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back to article UK clamps down on bus-spotting terror menace

The UK's streets are today a safer place for kiddies and decorated war veterans after public and police hostility forced a Gloucestershire bus-spotter to give up his lifelong hobby of snapping interesting examples of road-based public transport, the Evening Standard reports. Rob McCaffrey, 50, had apparently over 40 years built …

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Alert

"...have the power to seize..." ?

In earlier El Reg articles on this subject it was stated, and other linked sources seemed to confirm, that a search warrant or court order is needed to 'seize' a camera (or anything else) if stopped on the street.

But this article has the quote "...they have the authority, under the Police and Criminal Evident Act, to seize the camera and arrest the individual."

Can someone (maybe from Out-Law) clarify this?

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Stop

Well done Tony & Gordon...

...your scraemongering tactics are finally paying off and we are now living in a society that is scared shitless of anyone and everyone.

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Well done El Reg

Keep up the good work highlighting this dangerous bollocks. It scares the shit out of me.

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What are my rights?

In this story you quote the police as claiming

"[police] have the authority, under the Police and Criminal Evident Act, to seize the camera"

while just yesterday you said:

"Police should be well aware that they have no powers to remove cameras or take film without a court order."

apparently based on this quote from Nottinghamshire police / ACPO:

"Police officers do not have the authority to prevent a person taking a photograph or to confiscate cameras or film, and such conduct could result in criminal, civil or diciplinary action. "

So which is it?

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it's a bit odd really ....

.. given the explosion in the number of cameras out there, and their more and more frequent use, that photographers are getting more and more harassment.

I think I have the solution, though. Al you need is a friend to stand vaguely in front of the bus, child, or high-security defense establishment; you can then claim to be photoing the friend instead. Take two with the friend in different places and merge the two to get a friend-free image!

I suspect what is supposedly "suspicious" about these harassed photographers is that they are alone (also tis easier to harass an individual than a pair or a group).

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How to identify a terrorist

So imagine you are a policeman, keen to prevent terrorists from blowing up buses, trains or buildings.

You stop a dodgy looking photographer in order to search through his pictures and establish whether there is any evidence that he "is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism" (text from the Act).

How do you tell intent from the pictures? He hasn't yet printed them out and scrawled ("bomb here", "escape this way") in red marker pen. Do you hope that his memory card still has pictures from his recent trip to an Afghanistan training camp, with him and his mates firing AK-47s in the air?

This law is only "useful" in that it provides an arbitrary reason to arrest and detain someone, or have a quick perv at pictures they took of their wife last night.

Idiots.

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Weasel words

"the officer will first discuss the matter with the photographer"

Well unless this is weasel-speak for "threaten the photographer and demand personal information, proof of innocence and destruction of (intellectual) property", that's a load of shite, isn't it?

If it IS weasel for that, I ought to apologise to weasels: they'd choke on this sort of crap.

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What's an unlawful arrest

I'm sure I've heard the term unlawful arrest used in relation to events in the UK. What is one of these if the police has the 'authority' to arrest someone because they happen to be bored.

As for what the chap had on his camera in Ponty, I'm guessing it's what we call a Welsh Rarebit. A Valleys bus (yes I'm from the Valleys and have memories of regularly giving up and walking a mile to the train station. It still worked out quicker and more reliable).

They run on the hour,

Every hour,

Give or take an hour,

If you're lucky.

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Ref Anonymous Coward

Second that A C - What are our rights?

I think I’d make a stand and go to the Police Station and be charged than just hand over my personal possessions - if the law says they need a warrant. (and they have not got one) that is.

BTW if any of you have cameras with telephoto lenses don't visit beaches in New South Wales Australia - you are assumed to be paedophile or pervert and if you have a green laser pointer don’t bring it to Australia - they are classed as deadly weapons (it's OK to own a shotgun though)

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Flame

Since 1st Feb 2008

http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/operational-policing/2008_PACE_Code_B_(final).pdf

I see nothing in there that really covers the situation this police officer is talking about. In other words, FUD.

