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Still the Harassment Continues


22 Feb 2011 9:26PM
According to the current issue of Amateur Photographer, yet another photographer has been stopped by police under the "terrorism act". This time for taking pictures of the millenium wheel. They allegedly told him, "You're not allowed to take close up pictures of the Wheel".
Apparently the photographer concerned had to threaten the complaints procedure, before even an apology was forthcoming from the Met.
So despite all the meetings between photgraphers organisations/MP's etc.and the Police, and all the statements issued by the Police hierachy to the effect that everyone is free to photograph in a public place, the harassment of photographers goes on.
Do the Police on the beat even bother to take note of the dictums issued by their superiors?
Or are they perhaps, just blatantly disregarding them?

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User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
22 Feb 2011 10:17PM
Unfortunately, all of the attempts by photography organisations (or, at least, all those that I have seen) to address this problem have been amateurish in the extreme.

I say this as a recent national council member of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation - a national organisation with 130,000 members and over 100 staff that looks after the interests of sporting shooters in the UK.

Now, if you think that photography has the potential to suffer from police ignorance and harassment, just imagine how shooting can suffer!

The answer for BASC was to build up very strong relationships with the ACPO and, through them, run training seminars for every police force in the country, offer a 24-hour media centre presence for everyone wanting information, and publishing, printing and distributing a booklet, endorsed by ACPO and the Home Office, which went into every police station throughout the UK and detailed the law in relation to shooting, the Home Office guidelines for police conduct, and the legal rights of shooters and gun owners.

Over the past 3 or 4 years since this initiative started, there has been a huge improvement in police attitudes to shooting sports as seen in a large reduction in the incidence of harassment and ignorance cases reported.

Now BASC has about 15% of all UK gun owners in its membership and the annual subscription is around 65 - so we are talking about an organisation with the financial resources to run strong and effective campaigns on behalf of its members. Maybe photography needs a similar organisation to protect photographers' rights. But would 15% (or more) of all camera owners in the UK stump up a subscription to make such a thing possible?

There must be more camera owners than gun owners in the country, so it should not be an impossible scenario.

The answer lies in our own hands.
22 Feb 2011 10:29PM

Quote:photograph in a public place

True, but to take close up pics of the wheel you need to be on the south bank, and that is not a public place, it is private property.
lobsterboy e2
11 14.3k 13 United Kingdom
22 Feb 2011 10:36PM

Quote:to take close up pics of the wheel you need to be on the south bank, and that is not a public place, it is private property.


Yup there are brass strips in the pavement either side of millennium wheel that mark the private land.
Up by county hall there is a similar system which separates the public walk along the Thames from the private area of More London & county hall.
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
23 Feb 2011 10:27AM
Last time I was there, there were - quite literally - dozens of foreign tourists (or, at least, they looked like foreign tourists) taking pictures with compact cameras, mobile phone cameras, etc.

Are the police and security functionaries so crassly stupid that they think potential terrorists would use large, bulky, SLRs rather than discrete, easily concealed "tourist" cameras if they were surveying a potential bomb target? Any serious terrorist surveyor would use a camera concealed in her spectacle frames or, at worst, a Minox.

Most touristy places, especially those on private land, actively encourage tourist photography as it brings good publicity and, therefore, additional income.
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
23 Feb 2011 10:31AM
....and, going back to my first post on the subject, in order to own and use a shotgun I have to have a Shotgun Certificate issued by my local police force. It only costs 50 for 5 years but, at each renewal, the police check that I have no convictions, am a respectable citizen and have no mental health problems.

Might a similarly vetted Camera Licence be a possible solution to the apparent problems in London?

I can already hear the howls of protest - but sometimes a wee bit of bureaucracy is necessary to preserve our traditional freedoms from the ravages of the Nanny State and do-goodery in general.

.
23 Feb 2011 11:24AM
[quote
Are the police and security functionaries so crassly stupid that they think potential terrorists would use large, bulky, SLRs rather than discrete, easily concealed "tourist" cameras if they were surveying a potential bomb target? Any serious terrorist surveyor would use a camera concealed in her spectacle frames or, at worst, a Mino.


Exactly!.......But then, if the photographer was a terrorist planning an attack on the Wheel, then why would he need to take a picture anyway?.....There's plenty of pictures already on the net.

Re. the remarks about the area being "private property"....This was not the issue. The police officers were not harassing the photographer for trespassing. They told him he was not allowed to take close -ups of the Wheel. If they really want to enforce the "private property" angle, then why are there not notices displayed within the "private" area stating, "Private Property, no photography"....? Without this,
it's highly doubtful that any "privacy" aspect would be legally enforcable.

If I were ever stopped in this situation, then my reaction would be "OK, charge me". It would be interesting to see what the charge would be, and if, in a supposedly democratic society, it would be proceeded with.
thewilliam e2
6 4.9k
23 Feb 2011 11:53AM
The big danger of asserting your "rights" to photograph is that the police are entitled to arrest you and hold without charge for 28 days. You have no right of redress whatsoever.

This 28 days is long enough for you to lose your job, and for this dismissal, you wouldn't have the protection of the Employment Protection Act. Gordon Brown wanted the 28 days extended to 90 days.

And some idiots still say this is a free country. Ben Franklin wisely said, "A nation willing to trade liberty for security deserves neither and will probably lose both".
JackAllTog e2
5 4.0k 58 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2011 12:41PM

Quote: had to threaten the complaints procedure, before even an apology was forthcoming from the Met.

So is this just a few bad cops that need reminding of the law, good for the guy that made the point with a complaint.
I got smiles and a pose from the the last cops i asked if i could photograph in central london.
discreetphoton e2
10 3.5k 20 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2011 3:20PM

Quote:So is this just a few bad cops that need reminding of the law


Harsh. It's not public land, so if the photographer created hell, then on this occasion I'd side with the authorities. I don't agree with the rules around the Wheel (seems self-defeating at such a prominent tourist trap), but rules are rules; these ones are particularly well-documented.

The job of the police is to uphold the law as it is written, not to pick and choose the bits they like.
23 Feb 2011 7:46PM

Quote:
Harsh. It's not public land, so if the photographer created hell, then on this occasion I'd side with the authorities. I don't agree with the rules around the Wheel (seems self-defeating at such a prominent tourist trap), but rules are rules; these ones are particularly well-documented. .



So if "rules are rules", then why don't the police arrest every tourist toting a camera close to the Wheel?
They cannot have it both ways.....there cannot be one rule for tourists and another for photo-enthusiasts. And what about mobile phone users near the Wheel?...
You say the rules are "well documented".......in that case, where are the signs around the Wheel designating it as private property and "photography forbidden"??..A number of brass studs on the pavement mean nothing to someone not familiar with the area.
And the photgrapher does not have to "create hell"...Just politely inform the authorities, that he is entitled to take pictures at a location (in the absence of any signage to the contrary) which is part of the public highway. And if it is a case of arrest being threatened, then are all tourists in the area attempting to take pictures also going to be arrested?
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
23 Feb 2011 8:02PM

Quote:am a respectable citizen and have no mental health problems


Smile Smile

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