back to article The war on photographers - you're all al Qaeda suspects now

When you hear the phrase "helping police with their inquiries", does an image of dedicated selfless citizenry instantly spring to mind? Or do you wonder whether the reality is not slightly more sinister? How about "voluntarily handing over film to the police". Stephen Carroll is a keen amateur photographer, with an interest …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Well well

    who'd have thought it, police abusing their power. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No suprise

    I live in Humberside (only I dont, because there is no such thing anymore) and can tell you for a fact (my sister was a policewoman for a short time) that this behaviour is typical of Humberside police and is actually encouraged by their superiors (one of the reasons my sister quit). The force is so desperate to look like they're doing something that they make up easy crimes, instead of dealing with the hard ones.

  3. John Tuffen
    Thumb Up

    Are Photographers really a threat?

    Of course, the "war-on-terror" angle is all cobblers too... see Bruce Schneier's Guardian article:

  4. caffeine addict
    Black Helicopters

    I dispair of this country...

    These stupid interpretations of our laws are making me more and more belligerent. I remember the day when I challenged a copper to arrest me for "breach of the peace" safe in the knowledge we both knew he was talking out of his arse. Nowadays they genuinely seem to believe this crap they spout.

    Still, if any copper ever threatens me for using a camera, I'll stand by it. It's hardly Tienanmen Square, I know. I'd just have to use my one phone call to ask the missus to delete all that extreme porn I own before the rozzers break down the door and send the cats to Guantanamo Bay for aiding and abetting a terrorist...

  5. David


    Out of curiosity - does anyone have any real-life examples of terrorists carrying out photographic reconnaissance prior to an attack? I don't think the IRA were well-known for it, I'm not aware of the 9/11 hijackers taking pics of their targets, and if the 7 July bombers took any photos then nobody spotted them (and I'm not sure what purpose it would have served).

    As for the peeeedo concern, I can understand it's at least distasteful to think that someone's taken pics of your kids in public for sexual gratification, but I'm not sure what harm it does anyone.

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  7. David Harper

    It's happening in the U.S. as well

    Bruce Schneier, the security guru, has blogged about this idiocy several times, most recently on June 5:

    He includes a link to a web site which provides a handy two-page guide to the rights of photographers in British law, written by a legal expert:

  8. Pete Silver badge

    where are the media?

    "Well Chief Constable, can you clarify the law please - is it legal or illegal to take photographs in a public place?"

    All it needs is one question asked and answered on a prime-time programme to set this straight. We all know that the answer is that it's completely legal to photograph anything or anyone in public - though not on private property (which kinda puts the guy "apprehended" in Boots in a sticky, though not illegal, position). However, if enough people think it should be illegal, or is suspicious, or is the sort of think only a pervert would do, then social pressures kick in.

    Ethnic minorities have known for a long time that the police have no problem harassing perfectly normal, legal behavior. They do it because they suspect "these people" are doing, or might do, something wrong. The overwhelming evidence that they aren't, doesn't ever seem to suggest to the police that maybe their victims are normal, law-abiding individuals who just happen to draw attention - just like street photographers do. Welcome to the world of the harassed.

    You can't legislate against discrimination, or ignorance. Apparently you can't educate people either. All you can do is lift the veil of fear that is dragging our society down, to the point where anyone who isn't exactly the same as everyone else (whether in behaviour, hobbies or appearance) is labelled a criminal and treated accordingly.

    We're doomed.

  9. Secretgeek
    Black Helicopters

    Very good article.

    Reminded of an incident a few months agoe. A road had been closed so that a large crane could lift a big something or other on to the roof of the Capital One building in Nottingham. Two guys were stood looking at this going off about 100 yards down the road and one had his phone out and was taking a picture when two sizeable yellow jacketed security guards came over and told him in no uncertain terms that he wasn't allowed to take photos.

    I remember at the time thinking that was bollocks and yet I walked on anyway and didn't say anything.

    I regret that it's complacency like mine that will/has lead us on the road of this particular Orwellian nightmare.

  10. Adam Foxton
    Black Helicopters

    Down with photographers!

    Why, I remember the sixth of july a few years ago there was a "foreign" looking man (of whom I was immediately suspicious) who took a photograph of a bus. The next day, Boom! A terrorist attack happenned on a bus.

    You can just imagine the next thing out of the Humberside Police Officer's mouth- [loud as possible] "Sir, have you stopped taking photos of children yet?"

    Is there, I wonder, any law against recording the police stopping you? I mean it'd provide them with useful evidence in court if you were violent or suchlike, and it'd mean that you'd be able to defend yourself in court.

    Also, how terrorist-unfriendly is it for the police to go about telling people they're looking at a "sensitive building"? And how do you define "sensitive" for that matter?

    Camera because you're not allowed to take photos of them either. Probably.

  11. Jamie

    Is it a wonder???

    Is it a wonder why I hate the police, I give them credit for doing a hard job but there a select few in the police that are just power hungry facists who want to take away rights just in case. What is even scarier is that there are people out there who actually do believe the same sort of thing.

    I had a co-worker argue with me before over the fact that you should be able to lock people up for reading certian types of books.

  12. Mark Broadhurst

    Cant Picture this.

    No news here this has been going on for ages.

    Funnily enough after the 7\7 bombings the police appealed for footage of the bombings in order to help them find the bombers.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    since when

    does hull have sensitive buildings? Or are hotels full of hookers classed as sensitive now?...

  14. Eponymous Cowherd


    This pervophobia is starting to drive me nuts. Its getting so you cannot take pictures of your own kids in public places lest the Pervfinder General takes you away to be burned at the stake.

    What is it with the prats that run this sodding country? This trend towards criminalising the majority in order to catch/deter the minority of real offenders is getting absurd.

    Don't they get it? If we are all tarred as criminals then the real criminals have less to fear as they can hide in the noise of ordinary people being persecuted with trumped-up charges.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How far can you go?

    So, if an officer is insistent about "confiscating" your camera/film/media, how far are you allowed to resist before it becomes assaulting a police officer? Can you press charges against an officer for assault? Theft? Misrepresenting the legal position? Impersonating an officer of the law?

    Plastic pigs (the Community Support Officers) have zero powers of arrest anyway, as eny ASBO-fule no.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Once upon a time... a country up in the north. And I thought it was a good idea to take some nightly shots (speaking about photography and nothing else) of a refinery. Just when I found the ideal position and mounted the camera on the tripod the first police car arrived. 'What are you doing here?' - 'Taking photographs.' - 'This is against the law.' - 'Well, no. Not as far as I know.' - 'You must not take photographs here!' - 'Why? There is nowhere a sign which would indicate this.' And so it went on a bit. In the meanwhile, a second coppers' car arrived. In the end, I was body checked, car searched and film confiscated. All under a sort of Terrorist Act.


    who hasn't been to Scotland ever since

  17. alistair millington

    What about tourists.

    They photograph buildings all the time. you know, the big ones, unique ones, old ones, pretty ones...

    ...and what is a sensitive building, one that has feelings?

    But targeting people with a camera for any reason is just plain dumb.

    People who are doing dodgy things like bomb things or look at kids know too much to do it openly. So who is actually being targeted....

    The police are clueless to real world concerns and this is a <insert swear word> joke

  18. paulc

    You can't even photograph buses in peace now...

    you may have to cut and paste the link... but allegedly, a local has effectively given up his hobby of bus spotting because of the hassle he was getting over photographing them...

    "The credit controller says his first brush with the long arm of the law was in Pontypridd, last September.

    A bus driver took exception to being snapped and called the police, who demanded to see what he had on his camera.

    A second incident in Monmouth saw an embarrassed PCSO approach Rob and run his name and address through police computers after a member of the public complained he had been acting strangely."

  19. Michael
    Black Helicopters


    Stopping someone going about their lawful business is common assault, isn't it?

    ....and ....if it's a criminal offence, aren't the police officers involved permenantly relieved of their duties??( assuming the complaint sees the light of day )

    Correct me if i'm wrong on this.

  20. Steve

    "police state"

    I'm not one for shouting "police state" at the top of my voice every time I hear such stories, but I can't help but tend towards that way when officers remain unaccountable for their incorrect actions; yet we the public are becoming evermore guilty until proven innocent.

    I wonder what will happen if wireless cameras are mass produced such that the photos/stream can be broadcast live on the internet for literally anyone to record –where there’s no film/card to confiscate….

  21. Paul Dixon

    Bruce Schneier

    >does anyone have any real-life examples of terrorists carrying out photographic reconnaissance

    Bruce Schneier wrote about this recently (see

    He wrote "The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography."

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Contact your MP

    I wrote to my MP and received a nice reply on headed paper from the House of Commons, agreeing that it is wrong for the Police to try and stop photography in a public place.

    I then got a follow up letter from him, including a letter from Tony McNulty who is minister for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing. Stating there is no legal restriction on photography in public places. It is for the Chief Constable to ensure that Officers and PCSOs are acting appropriately and queries should be directed at them. But it also said decisions may be made locally to restrict photography, for example to protect children.

    I now carry a copy of this letter with me, and have since been stopped once, got the gestapo questioning, stood my ground, asked if they understood the law. They wanted to see my pictures etc etc.

    I Produced both letters, and asked if they would be happy explaining to their Chief Constable why they continued to harrass a member of the public, even after they were made aware of the law and the contents of the letters. Both letters were returned and they left without further comment.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    This cannot be allowed to continue..

    There should be some kind of education for all police and community officers as to what is legal and what is not. And those continuing to act illegally should be fined and if persist should be dishonourably discharged, as they are breaking the law not following it.

    The irrationality of people with proper cameras being stopped over those with just compacts is tragic. Even a semi-retarded half-brained monkey would pick something more subtle than the attention grabbing item that a dSLR tends to be if they didn't want to be suspect, which makes one suspect that these police are even stupider than the monkey in question!

    You can find another article on this subject here -

    Now it is stupid to try 'fight' the police, but you should never surrender your camera or film/memory card, tell them if they want to do that they require a court order, and if they need to take you down to the station, at which point they'd likely let you go as having no basis, which means you could also potentially charge them for wrongful arrest.

    I find the whole situation crazy, heck i found it bad enough when people started calling pedo just because someone shot a photo of a child, taking no consideration for if the shot was of a non-sexual nature, that paranoia made most photographers stop and go 'Yeah that would make a really great photo, but no, i don't want to risk it'.

    And so now it's been furthered to even crazier levels once again to a new level of paranoia which makes even myself scared to photograph in London in popular places or just general areas with good scenery due to fear of being innocently victimized under false pretenses.

    When I travel to Europe I don't have these concerns, rarely will the paranoia come even close to this communist style clamp down on photographers which once used to happen in Russia and be mocked by us, now look how the tables have turned on us! And what's been done to stop it? Not enough!

    I'd recommend all photographers keep a concise document on them with FACTS about your rights, and examples of court cases, so if stopped and questioned, you can immediately call upon precedents and law to support your case, atleast as a measure to try to protect yourself against becoming another victim in this war on photographers. Anyone know where we can go to find Freedom???

  24. Thomas Guymer
    Black Helicopters


    I am an amateur photographer and these new trends (whether isolated or not) are certainly worrying. Some street photographers have started carrying round leaflets with their rights on.. quite popular among people.

  25. max allan

    It's not only photos that help terrorists

    I had to find the postcode of a railway station recently to type into a map search website. A quick search of FGW's website gave no clue. After some more web searching, I gave up and phoned the customer service number. I was told that the postcode couldn't be given out "for security reasons".