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Black Helicopters

If they arrest you

do they not have to say on what grounds?

Fortunately, I mainly take photgraphs in the great outdoors, where the density of plods is low enough not to be a problem (yet). Though what they would say about me taking snaps of MY kids playing with friends makes me shudder.

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Unhappy

Poor Guy

Just because his hobby doesn't conform to the allowable norms of drinking, football and watching shit TV, he gets persecuted.

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Alien

Zimbabwe anyone?

It's typical of this Government and it's policy of a Police State before 2010. How many points towards their free toaster do you reckon the police have gained by repeatidly stopping this guy? I appriciate the average terrorist isn't the brightest bulb in the box, but to allow themselves to be nicked over and over again would suggest something less dodgy.

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Al
Black Helicopters

It's not the power, but the action....

As any fule kno, it's not whether or not Plod is *allowed* to do it that matters, it whether or not he/she does it that counts. Unfortunately, in our new safer society, arguing the point with the police seems to get you clobbered with 'anti-terrorist' legislation. Telling Plod they can't do something only provokes them....

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Unhappy

I don't know why I read this website...

...all it does is get me depressed and enraged at the state of country, public, government, world, human race etc. At least when I (dare to) read the Daily Mail I just get depressed and enraged at the newspaper and its staff.

Though I am amused at the concept of someone being mistaken for a terrorist and paedophile. As if the two alone weren't bad enough, now we have terrorist paedophiles.

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ian
IT Angle

Rob McAffrey

I did wonder what Sky Sports presenters did during the summer. Now I know.

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Powers of "confiscation"

If you get yourself arrested then pretty well anything on your person becomes fair game for the police. The police certianly do not have the power to confiscate any form of property, whether photographic or anything else, unless you are arrested. The real issue then becomes whether you are suspected of committing an indictable offense. That is essentially an offense which requires a preliminary hearing to establish if there is a prima facia case to answer in a court of law.

The real question then becomes whether the arrest on suspicion is made on reasonable grounds. Given the wide-ranging nature of much of the anti-terrorism legislation, then there's a lot of discretion in the hands of the boys in blue, especially around anything that might be considered sensitive - which frankly might include any number of things in a city centre. Transport centres, buses, local government buildings - who knows.

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Black Helicopters

Rights

From the latest issue of Digital Photographer (which also has this same story in it) and from Liberty.

"The police have no right to seize property without a court order."

"There is no law against taking photographs in a public place."

The advice is, if stopped by the police, be polite, but they have no right to look at the photos on the camera without actually charging you with an offence. If pressed by the officer, ask specifically what law you are being stopped for/with.

If the officer acted in a threatening manner, once away from (and not being followed by) the officer, write down what was said, along with the plods name and number. Make a complaint about harrassment.

Nobody bats an eyelid at all the photographers at an airshow - taking photos in a public place of military hardware. But apparently some people are getting their knickers in a twist over someone taking photos of buses on a public high-street.

We need a Devil Brown or 1984 icon. This country is sleep-walking into a police state.

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Anonymous Coward

Police

"...they have the authority, under the Police and Criminal Evident Act, to seize the camera and arrest the individual."

If they arrest you, they take the camera as evidence.

Yesterdays article dealt with the Police trying to take the Camera film without arresting the person.

To do this they need a court order.

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Tim
Go

Here's the solution...

... Just disguise your camera as the ISO standard CCTV camera. Put it on a shoulder mount and snap to your hearts content. Those camera's are a law unto themselves!

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Re: "...have the power to seize..." ?

Well, it was a "Gloucestershire Police spokeswoman" that said "under the Police and Criminal Evident Act, to seize the camera and arrest the individual."

