A newspaper photographer has told how she was threatened with arrest and forced to delete images she had taken at the scene of a shooting in East London.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has hit out at the Metropolitan Police after photographer Carmen Valino said she was stopped from doing her job despite identifying herself as a journalist to police officers in Hackney on Saturday.

Valino said she was photographing the crime scene from outside a police cordon.

‘A police sergeant approached Valino telling her that she was disrupting a police investigation and to hand over her camera,’ reported the London Photographers’ Branch of the NUJ.

‘After protesting to the sergeant that she was in a public place – outside the cordon where he had no right to take her camera – he grabbed her wrist and pulled out his handcuffs. Before he could put the cuffs on she handed him her camera.

‘He then left her for five minutes before coming back, bringing Valino inside the cordon and asking her to show him the images and deleting them. Valino was told she could come back in a few hours to photograph the scene.’

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: ‘The abuse of the law must stop. There is a gulf between photographers’ legal rights and the current practices of individual police officers.

‘The police should uphold the law, not abuse it – photographers acting in the public interest deserve better.’

Fellow photographers were quick to express their dismay at the news.

Writing on the London Photographers’ Branch comment page, Andrew Denny said: ‘It’s not just the deleted pictures or the inconvenience/annoyance which is the issue. In fact, that’s a relatively minor point. ‘It’s the increasing pressure on photographers to justify themselves and the intimidation which is the problem. It’s making me more nervous to use a camera at all in a public place – even a phone camera.’

Valino had been on assignment for the Hackney Gazette. Police have issued a statement.

It reads:

‘Hackney Police is aware of the incident and is currently looking into the circumstances. ‘It is clearly not the intention of the MPS to prevent people taking photographs. Our officers do receive guidance around the issue of photography through briefings and internal communications and we continue to drive this work forward.

‘It is therefore disappointing when this guidance in not followed correctly.’

The spokesman said any complaint about police treatment of photographers will be taken ‘very seriously’ and ‘dealt with appropriately’.