    No doubt a photo of the railway station is also prohibited "for security reasons". Watch out train spotters and lost people.

  26. Brent Longborough

    Once upon a time...

    Back in the sixties, a friend of mine went on a trip to Moscow as a tourist.

    He took a photo of a bunch of people queuing up to buy pickled gherkins. (A bit of a rare luxury item, then, I imagine.)

    He was arrested and taken "downtown" for several hours. The potential charge: "taking pictures of the People without their consent". He was, happily, finally released, minus his film.

    So we're getting there...

  27. Rob Crawford

    Even the failed McDonalds employees are at it

    I was chalanged by a security jobsworth in Canary Wharf for taking a photo of the tower as I thought my kids would be interested in the window cleaners at work all the way up there.

    Apparently I was commiting a terrorist offence (according to Mr Minimum Wage) and I was going to be arrested and also banned from the area !

    He was less than happy when I pointed at the 20 (Japanese) tourists who where taking photos of the tower, and when I refused to hand over my camera he got really upset (I suggested that he did not touch me or my property). When his supervisor turned up and the threat of being arrested turned up along with being banned from the area if I did not comply with their orders was once again used.

    The issue was finally resolved when I pointed out that I worked in the building in question and my employers would make a a dim view of my being banned from the estate.

    However (there is a point) the security staff in Canary Wharf commonly hassle people in the pubs and resturants for taking photos of each other. It's not uncommon to see cameras and phones being taken off customers.

    It wouldn't be so bad but the security staff in Canary Wharf refuse to do anything if there is any issues (theyre usually the first to run away from, shop lifters, drunken financial sector workers or a days work).

    Mines the one with the camara in the pocket

  28. fraser smith


    Thanks for an insightful and well considered article. This is a subject that needs to be publicized as much as possible.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Send photographers to Guantanamo!

    It's all so stupid.

    I've even heard of police using anti-terrorism laws to stop simple trespass. What's wrong with the existing trespass laws?

    "Had a visit from the transport police yesterday (i work for networkrail) during our conversation i was informed that due to the high incidence of cable theft throughout the country ANYBODY found to be trespassing with bags of equipment or tools WILL be arrested under anti-terrorism laws and treated as such."

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Muppets with Badges!

    Gutted... As a long time reader of El Reg and having the pleasure of being Pakistani (hey - I really DID choose my colour and nationality when born...) and with a keen interest in Amateur Photography... I'm already starting to shirk away from the idea of going around snapping...

    I live in Yorkshire (born and bred) and recently have started taking an interest in photographing Churches (I know wtf...) but lots of the Churches here are Masonic and if you look closely ehough - you'll see the signs all over them...

    Being a typical Northerner (northern born, northern bred - strong in the arm - weak in the head) - I'd rather offer em a fight then take my film/camera... *sigh* what fucking freedoms. The pig cunts can have their cameras rigged all over town ( I know a cam operative who used to tell me about all the topless women they've viewed) and yet - I feel intimidated now to not even take an innocent photo of a Church.

    Thatchers puppets can all fk off. (sorry for my profanity but hey - I'm a Yorskhireman!)

  31. Rolf Harris
    Thumb Up

    @ Rik Hemsley

    Do you know, I think that that is exactly what we need. Perhaps the new offence should not just limited to police officers, but to all of the population; there's no reason not to hold other members of the public to the same standard. The punishment could be higher on police officers if they use their status to add extra intimidation.

    Absolutely excellent idea.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    London Bridge

    so how does it work when I'm driving my mates car across london bridge, tower bridge, right around No. 10 Downing Street with my mate (a location manager), hanging out the window taking lots of shots of....urm London.

    shot on sight?

  33. TK

    So much for that holiday destination

    I'm just guessing the police don't often chat with the folks at travel and tourism? I'm not saying our own George W Stalin has done much to make the US inviting as a travel destination, but I used to view England as a place I'd love to return to for a holiday. It sounds like it's getting almost as bad there as it is here.

    I'm just waiting for the day DARPA comes up with the image erasing brain ray to make sure we don't record any mental images as well.

  34. Paul Buxton

    Police Baiting with Cameras is the New Black

    "Where journalists and members of the public come into contact with the police, they are urged always to keep their cool."

    Why is this necessary? Is it because we all know that your average plod has an IQ that a bullfrog would be proud of, can't deal with a reasonable and reasoned argument and when confronted by logic generally just put their "case" forward in a very blunt manner (i.e. "you'll do exactly what the fuck I tell you to do or you're nicked" - and this is a direct quote from a police officer) or simply beat you up (admittedly, I haven't had personal experience of this since the late eighties).

    The problem has been around for a very long time. I do not have any legal qualifications, have never worked in crime prevention but I do have an IQ over 130 and I tend to know more about the law than the people who enforce it.

    In future I'll be sure to ask for a court order and if plod then insists on stealing my equipment I'll have no choice but to perform a citizen's arrest - that should be fun!

    How we laughed for 42 days until the bastards let us out!

    Mine's the one with the high-powered SLR* in the pocket, I'm off to bait some policemen. >:-)

    That's "Single Lens Reflex" and not "Self-Loading Rifle" (just in case the thought police are watching).

  35. Stephen Macken

    It can only end..

    ... in tears. Unfortunately, I cannot see this issue going away or it becoming any easier for photographers. In reality, the level of offical paranoia has gone beyond anything that the general public actually need to feel safe. We are being controlled through fear and the more fear there is the more the state will take away our liberties and make us even more fearful. We have a lot to be fearful of and it's not al Qaeda, it's the erosion of our civil liberties. Who needs al Qaeda to destroy our society when the state can do that fine by themselves.

    We vote these paranoics into power so the only way to ensure the preservation of our democratic rights and freedoms is to vote them out. Lobby your MP and find out where they stand on civil liberties and vote accordingly.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Some common sense please

    Given the wealth of information available on the Internet, a wanna-be terrorist probably wouldn't even need to engage in covert or otherwise photography? Google Earth, Flickr etc have plenty of photographic information about public spaces. But, anyone serious enough would use something like the discreet BBC's Rogue Traders style 'Tie-cam'. They certainly wouldn't be walking around a busy city centre with an SLR camera, calmly looking for the best lighting conditions.

    In the old days, photo developers, like Boots or Supasnaps, used to remove photographs they deemed inappropriate, or would report photographers to the police or social services for anything really nasty (like for example, a photo of your kids in the bath). Of course the advent of digital cameras has completely removed this element of control from the 'system'. I could image a state where a trip to London would result in most of the pictures being replaced with a note saying 'Due to security concerns, blah, blah, blah...'.

    I was in London a few months ago. While most people are oblivious to these heavy handed tactics by police, having read a few articles like this, I am not. I was taking a picture of Big Ben. I wasn't approached or anything, but I was very conscious that I could be, and sadly I was a little paranoid about using my camera. I nearly didn't take the photos, but then thought, sod it, why shouldn't I. It shouldn't be like that.

  37. Roger Lancefield

    Picture this

    "The Met recently ran a campaign that pointed a finger of suspicion at photographers. This cannot help but whip up public fear of anyone with a camera."

    How absurd! These days *everyone* is a photographer! From 8 year olds to 80 year olds, everyone is snapping away with anything from camera phones through to the high-end DSLRs. Christ, you get digital cameras with petrol and in Chirstmas crackers these days. What will they do when wearable video becomes the norm, or when the first 17 megapixel contact lenses become available? "I'm sorry sir, you'll have to hand over your spectacles - and you, that wi-fi exoskeleton with the eight integrated lenses, come, on, get it off!"

    Silly King Cnuts, the lot of 'em.

  38. Steve Davis


    I was in a Mr. Twister last week with one of my grandsons.

    I took a few photo's of him and shortly after was asked by a management representative to stop using the camera as a customer had complained.

    I really can't see the reason for the complaint although the kids there were all quite young, most had an adult with them and all were fully clothed.

    Getting beyond a joke. Worse that the complainant felt it necessary to involve the management (who were clearly complying because they had to, rather than they felt that it was a warranted complaint) rather than ask me personally.

    The one with "Paedophile" written accross the shoulders.

  39. Mark

    "private property"

    "though not on private property (which kinda puts the guy "apprehended" in Boots in a sticky, though not illegal, position)."

    Well, Boots is a public place insofar as until you're told to leave, you are there legally.

    Remember, you can always (if Boots et al want to be a PITA) demand that they remove pictures of you, since they must have permission to take pictures of your likeness.

    It's just as legally enforceable as their demand you don't take pictures.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police Harassment

    Have a look at darren pollards videos on police harassment. He is a bit paranoid but it is an eye opener

  41. Wonderkid

    This happened to me - twice!

    1) I was on King's Road in London on a lovely sunny day at a cafe with my mother. After our coffee, I stood up and took some photos of the scene - buildings with people in front of them, etc etc. Same thing I have done for over 30 years. All as a hobby and chances are, a good portion would be erased (I was using a digital SLR.) To my shock and horror I was approached by not one, but TWO, I don't know what to call them, but council people or something in orange jackets - one of whome was not even British. He asked me NOT to take any more photos and what I was doing. I was so shocked (this is a public space, NOT GCHQ) and don't recall what I said, but he claimed there were lots of celebs in the area and it was illegal to photograph them. Huh? (I was not using a zoom and was not dressed like the paparatzi.) I refused to erase the pictures and walked away. (As I hope others will do in such circumstances.)

    2) I was in Chiswick and taking photos of small businesses as part of my own web design work. A policeman came up to me and asked what I was doing and after lengthy explanation, made me sign a form and gave me a receipt to say I had been checked out and all was ok. (Across the street, a person of colour with a camera was ALSO being quizzed by the police.) The explanation given on this occasion was that I was being asked for politicallty correct reasons. IE, I am white and so out of fairness to the person across the street, they had to find someone else taking photos too so he didn't feel embarassed. And in a way, I understand. I was close to the tube station (NOT photographing it), but they may have had a point, but the issue is, all of this (and more crazy laws) are making living in this country stressful, confusing and in a way, pointless. If this 'war on terror' is to go on for 50 years (as claimed by Bush and Blair a while back), then it may be best we all leave and come back when it's over? Else what exactly are we defending?

  42. Glyn


    Surely they can be charged with wasting police (i.e. their own) time

  43. Matthew

    Case for slander

    Isn't the statement 'taking photographs of young people' (implying peadophilia) slanderous?

    How aweful in this Daily Mail - Daily Rage day.

  44. Steve Foster

    Humberside Police

    Anyone who finds themselves in the vicinity of the HQ of Humberside Police should conspicuously take pictures of the building and a few rozzers coming and going. Just make sure you're not with anyone else doing the same (or you'll be treated as an unauthorised protest).

    If enough people do so, often enough, they'll get the message.

  45. IHateWearingATie

    Makes me want....

    ... to go to Hull town centre with my camera and start taking photos hoping to get hassled so I can give them a talking to!

    This kind of stuff really annoys me - the Police do a really difficult and thankless task and this kind of crap done by a few badly reflects on thew decent majority.

    PS Not a cop, but my Dad was and says the same thing!

  46. Elmer Phud

    SCCs and terrorism training

    First off -- there are loads of cameras with networking capabilities so have the camera regularly dump pics to your SCC*.

    Secondly -- it now appears my daughter is not off to Uni to study photography but off to a terrorists training camp.

    *you should know what that means by now.

  47. Graham Marsden

    Vicious officialdom...