That doesn't mean that the Gloucestershire Police spokeswoman actually knows what the law is, and is just making things up because she, along with lots of Police officers, think the Police have more powers than have been granted to them.

I'm hoping I get stopped by the police for taking photographs soon, so I can get the letter from the Chief Constable apologising to me, so I can keep it in my camera bag for the future.

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Cameras with telephoto lenses?

Now that's going to get a lot of us arrested.

Apart from the ultra-cheap digitals and the mobile phones, they all have zoom lenses which get into the telephoto range.

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Gates Horns

Gotcha!

"I can deal with the fact someone might think I'm a terrorist, but when they start saying you're a paedophile it really hurts."

So, McCaffrey, you find the thought of yourself being a terrorist bearable? Sounds like they've got the right guy after all.

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Anonymous Coward

If arrested....

The police get to take your fingerprints & DNA sample - don't they? Who needs to worry about ID cards when the state can acquire all the info it needs this way.

Sorry, silly me. Of course, under the current legislation the information cannot be shared so it's quite secure on the PNC

What other little tricks does the state have planned.

I don't think I have anything to hide but ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

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@Barrie Shepherd re. shotgun

What if the shotgun has a green laser target pointer?

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Getting your priorities right

"I can deal with the fact someone might think I'm a terrorist, but when they start saying you're a paedophile it really hurts"

Yep, cos fiddling with kids is much, much worse than blowing them up.

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Tim
Joke

@ john latham - chance would be a fine thing.

I doubt bus spotters would take pics of their wives that cops would perv over....not unless their wife looked like the back of a bus!

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@ktabic

That's actually not a bad idea. Rather than waiting to be arrested and getting a letter of apology, why not write to the Chief Constable and get them to send you a letter before you get harassed.

Ideally, there should be a FAQ and form letter on the ACPO or local police authority website that you can print out and keep with you.

(Stop sign for the nonsense that the government and police are currently trying on with the populous)

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@ Frank

That'll make for Schrödinger's shotgun with all kinds of interesting results.

By and by, the UK sinks lower and lower on my "places to go to" list. Which is a shame, as I know so many nice people from around there.

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Joke

meanwhile doununder in Oz

Meanwhile down under in Oz , the Chasers Comedy team have a great time lampooning fools as per this link = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McB9tsabPn0

Now if one could only rickroll both Gordo and Tony B Liar every time this stupidity occurs now that would be justice served !

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Go

Your rights are here...

http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php

Note it's dated 2004, so it might be out of date... The creator posted a comment last week though, saying;

"Watch this space, because I am working on an update, honestly I am! I am concentrating more on some of the issues that seem to be of greatest concern and this means reworking the whole document."

Might be worth having a copy in your camera bag - although I imagine if you try and show it to any over-zealous plod you're more likely to get into trouble, ironically.

Mark

There's another one here, but it seems less comprehensive: http://hmmm.co.za/ukrights.php

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Unhappy

Terrorist Vs. Paedophile

"I can deal with the fact someone might think I'm a terrorist, but when they start saying you're a paedophile it really hurts"

I think that the point is you can more easily persuade people that you're not a terrorist (i.e. your friends and neighbours will laugh it off), whereas once accused of being a paedo, "There's no smoke without fire" kicks in, and soon everybody *thinks* that, even though there's no damn evidence...

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Paris Hilton

@Barry Shepherd

Not too sure about the paedo bit, but I've seen plenty of perves at Bondi happily snapping away with their telephoto lenses. Not many people expect to be photographed in public, especially in a bikini. Telephoto lenses on beaches - ANYWHERE - are unnecessary. Unless you've got release forms for everyone on the beach...

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Coat

@Barrie Shepherd re. shotgun (& Frank)

What if he's got a pointed stick ?

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Happy

The police really need to pool their resources

... and start picking up tourists in Trafalgar Square!

It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

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Dead Vulture

@EvilGav

What do you mean walking into a police state ? We have been in a police state for the last few years. The USSR under the KGB had a more open, friendlier police state than we currently have.

