5 February 2016
by an NUJ photographer
Last weekend saw pitch battles in Dover between fascists and anti-fascists when opposition to an anti-immigration demonstration turned violent.
I think it is fair to say that it was a rough day. Old fashioned street fighting a hail of stones, bricks and bottles. Arrests have included those carrying blades and other weapons. There were many threats to the media, one colleague was threatened with rape. Others were chased, assaulted and one photographer hospitalised.
The London Photographers' Branch has put together safety tips for public order situations which members might find helpful.
Take protective gear, hard hat and take a small first aid kit. Have the NUJ legal number handy.
I guess crucially it's about looking out for each other. Make sure you travel safely, it is a good idea to avoid public transport. Buddy up with another colleague where possible and watch each other's backs.
There is a Pegida demonstration in Birmingham this weekend, be prepared and look out for colleagues.
Plan accordingly and take appropriate precautions - there may be a range of people hostile to journalists.
Carry a copy of the NUJ's and Thompson solicitors emergency phone numbers in case you need help:
Thompsons operate a 24-hour EMERGENCY number for work-related criminal matters –
08005877530 (mobile to 8005877530)
Here are some tips and advice –
- Always carry your press card in an accessible place and use it to identify yourself
- Always carry a map so you can check alternative routes and exit points
- Leave yourself time to drive the route to check for places for good pictures, trouble spots, level of policing, exit routes
- If you are parking a car, think carefully where you leave it, as you might need to get out in a hurry
- If you park too close to the unrest your car could get damaged or blocked if there is trouble
- If you are a freelance on commission, are you insured by the media organisation?
- Wear strong boots or shoes and strong, tight-fitting clothing which allows you to move about freely
- Shin guards, kneepads, body armour, helmet - all or some may be worth thinking about
- Always remember the weather and dress accordingly
- Carry the minimum amount of equipment so you can move quickly if need be
- Have enough film or electronic memory
- Let someone know that you are covering the unrest and tell them what time you are leaving and at what time to expect you back
- At all times you should be distinct from the protesters and the police
- Always work in such a way that if something happens you can extract yourself
- Keep an eye on fellow journalists in case they need help
London Photographers Branch tip sheets -