    This is just another example of the "Do as we say" attitude which is pervading this country in the guise of "protecting our freedoms" as those with even a little bit of power follow the example of our Political Leaders in seeming to think that it is their duty to control every aspect of our lives.

    Of course what they are actually doing is *threatening* our freedoms, but try explaining that to them...

  48. Steve

    Not just the British police

    Last year while driving across the border from Switzerland into Italy I had a video camera mounted on the dashboard which was recording. Normally I switch it off going through customs checkpoints since they can get a bit funny about it, but this particular checkpoint was a good couple of miles inside Italy. He first tried asking for a bribe, in English, but when no cigarettes appeared his English skills deteriorated and he insisted on making me rewind and erase the section in which he appeared.

    Whether he wanted to enforce a law prohibiting filming of police officers or official buildings, or just to make sure he couldn't be seen/heard asking for cigarettes is another question...


  49. Dave Bell

    Austin Mitchell?

    OK, he has a decent reputation locally, and he's well-known as a serious amateur photographer, just the sort of person who it likely to get hassled because he's not an NUJ member and is using an expensive camera.

    But I really wish he hadn't voted for 42-day detention without charge, using the ridiculous excuse that he did.

    Thanks for everything else, Austin, but can I trust you after that?

  50. Bobby
    Thumb Up

    Good for the police

    personally, I think someone trying to take a picture of the dead woman at London Bridge deserves an old-fashioned police-kicking, rather than just being intimidated

  51. Richard

    How to deal with Police that make the law up

    1. Ask the Police officer to clarify which section of the law you have violated. They won't be able to do this, or they radio through to headquarters and get told its not illegal, and quietly skulk off to the line "just don't do it again". If you get the same answer "it is illegal", tell them that unless they can specify what section it violates, they are clearly just making it up and you have no crime to answer for.

    2. Do not hand over film or memory cards just like that. Under no circumstances are the police permitted to seize any property without a court order or search warrant. The Terror act doesn't apply unless they can prove you are doing something contributing to terrorism.

    3. If they say you are filiming sensitive buildings, ask for clarification. Photography of buildings is not illegal by any stretch, however you can extend a gesture of goodwill by offering to delete the photos in question if they are not that important to you. At the end of the day however, the decision is yours and they can't do anything even if you are photographing MI6.

    4. If they say you are photographing children, remind them this is not illegal unless the children are in some sort of pornographic pose, which in a town centre is unlikely. Unless a parent (or indeed child) has made a specific complaint, the Police are powerless.

    5. If in the event you arrested for failing to comply, behave calmly and co-operatively. When you are presented to the cop shop, remind the officers there you have been arrested illegaly for a non-existent crime, and demand (politely, but firmly) that the law is checked there and then. Make sure the arresting officers stay present to hear the outcome of this. When you are let go, request that the officers are dealt with in respect to false arrests.

    6. If your property is seized without your consent, go to your local court and request and fill in a statutory declaration. This is a form that declares that your property was taken without court order or search warrant for no good reason and that no crime has been comitted. The court will normally get a judge to sign this off very quickly. Present it to the cop shop where your property is being held illegaly, and they will be forced to return it.

    You have rights - despite what the government and police would like you to think.

    -- Richard

  52. André

    Re: Idea

    Making police officers carry responsibility for their actions would obviously be the right thing in a civilized society, but don't hold your breath: It Ain't Gonna Happen.

    And BTW: in my country of residence (Italy) it is forbidden to take photographs (or video footage) of public officials if their faces would be recognizeable - and that includes cops, and even firemen and ambulancemen. To be on the safe side, you just totally abstain from having any uniforms in your viewfinder, ever, unless you're a professional photojournalist or camera operator. But, I haven't had any grief from the police for taking photographs so far.

    Some random members of the public however, tend to believe that one cannot take photographs in public **with a SLR** (as opposed to cellphones and point-and-shoot cameras)...

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fear and paranoia

    "However, since the London bombings of 2005, there is a new impetus to paranoia. *** The public is scared.*** The police have responded."

    Yeah, go on, keep telling us we're scared. Eventually we might even believe it.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Duh -Cameras are Big Black Thingys

    A stroll through the Akihabura District of Tokyo will enlighten dumbass plods. Any terrorist worth their salt could buy a very high-quality, *very* discreet camera, and mount it in their chav-topper.

    Anybody with pro gear is someone who takes photography seriously (but that applies to paparazzi and pornographers, as well). They are photographing for the love of photography -not for documentation. Only professional and above-board photographers use pro gear for documentation; not people who want to hide things.

    They'd be better off stopping rubbernecking chavs, and asking them to remove their caps.

  55. Terence Eden

    Upload before they can take the film

    If you're using a cameraphone, use something like Shozu or ShareOnline. Once the photo has been taken it can (automatically) be uploaded to flickr or several other services.

    ISTR some high end cameras have wifi / 3G to facilitate this.

  56. Guy Herbert

    So why no prosecution?

    Of the officers concerned for obtaining property by deception and/or threatening behaviour, that is. The most worrying thing about all this is not the stupidity of the panic - there are plenty of stupid panics - but the tacit assumption that any spod in an official uniform may exercise whatever powers his imagination grants him with impunity.

  57. Mei Lewis
    Thumb Up

    We need photographers and other jounralists to watch the watchmen!

    The article is great, and I've read similar pro-photography stories in other places, mainly photography sites. They tend to the line that photography is not illegal, there's nothing wrong with and it's a right we don't want to lose, all of which is true, but relates mainly to photographers' interests.

    But the issue is far larger than that. I think someone needs to make the point that the public and media being allowed to record the events of the country and world is a vital check on the power of the police, government and authorities generally.

    We (the general public) need to know when they do something we might disagree with or which is outright wrong or illegal. The Rodney King beating in America are an obvious example, and the West putting observers in certain countries to monitor arms or elections is the same sort of thing.

    And we need more than just 'professional journalists' as is hinted at towards the end of the article. If the barriers to entry are too high, or if it's the authorities who decide who gets to report on the authorities it won't work.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Terrorists != photographers

    There was an excellent piece by security guru Bruce Schneier recently on the supposed use of photography for terrorists:

    "The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography."

  59. Squits
    Thumb Up

    Another well written article

    I'm beginning to like this style of writing :)

    I especially love that one piece of information.


  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who exactly do you think runs the country now days? Hint, The Sun & The Plod.

  61. Ian
    Black Helicopters


    There was an interesting twist on this a few years back following the attempts and threats to shoot down airliners with man-portable missiles. A lot of airports started chasing away planespotters from within a mile or so of the runway because they might be planning on shooting aircraft. With a camera, presumably. They've now relented, realising that there is a bit of a difference between a Strela missile launcher and a SLR camera - even with an elephant gun lens to count the rivits on the left aileron.

    Fear of nothing is a wonderful way of controlling people, isn't it?

    Black helicopter warning because you wouldn't want to get caught trying to photograph one...

  62. Anonymous Coward


    I'm fairly sure that even in the case of taking pix of kids for alleged dubious purposes, they have to show intent before they seize goods, get a search warrant etc. "Acting Suspicious" doesn't count, its not a crime...

    Meanwhile, people should stand firm. In a public place you certainly don't need permission to take photos and any copper claiming otherwise is talking nonsense (or other individual, parkies, school teachers, beach lifeguards - yes, I've seen them all) . A simple "I'm sorry but can you please write down what law I'm breaking, so that I know for future reference? And could you just add your name & badge number? " should suffice.

  63. Steve


    "The fact that these incidents make news suggests that they are atypical. There are still millions of people taking photographs every day of the week, without the least interference from anyone."

    Try and take a picture of a demonstration - or more particularly, the police handling of a demonstration. Unless you're very clearly part of the mainstream media, photographers/observers are treated as being part of the demo.

    The Forward Intelligence Team go around taking pictures and building up files on activists but people have been told that taking pictures of the police counts as harassing them! They do not want any record of events that they can't control.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the only kind of bullying

    A few years ago my wife was cut up by a police man in a van. Instead of apologising, he pulled us over and told us "I'm not going to nick you today but....". Soon changed his tune when I told him I knew his Inspector.

    Customs tried it too when they tried to stop people brining in alcohol, despite several court rulings against them.

    I know there are good Old Bill out there but this needs to be stomped on ASAP.

  65. Eponymous Cowherd

    Re:You can't even photograph buses in peace now...

    That's nothing new....

    I had a colleague who was an ardent bus spotter (IIRC, they call themselves 'gricers'). I found this out one day as he was driving me to catch a train. Suddenly he exclaims "Fuck me, its a type 53 Routemaster" (or something like it) and takes off after this bloody bus. He swerved in front of it to stop it pulling out of the bus stop, jumped out of the car, and started taking photos of the damn thing. I slid as low in my seat as possible.

    When I got to work the next day the boss noticed my slightly wild-eyed appearance and asked if I was OK. "Nigel? Bus? Camera?" I spluttered. "Ah", says the boss, "you wouldn't think it to look at him, would you".......

    Anyway, we had a call from the MOD Police one day (this was way back in 1991, during the first Gulf War). They wanted to know if we could vouch for this bloke they had caught taking pictures outside of Portsmouth Naval dockyard:-

    "Do you have a Nigel ******* working for you"?

    "Err, yes"

    "Can you tell me about his, er, hobby"?

    (at this point I should have said something like "Oh, you mean the spying" to get revenge for the bus-chase-from-hell, but didn't think quickly enough, instead:)

    "Oh, buses".

    "Can you be more specific"?

    "He goes out during lunchtime and photographs buses".

    That seemed to satisfy them, and they let him go, but his bus-chasing ardour was somewhat less fervent after that episode.

  66. George Johnson

    Sick of this Phantom Terrorist BS!

    I used to go out and take photogrpaphs of the London underground system, I got permission from LT to do this and I had to sign in at every station before taking my shots. I stopped around 2003 because I was getting so many nasty looks from people and tube workers, even got a mouthful of abuse from a driver once.

    I had to stop a very enjoyable hobby, simply due to paranoia of people who believe the BS that the government pump out about these so called phantom terrorists.

    I now content myself with simply going out into the countryside and taking pictures of trees, mud and wild flowers, but I'm still waiting for the day Plod taps me on the shoulder , in the middle of nowhere, demanding my SD cards from me!

  67. Martin Winchester
    Black Helicopters

    There is a funny side... honest...

    As a keen amature photographer of dubious talent im lucky only ever to have been stopped twice.

    The first was talking a picture of a shop front in a shopping centre in Preston, "Sorry Sir, this private property, no photography allowed..." fair enough says I and put the camera away...

    The second time was photograhing the architecture at Sellafield... ok not perhaps the best idea in the world... but it did end up being rather amusing... PC Plod walks over to us trying to look as intimidating as possible...

    "You do realise Sir that taking photographs in the current political climate is inadvisable..."

    "I just what some shots of the cold war architecture...."

    "Thats as maybe Sir, but taking photographs in the current political climate is inadvisable..."

    Its at this point that his mobile goes off... quite why he was so embarressed about having the theme to Miami Vice as his ring tone i'll never know, but any pretence at authority ran away screaming...

    "IM BUSY....!"

    At this point we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and headed of smiling for the visitors centre...

    Black helicopters beacause we were followed for the rest of the day...


  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a working photographer...