Death of personal liberty,freedom,human rights - all gone in the UK

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Black Helicopters

@ E_Nigma

I think it's more to do with the fact that nobody (intelligent) believes in the terrorists as the Gov describes them. Even Blair fucked up once and admitted that Al Q'Aida is "an ideology, not an organisation" (IIRC, cant be arsed to google).

Some middle aged white bloke (i assume he is) is "clearly not a terrorist". But the peedo label sticks like shit when its flung at a man.

But.... To paraphrase an old saying:

1000 people walk past a Muslim/"oddball". 999 will walk straight past without batting an eyelid. 1 will piss his/her pants and call the government anti-Fre^HDemoc^HTerror hotline. Or perhaps 100/99. Probly not long before it's 10/9.

Chopper, cos people who call the old bill by dutifully obeying a poster as a replacement for actual brain function are the most delusional of all. At least conspiracy nuts know where to look for the *real* terrorist scum.

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Flood the police...

Right... what about if we organise for groups of us to flood town centres with photographers taking photographs of buses, court buildings, police stations and railway stations? We could even take turns to phone up the police and report each other for acting in a suspicious manner...

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@David

But which is more likely to expose you to a bloodthirsty mob?

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Re: @Barrie Shepherd re. shotgun

"What if the shotgun has a green laser target pointer?"

Then may God have mercy on us all.

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Scary

It's an interesting world when train (ok, bus), spotters are considered dangerous.

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Two things spring to mind.

firstly, while easy to ridicule 'geeks' and their hobbies, It can often be only with hindsight that people see the value of their geekish activity as in time it can form a valuable historical and social document not of interest to the mass media of the day. The likes of Ivo Peters spring to mind who spent much of his life photographing and filming what was then contemporary public transport. Most noteably planes and trains. The collection he built up throughout his life is now considered to be of historic value. The collection of 16mm colour films he shot of the now defunct Somerset and Dorset line back in the days of steam has been the subject of a BBC TV series.

The other point was that its not that long ago that the Greek Authorities were ridiculed for similar over reaction to a group of British planespotters.

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@David

I'll take pictures of whatever the fuck I like, and they can arrest me all they fucking like. If the state (which is exactly what it is) feels like giving me free bed and breakfast at HM Pleasure then fine, bring it on, and thanks very much to everyone who contributes most generously via their obscene taxes. At least then you can console yourself with the fact that some of your hard earned cash is going to giving me a place to sleep and and three meals a day, rather than say, for example, funding the killing and mutilations of a large portion of the innocent populace in some far flung piss poor country (take your pick at present). Interestingly, I was in a school attending some model exhibition with my son when I noticed they had `security` cameras set up in the TOILETS. Interesting. So, I guess it's OK for INSTITUTIONS to perv and spy on people, but not for individuals...interesting, I thought Institutions were comprised of lots of individuals, some of whom presumably have access to these camera systems. Hmm.

How about hand drawings, are they still allowed, or have the idiots currently at the controls fscked that up for everyone too? As someone earlier stated, heaven forbid anyone should have any deeper interests than flicking through 400 channels of fantasy telly for 'tards (read: Lost, Heroes, Prison Break, Torchwood, Buffy, Entourage, Supernatural, ...Oh my f*cking sh*tting christ the list just goes on and on...people are being made DUMBER and DUMBER by this INANE Hollywoodesque effects laden bile ..)

May god (if against all odds he does exist) help us all (well most of us, with the definite exceptions of Blair, Bush, Brown, and frankly any other present or future zealots who think they know best for every single living creature on the surface of this planet). Fucking Morons.

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@richard

'now we have terrorist paedophiles'

Osama Bin Kiddyfiddlin ?

