ask permission before taking photos of employees.

He said: “If any of our employees, including REOs, are likely to feature in photographs as individuals, we'd appreciate as a common courtesy, the photographer asking for their permission whenever possible.”

Photographers should only go onto areas that are open to the general public and don't cause an obstruction to passengers or staff.

Permission should be sought for any photographs taken of our trains and property for publication purposes.

A spokesman for the BTP said the public has the right to take photographs and film in public places.

He said: “Taking photographs is not normally cause for suspicion and there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place.”

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