    Most of the jobsworth types who bother photographers this way don't have a clue about the law themselves. You know this as they come up with these ridiculous reasons for bothering you. As such I intend to make my own license to photograph. It will look official and be printed on official looking card using my ink jet printer. In small print it will say "Issued by" and then my company name. When they say "Do you have a license?" I will simply say yes and present it to them. Since there is no law that says you have to have a license there is no law that you have to have a license issued by anyone in particular. Hence I have presented a valid document and they can bog off and bother someone else. If they claim the license is not valid I will tell them it very much is valid and I will ask them if they want to go to court and argue it but my bet is 99.9% will not even question it.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another nail in the coffin...

    of Free Speech. We should all be worried about this as it seems taking a photo is now terrorist related until proven not to be. This is all very worrying as we progress towards a country in which we must all go around with gags and blinkers just in case we just happen to be a 1 in a billion terrorist. Instead of complainaing about Mugabe perhaps we should be looking more at our own Country as we head towards what is not going to be too disimilar to Zimbabwe ,if we are not careful (although of course Zimababwe is much worse).

  70. Bryce Prewitt
    Thumb Down

    Police? Who think they are above the law? Never!

    Film at 11.

  71. ImaGnuber

    Been good to know ya

    Bye bye Britain. You were once a great nation.

  72. Secretgeek

    @'Contact your MP'

    Any chance you could provide an example of the letter you sent or those that you received?

  73. Anonymous Coward

    Austin Mitchell

    Isn't Hull's MP the dangerous subversive that was taking pictures of non-existant queues at the Labour conference (there are no queues in New Britain).

  74. Anonymous Coward

    @Are Photographers really a threat?

    For sure, we are all threats.

    Obvious innit.

    Mines the one Nomex Summer Jacket with the molotov in the inside pocket ...

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Rob Crawford

    I cannot say that I'm particulary unhappy to leave Canary Wharf shortly and, more importantly, not to meat those Wharf Securitards again. Some of these even need a guide dog because they would get lost otherwise.

    But it never failed to make me smilie to see who those Securitards operating the check points. Btw, I might just go and take some pictures of the check points - how will they react*? Now that must be fun!


    *technically, they could ban me from the area but nothing else. And then again, I still work here.

  76. Matt

    Another thought:

    I took loads of pictures in China and even Tieneman (spelling?) square. I was only once asked politely, not to take close pictures of soldiers faces.

    I have also taken loads of photos in Moscow without being stopped.

    Strange how the times have changed........

  77. Mark


    re. "it's completely legal to photograph anything or anyone in public - though not on private property (which kinda puts the guy "apprehended" in Boots in a sticky, though not illegal, position)"

    If you're on private property and take photographs when you have been asked not you, you are trespassing even if you were invited onto the property in the first place. If the shop has a 'no photography' sign, he's free to enter but trespasses when taking the photo.

    Trespass is not a criminal act, although you can be sued for damages. The damages of taking a photo can't be very high though - can they?

  78. Mark

    Re: How far can you go?

    All the frigging way.

    One of the reasons why the police go after the generally law abiding public rather than the criminals is because the generally law abiding public won't be ready willing and able to give the police officer a right good kicking. After all, if you're already guilty and you know it, what's the damage attempting another crime? And square that with the chance of getting away because the officer is lying in a ball, squealing about how their man-puds are in their sternum and therefore getting away with BOTH crimes, you can see how this is much less appropriate.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and people keep saying how all the new laws (extreme porn, lolicon hentai, 42 days and the scots new anti text law) are all going to be well handled and not at all used to ---k people over...

  80. M Anton
    Thumb Down

    'Special' as in special needs

    As a keen amateur photographer I've had a couple of 'discussions' with specialcommunitysupportjobsworths.

    A lot of this unfortunately boils down to people either on their on little power trip, or being woefully out of their depth on stuff they should know as part of their job.

    You'd like to think common sense would prevail but unfortunately we're lumbered with this nanny state mentality which is allegedly for "our own good".

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    Vote for the Miss Great Britain Party. We all know their views on being photographed.

  82. Highlander

    This is how freedom dies

    Freedom doesn't die with a terrorist plot. Freedom doesn't die with invasion.

    Freedom dies when our own government takes it from us. Freedom dies when we give it away because we're too afraid to say 'No, stop.". Freedom dies when our neighbors are so shit scared that they'll report anything unusual to the police, and the police listen.

    Freedom appears to be barely hanging on in ICU right now, both in the UK and the US.

    Sadly the irony of this bullcrap will be lost on the low-brown morons running the show. Does anyone remember the oft used truism, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it (more accurately : "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it")? It certainly seems to be an apt statement right now.

    I'm old enough to remember when we used to get news stories about tourists who'd been stopped in foreign countries (typically countries that had a more authoritarian or totalitarian view on government power than our own). Tourists who'd been stopped for simply taking photographs. There used to be outrage. Diplomatic controversy. Questions in the house, etc.... Now though, it's our own government, our own police, our own citizens, who stoop to these new lows in restricting basic freedoms.

    Oh, but the sheeple will go along with it if the police or government allude to terrorist plots or cry about protecting the children. What a bunch of crap. If they really want to prevent terrorism, then they should encourage photographers in our FREE societies. If they want to protect children they should look to the freedoms of the society the children are growing up in, and target the sick criminals who commit crimes against kids, rather than parents or other innocent people simply taking harmless pictures.

    It sure seems that if the objective of the terrorists was to destroy our free societies, our governments are complicit in that destruction.

    Mine's the one in Missouri with the military grade bunker under the house, half a dozen 10 mega pixel SLRs with long lenses and a 6 month supply of food, water, memory cards and ammunition.

  83. Anonymous Coward


    Of course PCSO's are "people either on their on little power trip" - why else would anyone want to be one?

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    We Brits love this stuff..

    This is just a more insideous version of curtain twitching, ever since the war when folk were warned to look out for 5th columnists etc busy bodyism has gone made. It's a national pastime now, with full Government support.

    On a professional level I come into a contact with people who work for Local Authorities and have very basic low level powers - for example neighbourhood wardens or, they get to wear a high viz jacket and feel 'official' but have zero powers. Basically they are bored and want to make their jobs more interesting by pretending to be doing something valuable. PCSO's are the same. Generally they are decent folk who never made it as prefects at school and now want payback so wander around playing at Sweeny (they are useful if you are lost however).

    The easiest way for such officials to do this is to deploy 'witchcraft finding technology' similar to the 1600's - i.e use accusations that make 'jo public' unsure of their rights and not wanting to be seen to be either as a perv or a subversive (paedophilia/terrorism) or just odd.

    I agree with everyone who is challenging this nonsense at every level of our daily lives. It allows officials to waste time, bully, create confusion and it diverts from the real issues we have in society.

    Fight back!!

  85. Steve Evans


    Film? What is this film you speak of granddad?

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @since when

    "does hull have sensitive buildings? Or are hotels full of hookers classed as sensitive now?..."

    Since the Brothels are probably full of Police and local politicians, I'm not surprised they classify them as sensitive places...

    Paris because she's sensitive, too.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the police are hypocrites ,look at this....

    So seems taking photos AND posting them on internet is fine FOR THEM

    More scummy police officers.

  88. John F***ing Stepp

    Add a bit of truth to the mix.

    Well, damn.

    Okay, I admit it if no one else here will.

    Taking a photograph of someone will steal their soul.

    (GWB, you satanic bastard, you have messed up everyone's head.)

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Police education required

    I once took a photo of a crime scene in full view of a guarding police officer (well after the crime had actually happened) without attempting to disguise my intentions, and the officer came over to me and asked what I was doing.

    Despite my perfectly valid reason ('just interested') he wanted me to delete the picture I had just taken (something along the lines of 'possible prejudice of a future trial'), so in order to be polite and not wanting to see the inside of a police car I complied, but it was a crap photo anyway and if I had been determined enough I could have taken several photos at once and only showed him the last one, or sent copies via Bluetooth or wi-fi as others have suggested.

    PC Plod really needs to go back to school when it comes to photography!

    Black helicopter because they're watching us...

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm 'gobsmacked'

    While law abiding citizens would, when reasonably challenged by the officers of the law, comply with a sensible and lawful request this is utter nonsense! There is a time and a place for both the request outlined and the support of the officers by their commander - but this is not it. I can only hope the officers received a fulsome - behind the scenes - piece of "advice and guidance" however I suspect not.

    Does this now mean that, for example, if I'm up Fylingdales way doing a bit of wildlife photography and I inadvertantly catch a shot of the golfballs I can be hauled off to klink when the photos are processed - for that is the next step. (Ok, Ok, an exageration to make a point!)

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for the.

  91. Steve

    @Steve Davis

    I have no idea what a 'Mr Twister' is - some sort of kids play area? At a leisure place near here they ban cameras in case someone takes photos of kids unless you have written consent from every parent in the place, and must provide proof of address and other personal information in case of future complaints. However, if you want photos, their photographer will take them for you and you can buy prints at a whopping fee... Clearly a lucrative thing to be able to ban something on dubious legal grounds while charging to do the same thing themselves...


  92. TimM
    Black Helicopters

    It's 1984

    Doesn't help when despite the basic rights for photographers to be able to take photos in public places in the UK without restraint (with some small exceptions), the government encouraged the shopping of suspicious photographers *in public* after 7/7, even though there's nothing illegal about it (yet).

    Rule by fear and panic, encourage citizens to report on their fellow citizens. 1984 anyone?

    Worse is in theory the police now have the right to lock up a photographer for 42 days without charge just because they can judge them to be suspicious, even though they haven't broken any laws. Just taking a photo of a gov building would be enough.

    At least in our world, Big Brother is a pile of crap TV show.

  93. John Sturdy
    Black Helicopters

    Photographic memory

    The one that bemuses me is "No photography in security area" in airports. If I were ever on a journey that I wanted an excuse to get out of, I'd be tempted to say to the supervisor "I've got a good memory. Do I have to go through with my eyes closed?"

  94. Rob Crawford

    I'm also glad to have left Canary Wharf

    I'm 9 months away from Canary Wharf and it took me to be back in Belfast to realise how oppressive London (so called) security is.

    It's not terribly effective, just oppressive and pointless (staff are often aggressive into the bargin.)

    eg. no waste bins in the city of London, what does that serve ?

    1 : Bombers are perfectly happy just to set down a carrier bag, rucksack or box between parked cars or in the middle of the pavement and walk away.

    2: Suicide bombers detonate bombs while carrying them.

    3: Explosive filled bicycle frame (et la Warrington.) Have you ever seen a bicycle being searched or the police even stop a cyclist (I wish they would stop the fuc**rs that ride on the pavement & through red lights)

    All we see is pointless decisions that make no difference, but allegedly inspire public confidence (yeah right)

    Why are so many of these security people afraid of learning from events which have already occured ?

    Oh for the bin solution why not :

    Instead of removing the bins, just make the openings a suitable size to prevent large objects from being put into them, with a weakened top joint so any blast from a smaller object would be directed straight up.

  95. Alfazed

    suspicious activities

    I suppose Google Earth photos are enraging the local Humberside rozzers no end.

    Anyone up for a flash mob or two in the Humberside area ?

    There are some interesting buildings, apparently.


  96. Derry Thompson

    On the other hand..

    Twice I've been asked to stop taking pictures in London. Once by a private citizen who told me it was against the law to take pictures of buildings! I told her she was mistaken and carried on. The second time was by a police officer at Earls Court station. She said it was due to "anti-terrorism law". I stopped as I'd already got the shots I wanted.

    Of course if they do ask you to remove the pictures you could always delete the images while the Old Bill are looking over your shoulder and then run an "undelete" program on your card when you get back home. ;).

