UK Liberty

Why is photography still a problem?

Posted in control freakery, law and order, relates to ordinary people, stupid by ukliberty on December 7, 2009

John Ozimek at the Register:

The government’s own anti-terror advisor, Lord Carlile of Berriew, believes that the police are over-using and misusing anti-terror laws to crack down on photographers. …

Craig Mackey, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers on this issue, blamed lack of awareness by officers as to how best to use “complex” legislation. He said: “It goes back to the issue of briefing and training of staff and making sure they are clear around the legislation we are asking them to use.” …

Apparently there is an “internal urban myth” that photography is not allowed in particular areas.  This is despite the fact that “there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place.”

The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights, less co-operative, and ultimately far more difficult to police.

Although the focus of public debate is currently on photographers being stopped and searched under terror legislation, the issue goes far wider and highlights a growing confusion both on the part of police and public as to what police may do – and when they may do it. …

It is hard enough for the public to keep abreast of this maze of legislation – and therefore not at all surprising if some police forces are also unable to keep their officers fully trained in the nuances of the law.

I take the point but this seems the wrong way round – surely the police ought to be more aware of the law than the public.

In any case, we (society) do have a hard time navigating our way through the ridiculous amount of legislation that has been churned out in recent years.  But it’s odd that this was not nipped in the bud far sooner – i.e. when the first photographer was stopped for doing something perfectly normal and reasonable and lawful.

What’s interesting to me as well is the question as to why people invent these “internal urban myths” – e.g. photography in s44 areas is not allowed – in the first place.

Perhaps it is because their superiors provide a fertile environment in which such ideas may flourish?


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