Thursday, 26 June 2008

Photographer = terrorist or paedophile

Being a keen photographer, I like to carry at least one camera with me at all times and photograph landscapes, buildings, trees, flowers and occasionally people. Recently I have been aware of some worrying articles reporting that amateur photographers like myself were under suspicion. here is one article from The Register about:
"Stephen Carroll is a keen amateur photographer, with an interest in candid portraiture: "street photography", he calls it. In December 2007, he was in the centre of Hull taking photos.

Unfortunately for him, his actions were spotted by two local policemen. They stopped him in the middle of Boots and asked him to accompany them outside. There they told him that he had been taking photographs of "sensitive buildings". One said: "I am taking your film".

Mr Carroll requested an explanation. He asked whether he was "obligated" to hand over the film. In vain! Every time he asked, back came the same response: "I am taking your film". Robocop is alive and well and apparently working in Humberside.

When he eventually handed over his film, he was asked to turn out his pockets and to show what other films he had on him."

You can read about other instances of photographers being detained etc. here including this re Austin Mitchell MP:
"Austin Mitchell MP has tabled a motion in the Commons that has drawn on cross-party support from 150 other MPs, calling on the Home Office and the police to educate officers about photographers' rights.

Mr Mitchell, himself a keen photographer, was challenged twice, once by a lock-keeper while photographing a barge on the Leeds to Liverpool canal and once on the beach at Cleethorpes.

"There's a general alarm about terrorism and about paedophiles, two heady cocktails, and police and PCSOs [police community support officers] and wardens and authorities generally seem to be worried about this."

Photographers have every right to take photos in a public place, he says, and it's crazy for officials to challenge them when there are so many security cameras around and so many people now have cameras on phones. But it's usually inexperienced officers responsible.

"If a decision is made to crack down on photographers, it should be made at the top. It's a general officiousness and a desire to interfere with people going about their legitimate business.""

Here is Austin Mitchell's EDM and the signatories to it.

Here is a BBC piece from the PM blog that shows the Metroplitan Police advertising poster that has worried many and where this comment was posted:
"I have been stopped twice when I have been using my camera in public. The first time was in 2005 when Iwas attempting to photograph a rather stunning sunrise from my seat on the train between Basingstoke and Waterloo. The conductor ran down the carriage and ordered me to stop, then told me he was confiscating my camera as it was illegal to take photographs from trains. I refused to give him my camera and asked exactly which part of the law stated that. He could not answer this, but became physically aggressive and tried to grab my camera. At this point two men in the carriage told him he was being an unreasonable idiot and to leave me alone. There was a very unpleasant argument and he finally left, threatening me with arrest by the British Transport police at Waterloo (this did not happen) as I was apparently a 'risk' to national security.

The second was last year in the city of London, where I was approached by someone who claimed to be a security guard from a building that I had just photographed. This man was not in uniform and had no identification to confirm his claim. He attempted to confiscate my camera as well. I explained that I had been photographing an architecturally interesting building and made it very clear that I knew the law and my rights, and if he attempted to touch me that would be a physical assault and taking my camera would be theft. He lfinally walked away muttering 'well don't do it again without asking my permission first'.

Anecdotal I know, but all true."

Here are some stories of professional photographers being mistreated by the police, some of the stories are quite frankly scary - this is Britain not a totalitarian police state, or are the two becoming synonymous?

Here are the ACPO Police-Media Guidelines.

Here are the details of Marc Vallee's assault and subsequent case.

Here is "A short guide to photographers rights in the UK."

and finally here is a spoof that my soon be rather too close to the truth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our police are giving cause for grave concern, they seem determined to breach the trust between themselves and the public at every opportunity.