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's worrisome being a tourist

    I like to visit other countries here and there, heck I would like to visit other states within my own country. This whole camera & photo seizure madness I keep reading about is very discouraging, and could severely affect my appreciation for the places I'm visiting if I find myself so mistreated.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    going off topic here

    It never seizes to amaze me how a simple camel-shagger in his tent in a desert, thousands of miles away can have such an influence on us over here.

    Maybe we should do the same in reverse. We keep on making threats that we'll invade them to take their oil if they don't lower their prices....

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting occurance ..

    I took photos of the security cameras near my abode. Next day and for 24 hours, the police had the whole area blocked off and took the details of everyone entering and leaving the area. Curiously enough this did nothing to disuade the local crack addics and whores from plying their trade. Right under the noses of the cameras. At least three of which are trained on my building.

  100. Anonymous Coward

    “what are you doing, sir?”

    “Minding my own fucking business, twat, and I advise you to do the same.”

    Photography has been legal in this country since the 1830's.

    Fuck them. I'll see them in court.

    When are people going to GROW A FUCKING PAIR and stand up to these cretins?

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some thoughts

    1. So much for all those tourist snaps in front of Big Ben and Westminster. "I'm sorry missus, but we'll be needing to impound your Nikon and send your two whelps to the workhouse because you were taking pictures in front of the seat of government"

    2. Can I go down to the local police station and tell them that I need to impound their CCTV photography because it caught me in a particularly disheveled state, thereby harming my self-esteem, social standing and employment prospects. Can I go further and argue that CCTV images are stealing my soul? Perhaps if I argue the latter and wave a Koran in their face they will produce the last 3 years of CCTV records for my neighborhood.

  102. Wotan Son of Tharg

    Surveillance mentality

    I am shocked you would even publish this article knowing terrorists are on the lookout for evidence of how we protect our society. People don't take photographs just for fun you know they have a reason and the police are within their rights to ask how they have the time when they should be elsewhere. Besides, only terrorists would spend so much money on an SLR, so that's pretty clear evidence of guilt.

    But they need to go much further to protect us. We need every form of surveillance available. They need to install CCTV and recording equipment on every street corner and in every room in every home. I for one wish they would install them in the countryside too. There is a lot going on out there that is not being watched closely enough. What are those people watching on TV and listening to on the radio, what are they saying in the pubs and why are they laughing like that...?

    We should praise all those who watch us and those who watch the watchers. They are doing all this surveillance stuff in my name and in the names of so many other innocent UK citizens to make our lives safe from tyranny and repression. If the terrorists won they would make us live in a surveillance state, everyone reporting on everyone else. Do you want to live in a country like that, because I don't.

    But all this surveillance stuff is really expensive so we need to think of cost saving ways of doing it. When I visit the US I hope the UK authorities ensure my fingerprints and photograph, as well as everyone else's, are passed back to the security services of the UK for inclusion in our national register. It would save so much time and trouble rather than seeking Parliamentary approval to collect such data. Why stop there? I also hope the government realises just how much money and paperwork can be saved by asking the security service's of other nations to record my phone calls, indeed everyone's phone calls. Having to fill in a load of paperwork and get warrants must be such a pain when they have such an important job tracking down terrorists and those who would challenge the freedoms laid down in Magna Carta. Terrorists you see don't appreciate Magna Carta because it is such an old bit of parchment. It's all out of date these days.

    Lets encourage the authorities to introduce national ID cards as quickly as possible. During the second world war ID cards were such a help as it allowed the Germans to identify French resistance fighters because each of their cards had 'RESISTANCE FIGHTER' written in big letters on it. Today we could print 'TERRORIST' on the card making ID cards such an easy way for the police to know the holders intention.

    Finally, we need to make sure there is no hiding place for terrorists and for that reason we have to encourage those who protect us to monitor MP's as well even if they tell the MP's it against some rule or other. After all, imagine what would happen if the MP's started to meet in corners and planned to defeat these surveillance measures. That would make them no better than terrorists plotting to overthrow the will of the people.

    So that's why asking people why they are taking photographs of buildings is so necessary.

  103. Graham Anderson

    photography *not* banned at Canary Wharf

    Living close to CW, and having seen the plastic police harrassing photographers myself, I thought I would look at the Canary Wharf website to see if there was a list of the dos and don't of the estate - it being private property and all that. I was hoping they might have them on the web as I certainly have never seen a sign with them listed on the estate itself. has no information about what is and isn't allowed on its private land - no information even of the fact that you will be stopped by their plastic police and inexpertly swabbed for explosives if you drive in.

    Google however provided this gem from a Flickr user questioning the CW Estate Security Manager on this very topic:

    [snip] "Photography is not banned on the Estate and therefore there are no signs advising of its prohibition. However, professional photography is only permitted with our permission and when granted, a permit is issued. Amateur photography is welcomed but, in the light of the current extremely high threat from terrorism, photographers may be questioned by security staff. Once satisfied with their legitimacy, security personnel will permit the photography to continue and I am very disappointed at your comments about the threats to confiscate the memory card or delete the photos. " [snip]

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deleting the pictures, yeah, that'll fix it.

    Not to reiterate the point that this is blindingly stupid, but in all of these incidents where the police "force" people to delete all the pictures and then let them go on their way there's a small problem; they are deleting pictures with the camera's built-in functionality. They're not crushing the memory cards and grinding them into dust. They're not over-writing the data will military spec erasing techniques.

    They're simply asking the camera to delete the picture.

    And on my camera, which uses an SD memory card formatted to FAT32, that means that it does what FAT32 does and blanks the first entry of the file name in the directory table. It is completely recoverable - well as long as you're not flummoxed when prompted to complete the file name of the picture file ?ICT0001.JPG...

    And frankly... if you're going to arrest someone in Boots for taking pictures that may or may not be for terrorist causes then, really, why didn't they just cough up the money and have the film run through their 1 hour processing thingy. You are standing in Boots after all.

    *flick* *flick* *flick*



    *hand back*

    "Oh, okay, well I guess you weren't taking any dodgy pictures.

    Err glad we could help get your order developed in 10 minutes there, Sir.

    Have a nice day."


  105. andy
    Thumb Down


    "As for the peeeedo concern, I can understand it's at least distasteful to think that someone's taken pics of your kids in public for sexual gratification, but I'm not sure what harm it does anyone."

    Try taking pictures of my kids for sexual gratification and while you're on the floor catching my boot you can think about who's getting harmed...

  106. Old Man - Grey Fleece

    Behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace

    This needs stamping on - in due course (following the American pattern as we seem destined to do) somebody will film the police acting outside the law and post it on the web. Next step is a riot (think "Rodney King") so a determined police crackdown on photographers will prevent a riot. Nothing like preventive policing </end sarcasm>

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A scapegoat

    Lots of people complaining about their privacy from individuals taking photographs, yet the store, council, police, tv, everyone TAKING VIDEOS.... to me this is the classic deflection. People feel pissed off at their lack of privacy and see this as the little bit of privacy they can hold on to. A scapegoat to make their point perhaps?

  108. CrackedButter
    Thumb Up

    The best solution is to never stand down.

    The best solution is to keep getting stopped over and over again surely we can outlast plod with this issue and they will tire and find something else to do. If we stop our photography then they've won.

    I got stopped last week by a city centre ranger in Swansea. As soon as I was stopped I went on the attack right away and the poor chap wasn't prepared for it at all. I explained my rights he explained I needed to get everybody's consent who I had fit into the frame. I told him that wasn't likely and I voluntarily showed him my pictures to be kind since I was on a rage and volunteered my contact information (business card) and he said he would check with his superiors since I needed a license to photograph in a public. I explained how my tax's paid for this public space I've never been phoned anyway.

    Don't stand down, also its classed as assault to have your images forcibly deleted from your camera.

    Thumbs up for the positive energy I'm hoping to give off.

  109. Tim


    I read this and was really surprised, not by the fact the police stole the mans film but there were police officers in Hull City Centre. I work in the City Centre and only ever see the pretend police, who as far as I can tell have no real powers.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Regarding the Hull case

    The original story was broken by Hull Daily Mail and on BBC Look North when the 2 noddies, sorry PCSOs took this poor blokes films, which were eventually returned to him, they had followed him approximately 3/4 of a mile before challenging him and impounding his films. The gentleman in question was not using a DSLR but a Leica rangefinder and was in Boots to get the films developed using their 1 hour service. The photographer had been taking candids from eyelevel but had been seen by the people passing who kept looking at him and spoiling his shots, this lead to him holding his camera ar waist level to get the candid shots he wanted. The musclebrained idiots posing as PCSO's rather than asking him about his hobby and establishing what was going on took the usual action of a moron in a new uniform and came down on him like a ton of bricks.

    Look North, when following up this story, were then told, in a damage limitation exercise, further lies by Humberside Police who stated they could have siezed the camera under common law. This lead to an online and telephone discussion between myself and the producer of Look North which resulted in him agreeing to seek legal clarification in future cases rather than accepting a Police cover up.

    Remember if visiting North East Lincolshire and East Yorkshire, Humberside Police, No1 for speed camera's, No1 for ignorance of the law, No1 for issueing crime numbers & No 1 for crappest police force in the UK, as official stated by HM Inspector of Police.

    Black helicopter and anonymous for obvious reasons

  111. Anonymous Coward

    US exports meth-heads to keep English cops busy.

    AC in Humberside wrote: "The force is so desperate to look like they're doing something that they make up easy crimes, instead of dealing with the hard ones."

    I almost envy you. Here in the US we've got so much crime that the cops are so busy with crack-heads and gangs and car-jackings and murderers and busting meth labs and the like, the cops don't have any time/energy left over to hassle the rest of us...

    So, once *all* of England finally gets completely taken over by meth users and crackheads (it's coming! just a matter of time! we're here to help!) who have to *steal* everything that isn't bolted down to support their habits, then the cops will be too busy to bother you anymore - and they will probably also become much meaner. Of course, you'll have to install some top-notch security systems in your home and car, and brush up on your martial arts skills to ward off the scum who try to steal from you...

    BTW don't believe the statistics you hear sometimes about U.S. crime being less now, it isn't, it's just that people get too discouraged to even bother reporting it anymore (like *that* does any good) and the stats only show *reported* crime.

  112. Simon

    Just like in North Korea!

    Comrade Stalin would approve of these measures.

  113. Mark


    unless you catch david choking the chicken there and then or standing on dustbins to take a snap of them in the nuddy, how do you know it is for sexual gratification?

    Also, when it comes down to it, if your answer to "who does it hurt" is "someone will commit a crime" that isn't actually answering the question, is it. Might as well say that not having all the nice stuff in the shops causes someone to rob it, so stores should give way all their stuff. Silly and not really answering the question of "what harm".

    Look up non-sequitor.

    PS if I saw you kicking the shit out of someone I'd break your legs and cut off at least one of your thumbs.

  114. C. P. Cosgrove

    At last - I'm a terrorist !

    Once upon a few years ago, I was the Secretary of the local camera club, and the whole membership went to a certain refinery in a Northern Country to take photos by night for a Club competition. Since it's the only refinery in a certain Northern Country, I am reasonably certain it's the same one as in the comment above !

    Not only does this make me a terrorist, but another 30 or so people of generally harmless and inoffensive natures.

    PS I still have the negatives, and am open to offer I this was a few years ago ) !

    Chris Cosgrove

  115. Ivan Headache


    You're one of the reasons this stupid state of affairs has come about.

