I am a photographer, not a terrorist.

The British Journal of Photography has reported a protest being arranged on twitter outside Tate Modern today over the rights of professional and amateur photographers. Photographers are being stopped from taking photographs in public places, typically but not exclusively in London, on the grounds that they could be carrying out reconnaissance for terrorist operations. The officers involved in these incidents are rarely aware of the current ACPO rules on what they can and can’t ask a photographer to do. Sometimes there are arrests, sometimes people are forced to delete their photos (regardless of the fact they could be undeleted), sometimes people just get moved on.

It is preposterous, of course, that someone trying to carry out covert surveillance would choose to use a big camera, tripod, and a variety of lenses to do so. But it seems that if you have an SLR with you, you are more likely to get stopped than shooting with a compact camera in the same place.

Find out more at http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=871683 and http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/bbc_photographer_terror_stop_former_officer_blasts_met_news_292330.html

I went on a photo trip around London a couple of weekends ago with a friend and honestly expected at some point to be stopped and asked what we were doing, even though we were taking photographs in public spaces. It is a sad indictment of the misuse of anti-terror laws when people doing nothing wrong are made to feel as if they are acting like criminals.

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    2 Responses to I am a photographer, not a terrorist.

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    2. John says:

      If you look at the actual laws on photography in the UK, they are quite simple – you can legally photograph anything or anybody in a public place, but not so as to follow people around and harass them. It isn’t a matter for ACPO (which is not a lawmaking body)to make rules about, but the latest guidance from them is welcome. That doesn’t mean the policemen will take any notice of it.

      In bully boy Britain, your rights in practice are not a matter of law. They are a matter of who is bigger than you and the effect of public hysteria about child pornography and terrorism. Law and rationality don’t come into it. If some excited member of the public demands your film or to delete your images, they have no legal right to make that demand. However, if you resist, the police will probably arrest you, not the assailant, for ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace’.

      I tend to go on holidays to less paranoid countries if I want to take a lot of photos. Britain has become a bit scary.

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