O2 security guards get heavy with Guardian reporter

It’s worth a look at The Guardian’s story about one of its reporters being blocked from filming the O2 from Millennium Way, with security guards wrongly trying to invoke “terrorist laws” because “this is an Olympic venue”.

Funnily enough, I saw this incident happen – I was travelling into North Greenwich station by bus a few days ago thinking “why’s that bloke filming a security guard and sniffer dog?” I wish I’d taken my own picture now…

I can’t help thinking that “because of the Olympics” is going to be the new “‘elf and safety” cliche, as well as being used by jumped-up berks who are well exceeding their powers.

While I’m well aware that the O2 security guards make the Ravensbourne bike racks among the safest in London, I’ve had my own issues with them. Two years ago, a photographer pal tried to take some pictures of me in Peninsula Square (this new London square, the largest in 150 years”, “a dramatic new public space“.) before some idiot came over to stop the outrageous photography activity. Taking photos without permission is not allowed in this area that us locals are all commanded to be proud of, it appears. For it’s not public space at all, it’s private property.

Odder still, a pal tonight told me of a recent visit inside the venue: “They demanded my 12 year old niece take down her hood the min we stepped in, it was raining outside, she was with 2 adults and a toddler and it was 11am! What did they think she was going to do? They may have a policy but you can at least be nice about it.”

The guards may have a legal right to enforce what goes on inside the Dome, or in Peninsula Square (a superb place to socialise) – but out on grim Millennium Way? They’re on very sticky ground. I’d lay odds on there being a photographers’ flashmob there by the end of the week.


  1. It’s really hard to see what they hope to achieve with this kind of behaviour, other than bad press. The internet is awash with photos of the O2 Arena (1500+ in one Flickr group alone), never mind Google Maps, etc. I’m sure the good people at http://photographernotaterrorist.org/ will be taking a close look at it.

  2. I bet there’ll be quite a few similar incidents with other “Olympic security guards” aka idiots who have been given three hours training and think they’re now in charge of London.

    (That’s not a ref to Boris by the way.)

  3. A slight digression but I’ve always wondered about the O2 traffic management plans when they block roads and divert traffic. You know, when the O2 security guards stop cars from progressing along Millenium Way from Edmund Halley Way and turn cars towards the car parks. Who gives them authority to do that? If it is a public road I don’t see that they can stop me driving along Millenium Way whatever event they have on but if it is private that can be a whole different story. Mary, do you know?

  4. The quality of training given must be dire. Anyone who knows anything about cameras would identify mine as an obsolete film camera (47 years old) but I still get stopped. Not too often so far, but the coming summer should be interesting. Neil, thanks for the phnat link; I’d forgotten about them.

  5. I got stopped a while back taking photos of a band playing on the roof of the O2 as I was standing on “private ground”. I was told that it was a private gig and there are no photos allowed. How is it possible to put something on top of the O2 and call it private? I simply walked away from the area and got my big lens out instead.

  6. That’s it, get your big lens out!…..

    These security guards are seemingly just plucked from the pub, given totally inadequate training and let loose to intimidate the general public.

    There really ought to be a non-expensive way of getting their management to accept the blame for what often can amount to assault (I’ve seen one of the goons shoving someone with a mobile phone camera) — and certainly threatening behaviour or a breach of the peace.

  7. Sigh.

    Under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (always fun to challenge these knuckle-dragging grunts to identify the Section or the name of the Act), only a *uniformed police officer* has the right to stop a person photographing a building and only if *they have reasonable grounds to suspect that person is a terrorist*.

    Furthermore, Section 43 does not prohibit the taking of photographs from any public place.

  8. I have had bad experiances with jumped up officials whilst taking photos at Charing Cross and Cannon Street railway stations. I normally tell them where they can shove their rules!

  9. @Kevin:
    “I have had bad experiences with jumped up officials whilst taking photos at Charing
    Cross and Cannon Street railway stations. I normally tell them where they can shove their rules!”

    And what happens then? As a journalist I’m genuinely interested to know.
    I assume they don’t just say “Oh, OK, fair enough” and walk away.

  10. Mr Clusterfck
    Is that really your name??? I am not sure about the current situation – and I will ask. A couple of years ago Council officers went down and prevented a lot of what they said was illegal actions – I don’t know if this has been monitored or not

    – and all this about photography and security guards – I worked in a Docklands monitoring job through the 1980s and 1990s – and also hung about with a lot of industrial historians – and both lots were sometimes photographing buildings to monitor and record change. Prevention by security guard crept in gradually through that period – and for no apparent reason.

    too many monitors in that reply

  11. […] Yes, it’s somewhere people pass through on their way to the O2, or to Ravensbourne, Tesco or the TfL offices – but that’s all Peninsula Square is. I can only think of a handful of occasions when the square itself has been a destination – when fans flocked there after Michael Jackson’s death in summer 2009; and during the Olympics, when entertainment was put on in the square. But don’t expect many spontaneous happenings – this is all private property with eager security guards. […]

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