  116. David
    Thumb Down

    al Qaeda has a front company

    al Qaeda created a company called Google to photograph the world and get away with it. Once they have the photos, they are planning on folding up Google as it will no longer be useful.

    The police need to arrest everyone at Google because they are terrorists.

    Go the Police and don't forget that half the public are terrorists too, they have cameras in their cellphones.

    This is not paranoia, just prevention.

  117. Keith T

    I suggest photographers set up a sting on police.

    I suggest photographers set up a sting on police.

    Have the bait photographer wearing an audio transmitter, and a team of other photographers recording the scene.

    Post the results on the internet.

    Worldwide, the press should run more stings on police. It seems the only video showing police misbehaviour is photography done by the general public.

    But I suppose the ability to do their jobs, means crime journalists and photographers must curry favor with police.

  118. Tim


    but millions of "authorised" public cameras taking pictures of who knows what is OK whereas one or two private citizens are a menace.

    they didn't need to ban free speech - I'm speechless enough already.

  119. Anonymous Coward

    No longer a Gradual Erosion..........

    I have increasingly very little time for our law enforcement agencies and very unsympathetic to their seemingly bazaar conception of the law which appears to be pyramidal in structure. As far as the Police are concerned the major criminal elements lie at the base of this edifice. Why then are they directed to the pinnacle and work downwards from the geeks, passive photographers, pensioners and anoraks. The answer is simple, much like their instructed mentality. An easy pinch with little or no objection. Keeps the stats in the right direction AND subjugates government into thinking that a pay rise is justified.

  120. Steve Roper

    A similar state of affairs in Oz

    A couple a years ago a friend of mine was arrested and had his camera confiscated for taking pictures of a train derailment in Adelaide. This, while the news cameras were all over the place filming everything, but members of the public are not allowed to? My friend of course told the PIGS all this, and for his trouble lost his camera for several weeks while it went through the courts. He eventually did get it back, with pictures intact, but the PIGS were never prosecuted for false arrest or harassment.

    Last year, when I was in Melbourne, I went around taking night shots of the city. While I wasn't stopped or questioned, all the time I was taking photos I was waiting for it. What kind of society do we live in when a law-abiding citizen is more afraid of the PIGS than of being mugged or robbed for the camera? A PIG-FUCKING POLICE STATE, that's what!

    Yeah. Not police. PIGS. FUCKING PIGS.

    And yes I'll put my name to this. Bring it on, PIG.

  121. Anonymous Coward

    Of course photographers are a threat!

    Photographers might accidentally document a plod breaking the law while "urging" someone to "help the police with their inquiries". The police are generally wary of evidence not under their control, because such evidence may be used to prove police brutality or bribery or other acts they'd rather see not documented.

  122. Adrian Esdaile

    Heritage-listed buildings too....

    The New South Wales Government Tourism site lists some of Sydney's architectural marvels. Amongst them is the Societe Generale Building next to Martin Place, with "a marvelous original Art-Deco foyer, well worth a visit".

    Except, well, don't.

    Taking an overseas colleague around town on a Sunday afternoon to see some of the famous buildings, we stopped off at Societe Generale. The building's quite public foyer was wide open, so in went went, SLRs ready, we smelly Jobsworth from Mr.Nastiperson Rent-A-Cop-Or-Thug pounced on us literally.

    "You can't take photos in here" - OK, fair call, it's private property, so we went back out onto the street, where I promptly turned and took a photo of the foyer - to be tackled by said security guard. He grabbed my camera, and I refused to let go, and got my arm yanked fairly hard in the process.

    I got away with the camera intact, and in hindsite I should have made a complaint and filed assault charges, but really, are the cops going to actually do anything about it?


    Yes, I could spend cash getting lawyers, taking it to court, but I have a living to make, and only finite time.

    If someone organises a crowd, though, I'll be there.

  123. ShaggyDoggy


    Can I please have my image removed from all those cctv camera that have taken my picture without my consent. Thanks.

    Oh and while you're at it, next time there's an 'incident' and you appeal for pics from members of the publ .... oh never mind

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Camera Manufacturers

    Why aren't the camera manufacturers helping to lobby for change?

    People are buying their cameras and being prevented from using them, and if you think you're going to be harrased by the police, PCSOs and security guards then what's the point in spending a fortune on an SLR and some lenses? It seems the safest thing to do is buy a mobile phone with a few megapixels. Canon and Nikon must be losing money by people not buying their products or choosing to buy smaller and cheaper models.

  125. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge


    "Try taking pictures of my kids for sexual gratification..."

    If that's an invitation, the least you could do is include your address....

  126. Peter Bishop

    Not that it'll make any difference...

    but there's an online petition relating to this where you can be officially ignored!

  127. RichyS
    Paris Hilton

    Filthy Rozzers


    <quote>5. If in the event you arrested for failing to comply, behave calmly and co-operatively. When you are presented to the cop shop, remind the officers there you have been arrested illegaly for a non-existent crime, and demand (politely, but firmly) that the law is checked there and then. Make sure the arresting officers stay present to hear the outcome of this. When you are let go, request that the officers are dealt with in respect to false arrests.</quote>

    You forgot to mention the bit where they'll take you DNA and fingerprints, even if they have to let you go due to arresting you on a non-existent charge. You try getting your DAN out of the 'database' after that...

    Paris, 'cos we'd have her DNA by now if she tried any of that drink-driving over here...

  128. David

    @ Andy

    "Try taking pictures of my kids for sexual gratification and while you're on the floor catching my boot you can think about who's getting harmed..."

    I think you're missing the point. Even if I was taking photos for sexual gratification (and I don't know how you would determine that), it isn't illegal. So why harrass everyone who has a camera in public and is within 100 yards of kids?

  129. Kevin Johnston

    Legal Public photography

    Isn't it amazing that on all these TV shows with photographers going around with the police any complaints from the public about being caught on camera are answered by the Police a phrase along the lines of "he's allowed to film here it's a public place". No asking everyone present for their permission to be shown on TV (OK the scrotes get their faces blanked on request and also some of the Police, but not the crowds of shoppers going about their perfectly lawful business) for them.

  130. Dave Edmondston

    The real reason...

    ...that the JobsWorth security boys act the way they do, is that photography is outside their tiny sphere of intellect. Why would anyone want to spend their free time out in the street with a camera, whey you could be sitting at home on a sofa vegetating.

    If you don't fall into the lowest common denominator of society, you get persecuted. This is why we now have many more TV stations, all of which cater to f*ckwits.

  131. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anyone else starting to wonder if they're on the right side?

  132. alphaxion

    tit-le demanded,


    nope, they're just interested in controlling the minutae of your life to their standards. Both sides are The Enemy (tm).

    they can all get lost - whatever happened to self determination and personal responsibility?

  133. Mike Crawshaw

    @ JonB

    "Terrorists... Anyone else starting to wonder if they're on the right side?"

    Seeing as the Home Office currently have my passport*, I can't _possibly_ comment....

    *yes, _again_ ... you'd think it'd be easier for a Commonwealth citizen than a Czechoslovakian to make a bloody living here (y'know, the entire British Empire thing)... just waiting to get a new application form for RoA where it asks if I own a camera (alongside such gems as "Are you a terrywrist? Y/N")

  134. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Political correctness?

    It's strange that some of the biggest purveyors of terrorism scare stories and paedomania were such esteemed papers and The Daily Mail, Express, Sun etc.

    Now they could be accused of many things but political correctness isn't one of them.

  135. Andus McCoatover

    @Wotan Son of Tharg

    <Quote>I am shocked you would even publish this article knowing terrorists are on the lookout for evidence of how we protect our society.</Quote>

    Er, if you've figured it out, dont'cha think the bad guys have?


  136. Peter

    London Bobbies

    As a foreign tourist in London a couple of months ago I never had any problem with taking photos. Never even had an inkling such problems existed. I even asked a policeman if I could take his photo - which he smilingly allowed. (I think with taking a "portrait" photo of a person in a public place it is at least good manners to ask permission).

    Anyway - sad to hear such problems are arising. Good to hear people are questioning the actions of officialdom and giving advice on how to react.

  137. Paul Buxton


    For once, and surprisingly, yes.

  138. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    LoL internet hard man, you show them how tough you are!

    You beat up a guy taking photos of kids becouse the only reason in your pea sized brain to take photo of children is becouse you're a peadophile, turns out guy is parent of other kid taking a picture of a heart warming moment, or he's collect evidence of long term erosion of the ground and hadn't even noticed children in his shot. However you're busy being a big man!

    Go you.

    You're my hero.

  139. ian
    Black Helicopters

    "Have the police not thought this through?"

    Well what do you think, given the average copper has an IQ equivalent to their shoe size.

  140. Anonymous Coward

    Whoops!!! Stupid me...

    I was on the london eye recently, with me missus and a single-use camera. I'm not even an amateur, but I can point the thing and press the button.

    Background info from the S.ecurity S.ervices/Daily Hatemail point of view:

    Half my family is from [secular but mainly muslim country]. My missus is from the Republic Of Ireland. I use unregistered phones and change them every few months. I often make cash deposits to my bank account. Several of my T-shirts are not permitted within a mile of parliament. I have been arrested for posession of Cannabis. I didn't unquestioningly buy the whole "drugs are baaaaad mmmmkay!" thing: I think for myself, therefore I'm a potential subversive. I have computing qualifications, therefore I am a potential hacker who could click his mouse and Chernobyl the country off the face of the earth. While we're at it I'm probably lurking in chat rooms grooming your little sons and daughters while wanking like a safari park chimp.

    While on the eye, I took some, maybe 2 or 3, tech porn pics of the machinery, just on impulse. Then I realised the risk I was taking. I'm a harmless tech geek FFS!

    Now, I doubt I'll be developing that film anywhere in this stazi piss-hole. In fact I half expected to be greeted at the exit ramp by more than a few of our friendly local jackbooted rambo-wannabes.

    AC because I'm *not* paranoid: "they" really are after people like me!

    Mine's the one with the wads of undeclared income and a one-way ticket to a free country in the inside pocket....

  141. Rob Aley
    Thumb Down

    Legal advice not quite right

    I'm an ex-cop, it's partly due to sh*t like this that I left the force.

    However there is something missing from your guide to what you can and can't do.

    Police have the right, without needing a court order, to confiscate evidence of a crime. This means that if you have taken pictures of a crime scene before, during or after a crime (or where it is reasonably thought a crime may take place or have taken place), or if the Police think that you may have taken pictures of yourself committing a crime, they can seize the film/card at least. And a court would likely to class it reasonable to seize the camera as well if the officer isn't confident they can extract the film/card safely, or in the case of digital if they reasonably suspect the camera has in-built memory.

    The aftermath of a car accident. building fire, fight etc. are considered crime scenes even once the Police have arrived. So any pictures you take can still be considered evidence (you may have caught one of the perpetrators still hanging around, images of substances that are about to get washed away by the pending rain cloud etc. etc.) so an officer can still confiscate with warrent in those circustances. Note that it is not necessary to prove that you HAVE taken useful pictures, just that there may REASONABLY be the chance that evidence may appear in them. The press are generally afforded professional curtisy in these situations (although not always), on the basis that they will likely publish anything useful anyway.

    So remember, its not always taking the photo that is the crime, it is withholding evidence of another crime.

    But of course the officer has (usually, or at least should have) discretion...and some common sense may be nice..?

  142. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    SuperTech to the rescue! (cue theme tune)

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, actually, no-one can tell since if you've got decent optics in public you're a terrorist. Ruined that intro.

