Police State Britain

Over the last couple of years there has been a steadily increasing stream of incidents about photographers being harassed by police, PCSOs, security guards and so forth, and prevented from taking pictures, usually under 'anti-terrorism' laws. From the photographer arrested for photographing the Christmas lights to the Austrian tourists who were told by Police that it was forbidden to photograph London buses and forced to delete their photos. These almost daily occurrences seem to suggest that the government and the police have, between them, decided that photography should be banned and have declared war on anyone carrying what looks like a serious camera.

The notorious images of apparent police aggression at the G20 protests reminded me of the recent pronouncements by the government about photographing police and security officers. How the police must regret that they failed to curtail that at the G20. Could those who recorded the incidents be prosecuted as a result of their activities?

It isn't just the Police and PCSOs who have got it in for us. Consider the latest Home Office run course called Project Argus, which is currently training an army of council workers, security staff and so forth as part of anti-terrorism measures. Attendees are urged to look out for 'overt/ covert photography' as well as those in possession of 'photographs, maps, global positioning systems and photographic equipment, (cameras, zoom lenses, camcorders).' The course has, so far, trained 30,000 people - half the target number.

When our sister magazine Amateur Photographer, which broke the story, made enquiries, a Home Office spokesman told them: 'It's all about being vigilant. These people are hand-picked - carefully chosen - and there's a level of common sense they need to apply.'

Sadly, the daily evidence around us is that common sense is not being applied. This is ironic for a country that has become the CCTV capital of the world. It seems it is okay for the state to photograph us but not vice versa.

What I find puzzling is that the justification for this aggressive




The Police are stoking a climate of hostility photography. This poster is an example.

paranoia is anti-terrorism. We've spent the last 40 years living with this threat, which previously came from the IRA, yet it's only in recent years that the response has been an alarming lurch towards a Police State.

Visit the News Discussion section of www.whatdigitalcamera.com/ forums and the news section at www.amateurphotographer. co. uk for more on Project Argus, and numerous stories about harassment of photographers. If you have been a victim of this yourself please write and tell us at [email protected].

I love my photography, especially gig photography, and I'm definitely not one for telling people when they can and can't use their camera, but... When I'm standing in a crowd, watching a gig, or concert I don't like having my view blocked by someone holding their camera up above their head to take a shot - forcing me to view the event through their LCD screen. Venues used to be quite strict on stopping this but since the advent of cameraphones it seems they've given up. You wouldn't get away with it in the cinema but at live shows some people film the whole event holding their cameras aloft for the duration, blocking the view of anyone behind. The results they get are mostly rubbish anyway, as most of these cameras can't cope with the low-light conditions And with all the effort of filming, it means you miss the enjoyment of the event itself. Surely I'm not alone in this annoyance?


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