    So we just need a camera that will save to an SD card as well as a Bluetooth HDD. Or a backup camera. Or go the whole hog and have the file saved across the Internet.

    Any electronics nerds out there should have a go at getting a small GPRS modem and a microcontroller to talk (Even PICs can manage this) then use the SD card's SPI mode to let the microcontroller to read data from the SD card. Rig this all up to work inside a camera (there's gotta be space inside the camera- or in a small professional-looking box that's stuck on the side of it) and have the microcontroller switch between "scan-SD-for-differences-and-FTP-them-home" mode and "take, review and "delete" photos" mode.

    Or use your camera-phone and find a network-drive program (it's out for WM5/WM6 phones, so it should be possible for the rest of you!) and set your camera to save there.

    Also, fitting a microphone and miniature camera in there would probably be pretty good so you could record what the police were saying for future reference...

    This isn't even a law that's ridiculous. It's not even a misapplication of a law- there IS NOT a law out there that covers this. It's state-sponsored bullying, plain and simple.

  143. Anonymous Coward

    So where's Liberty when we need it?

    Nothing in the press or Liberty's website to suggest it cares about this particular abuse of police power.

  144. James Pickett
    Black Helicopters


    So where does CCTV feature in all this? They're photographing pretty well everywhere all the time, including buildings in Hull and (gasp!) children...

  145. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When is somebody going to stop the police from behaving this way?

    We have now reached a point where the police are as menacing, and cause as much misery and suffering as do the criminals. Something needs to be done.

    AC for obvious reasons

  146. Steve Hine

    Re: I'm 'gobsmacked'

    I should hope you'd be locked up for inadvertantly taking photos of the Golf Balls at Flyingdales; they've been gone for years

    I'm all for photography; but strange mutant powers are pushing it :)

  147. peter

    Unsafe Baiting

    I have a mate at work who is.....shall we say more susceptable to tanning than me. About 3 weeks after the tube shooting he went on a tourist visit to London and found himself outside the Ministry of Defence. As he was wearing his rucksack over the top of his heavy coat (he feels the cold more than me for some reason!), he decided this would be a good time to take a photo of the security cameras stuck to the building.

    No reaction from the plods (by which I mean he is still alive and not dressed in orange overalls), but braver than me - thats for sure.

  148. Michael J Welker Jr
    Paris Hilton

    So now it's your turn...

    When they took away the right to defend yourself, you supported them "for the good of the children/people".

    When they harassed male educators and men who enjoy helping youngsters grow, you supported them "for the good of the children".

    When they decided it was criminal to say anything others might take offense to, you supported them "for the good of the individual".

    When they decided men and women should be asexual in any sort of non-relationship environment, you supported them "for the good of the gender".

    Guess what! It's your turn!

    Perhaps you should consider supporting the rights of others, even if you disagree with their life choices, so they can be there to support your rights.

    Mike, the gun tooting, plain talking, child mentoring supporter of individual freedoms.

    Paris, because she also cares little for the needs of others until the problem comes home to roost.

  149. Anonymous Coward

    A protest plan...

  150. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit rich!

    It's a bit rich of the Humberside police to be playing the paedo' card, considering their part in the Ian Huntley/Soham murders!

    They should be disbanded and replaced by a more competent, neighbouring, police force.


  151. Mark


    sounds like taking something valuable. E.g. stuff out the shop window because the shop owner is unavailable and law has broken down.

    Half a burnt cigar case doesn't sound like it's worth anything.

  152. Ad Fundum

    All photographers are liars

    Apparently. I emailed my local rozzers for guidance on whether there was a handy cut out n keep guide and this was the response:

    "It seems to me that this has not actually happened to you

    [being stopped, searched and harrassed], so don't you

    think it possible that the stories may be just a tad exaggerated? Most of

    the problems arise because the public see a photographer in a park near

    children and become concerned. The police are called, and, as common sense

    dictates, they are going to want to check the photos, otherwise the member

    of the public could rightly complain about the lack of action by the

    police. I suspect there is then a certain amount of over reaction on the

    part of some photographers about which you only hear their side of the


    If it ever happens, cooperate, be pleasant, let the officers have a look

    and explain the work you are trying to do, the more you protest the more

    suspicious the officers will be and that is when things get heated. I am

    an ex police officer and have been a keen photographer for over 25 years, I

    would be quite chuffed to show of my stuff.

    Better still do the work well away from young children etc. so there is no

    cause for concern.

    As to your rights, well, if the officers, on the basis of the information

    from the public and their own dealings with you, think there maybe good

    reason to believe you are acting suspiciously in some way or other, they

    could take the option of arresting you, though it would have to be pretty

    good information."

  153. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    great article, and my two cents worth ...

    As much as I despise the paperazzi {sp} and intrusive journalism, I have to feel sorry for the enthusiasts being abused like this.

    I'm quite tempted to buy a camera now and just wander around town taking pictures until I get challenged, I'm sure I'd get arrested for foul and abusive language though mind you ...

  154. Hywel Thomas

    CCTV Paedo link ?

    Can we not get a paedo employed somewhere to monitor CCTV which shows children in shopping centres or something. You know, walking, holding hands with their mums, being fully clothed and acting in a typically childish asexual manner. Then catch the paedo bashing the bishop to the images ... and get all CCTV banned for encouraging the kiddie fiddlers ?

  155. Hywel Thomas

    Coppers throwing their weight around

    I had the misfortune of watching 10 minutes of some city centre drunken idiots TV show last night. I can understand that it's frustrating dealing with pissed plonkers, but where some police seemed to be doing a decent job at stopping violence that had broken out, they were astonishingly poor at dealing with people who appeared to have a genuine grievance, and were merely asking for an explanation.

    A couple of lads, who were pretty wobbly, seemed to be trying to find out why their mate had been arrested. The answer to this was "JUST GO HOME SONNY OR WE'LL TAKE YOU IN AS WELL". They (that is the drunks), finally gave up and started to walk off. A policewoman then followed them to make sure they were still walking away. They reasonably asked why she was following them, and whether she could see that they were going away. "YEAH. I'M FOLLOWING YOU TO MAKE SURE YOU DO". They carried on walking, and maybe 200 yards and three streets from the clubs, the policewoman was still following them and basically harassing them. When one of them swore, not even at her, but in exasperation, she said "RIGHT, I"VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU TWO!" and called for a van to cart them off as well.

    They were drunk, they weren't really disorderly though. At worst they'd lost a certain amount of inhibition, which is why they had the bollocks to question what was going on. That's what really annoyed the police. They were no threat to anyone. Arresting them seemed to me to be a complete waste of time and indeed a waste of resources.

    A programme that was meant to show the evils of a typical city centre on a Saturday night showed a couple of pissed idiots not getting into a club and some ludicrously undiplomatic police throwing their weight around unnecessarily. If it was meant to show what a good job the police do, it failed miserably. If I was their boss, I'd want to know where the fuck they were trained.

    I'm guessing they harass photographers when they're on the day shift.

  156. Anonymous Coward

    Re CCTV

    By law, town centers are required to post notices informing you that you are going to be filmed by CCTV - ForEx, Hastings (East Sussex, home to "The Battle Of...") has notices on all the approach roads telling you that the town is under 24hr CCTV surveillance.

    By entering the town you are deemed to have given Them permission to record your every action since you have been warned but have continued inbound anyway. You are not allowed to go and demand they remove you from their records as you surrendered your right to not being filmed by continuing past the notice.

    The fact that you cannot get into the town without passing the notice, and the people to complain to are all within the boundaries marked by the notices, is just tough luck on your civil rights.

    Oh, and there's some evil bastard attacking women at night but... he's not even been caught on camera attacking anyone by the CCTV "guardians".

    Half-wit idiot assholes barely passed their driving test (or have they?) in powerful cars race up and down the seafront but Plod has "insufficient evidence" to take the little shits' cars away - maybe this will change when one of them really *does* kill a pedestrian rather than just scaring them half to death. Did I mention the CCTV cameras along the seafront?

    Why do we have these things again?

  157. Wayland Sothcott

    Re: Are Photographers really a threat?

    Well yes they are a threat. They are actually collecting evedence that is not under control of the authorities. If the police want to lie, then it could be inconvenient if someone has a photograph that shows the truth.

    That's a bit too "New World Order" even for here. So if I want to be in denial then what should I go with?

    1. Oh well with all the paedos and since 9/11 and 7/7 it's good that they are doing this.

    2. This story is exaggerated, nothing this bad could possibly be happening because it's this bad. Quid Pro Quo.

    If I am really willfully stupid then I would believe both. Oh I feel much better now, for a moment I thought something really horrible, like Nazi Germany was happening.

    Stoopid X.T.C face, because I feel fine.

  158. Haku

    Flash mob time!

    Someone should initiate a photography flash mob somewhere in a town where it's perfectly legal to take photographs.

    Everyone turn up at say 1pm sharp with a camera - any camera, cameraphone/SLR/disposable/wristwatch etc., take a photo, wander round the general area and stop to take another photo at exactly 1:05, do some more wandering in the general area and take another photo at 1:10 and continue the cycle until 1:30 where everyone disperses and goes on their way/home etc.

    Then everyone upload their photos to Flickr or somewhere pre-designated just so everyone can have a look.

  159. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Rob Aley

    'Legal advice not quite right'

    With respect Rob, if I take pictures of a crime scene that may be regarded as evidence, I will submit them willingly, anyone is welcome to a copy of my pictures if they ask nicely.

    If my camera and memory cards are confiscated by some jumped up little tit trying to intimidate me with some extremely dubious if not downright wrong piece of barrack room bullshit then I'm going to get very arsey indeed.

    As an aside, I'm considering buying a small MP4 player and capturing clips of the 'Police Camera Chav' programs where the officers point out to the 'client' that the cameraman is entitled to film in a public place so I can return the favour.

    Unfortunately I'd probably then get arrested for the theft of copyright material.

    Paris, because she can have a sample of my DNA any time.

  160. A J Stiles

    @ Clint Sharp

    I believe your usage of a small portion of a copyrighted work for the purpose of reminding someone of something they said earlier ought to qualify as Fair Dealing.

    If you are indeed unlucky enough to be charged with copyright violation, then you should push for a trial in Crown Court, use "fair dealing" as your defence and just hope that at least two members of the jury agree with you.

  161. Gordon

    Doesn't surprise me

    As an ex-fuzz myself, I'm not surprised. The office doesn't actually have any rights to seize the film off the man. If he seriously suspected that the chap was taking pictures of "young people" then he should have nicked him and investigated the suspected offence. Interviewing the chap, viewing the photos and bailing him pending CPS advice would be the way to go.

    What we've got here is a copper throwing his weight around. Then when he's questioned about it and realises he acted without legal authority he came up with a bunch of flannel about suspecting the man is a paedo in an attempt to intimidate him into dropping the matter because mud sticks.

    Tell me. Do the Police routinely let suspected kiddie-fiddlers go???? The inference from the officers explanation of his actions is that he does.

  162. W
    Thumb Up

    Pink Tiger Girl

    Can't find a link for it, so I've typed it out for yers:

    In the Scottish Metro today (25 June 2008, page 16)

    [Start of article]

    "Man Cleared over snap of a 'pink tiger'"

    A man taken to court for photographing a child dressed as a pink tiger was given an absolute discharge yesterday.

    Shopper Krzysztof Lucki took a snap of the girl, who also had her face painted, after he noticed her in a busy supermarket.

    The costumed three-year-old was walking through the aisles with her mother when the 36-year old took the picture on his mobile phone.

    But when the child's mother realised what had happened, she became alarmed and demanded Lucki delete the image.

    After their discussion in the Tesco branch in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, the mother raised the alarm with store security and police.

    Lucki was then charged with disorderly conduct, breach of the peace and placing the mother in a state of fear and alarm during the April incident.

    But, when the case came to Airdrie Sheriff court yesterday, Sheriff Robert Dickson asked the prosecutor if she 'really wanted' to continue.

    Wendy McAdam, acting for the Crown, said: 'The little girl was three years old and was dressed as a pink tiger and had her face painted.

    'The man took her picture with his mobile phone as he thought she looked pretty.

    'He was charged as you cannot be too careful these days.'

    Sheriff Dickson allowed Lucki, of Cumbernauld, to go free.

    [End of article]

    You'll note that this time it goes beyond SLRs and inanimate objects and involves a mobile and a young girl. Shame about the private property element (Tesco). I note too that he was 'allowed to go free' as opposed to the case being 'thrown out of court'. No mention of whether the guy actually deleted the photo.

    Good to see a case go to court and for the proper outcome to prevail. A precedent?

  163. ShaggyDoggy

    @ A J Stiles

    Copyright law is civil law not criminal law.

    The police can not arrest you for possession of copyrighted material.

    How would they know, for example, that you don't have a letter back at home from the copyright holder giving you permission to use the material.

  164. James
    Paris Hilton

    Oh no!

    There was a man painting a picture of a street scene in Wimbledon Village last week. Just before the tennis started! I thought nothing of it at the time but now I'm tempted to report him to the police.

    Paris: Because she likes a big SLR

  165. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @CCTV Paedo Link?

    "Can we not get a paedo employed somewhere to monitor CCTV which shows children in shopping centres or something."

    You think they aren't already? Come on, who else would apply for that job?

  166. Richard Kilpatrick

    Stand out from the crowd

    Gitzo Photogear photographer's jacket. Has a giant, flourescent yellow flash on the back (detachable) that says "PRESS" in silver lettering. Also has a huge lightshield hood (to hide your identity, er, I mean, to protect your camera and make the LCD easy to read) and giant pockets that are very padded to hold lenses.

    It's also a very good coat.

    I long to be stopped by one of these people; I have had a shopkeeper in Selfridges ask if I would stop taking pictures of some attractive salt-pigs. Having finished, I did so; the reasoning that "it wasn't legal for me to do so" was laughed at, having already been told I was perfectly welcome to do so (there is a large, jellybean covered Bull in there that is a great subject with awful lighting).

  167. Mark

    Re: Pink Tiger Girl

    Heck, what's to stop any putative paedo remembering the cute picture and stroking the salami in the privacy of their own home?

    To counter this, the mother (obviously a deviant for allowing her daughter to dress so provocatively) needs some sort of all-over-body garment to hide the image of the child from those nasty kiddie fiddlers that are all around us (though not, obviously, manning the CCTV cameras...).

    Some sort of burka should do.

    Come one, people THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! (unless your a kiddie fiddler, in which case STOP THINKING OF THE CHILDREN!!!).

  168. Rob Aley

    @Clint Sharp

    Don't get me wrong Clint, I agree that most of what has been described here is wrong and much of it illegal.

    People have the right to take photos in public, including crime scenes etc. and the Police can't confiscate cameras because of that. HOWEVER, in the spirit of making sure people know the law, people should be aware that the police CAN confiscate them IF they may contain evidence. A good copper should of course ask for your cooperation first before demanding it, and only when there is a genuine need for that evidence.

    Its good that you are willing to share your snaps if they ask nicely, but chain-of-custody rules are likely to mean that they usually need to take at least the card/film there and then, rather than arranging for you to download and email the photos later. Otherwise the defence solicitors will be all over it - "he deleted/photoshopped the photos that prove my clients innocence before giving them to the police". Of course the officer should politely explain this to you and justify why the seizure is necessary, before resorting to more forceful tactics.

    I've seen an officer seize a shops whole CCTV recording system at a serious incident because none of the staff present knew how to download the relevant video to DVD. He explained why he had to do it nicely, and they were (relatively) happy.

    I only brought up the subject as the Reg's guide didn't really cover that area of the law, and its important people know what rights they DONT have as well as those they do.

    I'm very much against the current police & surveillance state that the Government are creating, which is why I'm not part of the force anymore.

  169. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    There's XXXXXX and XXXXX also the XXXXX XXXXXXXXX.

    There are sensitive buildings in Hull but I couldn't possibly comment as that would make this web page a document containing information likely to be useful to a terrorist.

  170. Michael J Welker Jr


    THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! is the rant/excuse of fascists everywhere.

    How about we think of the childrens future, where everything is regulated and monitored because we can't trust individuals to think for themselves. Heaven forbid we punish people for things they've done that actually harm others, we'll stop'em at the door with unending regulations bursting with minutia.

  171. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Welcome to the brave new world

    There is a simple solution, and will be so much less work for the police/lawers/judges/etc. I once heard a comedian say that they should just charge *everyone* as being a sex offender (I presume only males, because women do not do that sort of thing) and then if they can prove they haven't commited or will never commit such crime, then they are innocent.

    Here in AU, where you are guilty until you can prove you innocent, the police have a policy of charge, just in case, and let the courts sort it out.

    Dead bird, cause that is what has happened to our rights.

  172. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Been going on for some time

    Taking pictures of sensitive buildings?

    If it is visible to the eye then it can't be that secret.

    Photographers have to be careful these days, take a picture with someone's kid in the frame and you might get arrested.

  173. Nick Askew
    Thumb Down

    Can't photograph this,-73.537926&spn=0.001913,0.003192&t=h&z=18

    Some years ago I was in Stamford in the US and saw a building I liked the look of and thought would look interesting against the blue sky. I was preparing to photograph it when a couple of heavies came out and told me that photography was not allowed. Well clearly Google are allowed but I wasn't.

    At the time I just moved along quietly assuming the building might have had some military significance.

  174. Simon Painter

    The Police are Pedophiles

    My six year old neice and my 13 year old brother have regularly travelled in my car. The police have been known to take photographs (often two in close succession from a yellow roadside pedo-cam) of my car so can I demand they delete the images and have them arrested as pedophiles?

    Additionally, my car could be targetted with an 80's style IRA car bomb by one of these police road traffic safety terrorists and the photographs could be the research they are doing on things like maximum speed through residential areas etc.

  175. John Edwards
    Paris Hilton

    The last time we stuffed the Nazis

    The last time we stuffed the Nazis I was five years old and didn't play a very active part. I'm not five any more. If some over officious monkey in a blue uniform tries to stop me behaving perfectly legally manner he will discover that this will lead to a whole world of hurt. I'm not British, a classification that includes Somali rapists. I'm an Englishman, and I pay your wages, officer. By the time I have exhausted the official proceedure you will still be on the street, but you will have a broom in your hand, and will be doing something that will benefit the community, assuming careful training and adult supervision.

    Paris, of course, because she is far more competent than many officials. Except the silent majority of thoroughly decent police who I support wholeheartedly.

  176. Neil

    Once upon a crime...

    so did this gentelman then go home having had his films confiscated and spend countless lawful hours looking at said sensitive buildings on google earth?

  177. Mark

    @Michael J Welker Jr

    I know. I was trying to use that meme for the cause of good (sense).

    E.g. lock the mother up for allowing her child to dress in such a provocative way that a picture of such an outfit is suitable material for kiddie fiddlers. She was obviously aiding and abetting such procedures...

  178. Dr. Mouse

    I am not at all surprised...

    It is very difficult to convince the police that they are wrong about a point of law.

    Take housing law, for example. I was harrassed by my landlord at a previous dwelling. They wanted me out of the house. I felt threatened, and had already taken legal advice. In this case he was committing a criminal offense under both harrassment laws and housing laws. I called the police and informed them. The cop who showed up told me it was a civil matter. Even when I showed him the relevant laws from the litterature I got from the housing advice place, he still insisted that the landlord was breaking no law.

    The problem is that cops THINK they know all the law, but they are not lawyers/judges. They do not go to university, or even college, and learn about the law. They have no idea. It is up to the persons soliciter to prove that they didnt break the law. In the eyes of the police, everyone must be guilty of something, so prove you are innocent. Go on, prove it.

  179. Simon Painter
    Thumb Up

    @ John Edwards

    "I'm not British, a classification that includes Somali rapists. I'm an Englishman, and I pay your wages, officer."

    Brought a tear to my eye.

  180. Anonymous Coward

    Qaeda does not exist. It was invented

    Qaeda does not exist. It was invented..

    All western governments know that there biggest threat will come from it's own citizens. Nice to invent an enemy, label it, start a war on it, then make the laws you need to control and suppress your own population. The police at the end of the day is just a civic faced army that can be turned on it's own population. Governments ignore the inconvenient laws that also apply to them and their militia. First comes the intimidation just so Joe public knows where they should stand for their own good (cause no trouble). Second is to get citizens to report atypical citizens. you see where this is going? All this is because they know the s**t is about to hit the fan in terms of civil unrest, like oil, flooding, inflation and a possible recession. They are just tooling up which means you cant take photos where you want.

  181. Colin Guthrie


    I just had to post this link my dad sent me. Despite this being several days old and anyone who gets past 180 comments to see this link is a brave person indeed....

  182. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Parody

    That's brilliant.

  183. A J Stiles
    Dead Vulture

    @ Hywel Thomas

    It's easier than that. Just have a kid get naked in front of a CCTV camera. Legally, the recordings from the camera are now child pornography, and everybody in the control centre is a paedophile. So submit a Data Protection Act request for the footage, and stand well back .....

  184. David

    I was aressted in Colombia for these photos

    I was arrested in Colombia for ttaking photos. I managed tried to defend myself in English to this guard who could only speak spanish. Finally I thought the guard who arrested me let me go, I said "thanks senor", and walked off into the sunset. Later my wife later told me that I misunderstood him and he wasn't letting me go at all. But the guard didn't come after me, so I guess he just wanted to forget about his encounter with a dumb tourist.

    Here are the so-called sensitive pics:

    The one on the bridge is where I was arrested.

  185. Dave
    Black Helicopters


    Funny how I'm a suspect for daring to use a camera outside specially sanctioned user friendly tourist areas, but if anything happens "The police would like to appeal to anyone taking photos in the area to send them in"

    I thought we fought a war against hitler, rather than putting his clones in uniform.

  186. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Police Photo Paranoia

    This government and police force needs to get a grip and try to reduce their paranoia -- puhlease, take a strong sedative :)

    Orwell would have been proud.

  187. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new

    This has happened to me when photographing demonstrations and marches for years, the police lost my confidence long long ago...

  188. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happened to me three times now

    I've been arrested three times now for taking photographs in a public place (the longest detention being a period of some 60 hours), and released without any charge, nor apology being made, on each occasion.

    And yes, my MP is one of those who have signed EDM1155.

  189. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More key worker perks...

    .. free memory cards for all police officers.

  190. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So how is it hat

    The the police can open take pictures of people on peaceful marches or demonstrations yet have the gall to complain and bitch when somebody is taking a picture of say, St Paul's as a memento?

  191. Andus McCoatover

    Anyone a hacker here?

    Seeing the image at:

    -Can someone hack the site so the photo shows a CCTV cam rather than a typical tourists camera? After all, they're much more ubiquitous.

    Ta Muchly.

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