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@ E_Nigma @David

How I read the story was that he felt it would be reasonably easy to remove the terrorist label, (duh, I've just got an odd hobby) whereas once labelled a paedophile he was going to be in the shit for the rest of his life arising from "he's a bit different from the rest of us" together with that well known libertarian principle "there's no smoke without fire"

Have we all forgotten the paediatrician that was persecuted because none of the mob could get past the first four letters?

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@Getting your priorities right

"Yep, cos fiddling with kids is much, much worse than blowing them up."

Because we all know the great unwashed masses think with that kind of rational.

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Stop

re. Getting your priorities right

I think his comment relates to the reaction of the public; if the police arrest you as a suspected terrorist and let you go, it's regarded as a case of mistaken identity; but if you're arrested as a suspected paedo, there are people who will carry on with the rumours and continue the witch hunt for the rest of your life.

What the police should be doing is throwing these "suspected terrorist/paedophiles" into a pond to see if they sink or float (sink = innocent, float = guilty).

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Anonymous Coward

Sleepwalking into a police state?

I think we ran headlong into a surveillance state quite some time ago, and with the current levels of paranoia out there, not necessarily whipped up by the media, but by politicians who are using it to push the population control agenda. Or am I being paranoid?

There is loads of this in Amateur Photographer at the moment - it's even taken over from the tired and dusty digital v film "debate" that's been knocking around for far too long. The police are cracking down on old boys taking photos of buses or taking street scene photos while at the same time asking for photographers to come forward with photographic evidence of street crime. Tom Harris, MP, wanted to know why there is a malaise in this country, well maybe he would do well to start looking into the perceived or real liberties that we have lost over the last few years - councils using RIPA to spy on citizens for trivial offences, police coming down hard on people carrying on with legal hobbies, ID cards and more importantly the central database being forced on people, the police DNA database that is almost impossible to be removed from, fingerprinting kids so they can take out library books, the list is pretty endless and is quite apart from the fact that the economy isn't much cop at the moment. How did it go in '97 - things can only get better? I bought into it at the time, how wrong I was.

Well, I'm looking forward to doing a bit of outdoor photography myself in a couple of weeks, but I'm going to pop over to Canada to do it where the RCMP have a bit more common sense.

I'm finished now. Sorry.

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The terrorists have won

When our civil rights have been eroded to this state then its time to acknowledge that there is little point in fighting terrorists to "protect our freedoms" when the Police state is taking away our rights to be honest, law-abiding, up-standing citizens faster than any terrorist actions could ever do.

In the last 5 days I've been caught no less than 3 times by the Google street view car carefully mapping and photographing everything in our area.

Can I complain to plod and have the Google street-mapping car confiscated?

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So presumably...

All a vaguely bright terrorist planning to bomb a building has to do is

Keep moving so as to be well away before someone can complain to the police, even assuming there are police nearby

(As suggested earlier) take pictures of his mates (possibly in silly tourist hats) posing in front of sensitive buildings

Take pictures covertly (presumably not hard to do successfully given the possibilities of checking digital results and then re-trying)

Use video - make film of accomplices walking down street, easy to take brief excursions to include target buildings which you can grab as stills from the video later

Take photographs/video from a moving vehicle

etc

or just the old-fashioned method of using their eyes, possibly making a sketch later if they feel the need.

You'd *think* that someone capable of looking at photographs of buildings and working out how to attack them would probably be capable of doing the assessment about as well by being there, and unless the place was *so* sensitive that a dawdling pedestrian would be suspect to the point of detention, if they perceived much risk of being caught taking photographs, they'd just not take photographs.

Apart from people blowing up car-bombs outside (which surely doesn't take much precise planning of location), or walking in past defective physical security with a bomb to leave somewhere or detonate in a suicide attack, what kinds of building attack are there?

(I suppose the IRA mortar attack springs to mind, but I assume *they* could have just used a map.)

At the very best, curtailing photography just seems to be a significant pain for many regular citizens, which might make things fractionally more inconvenient for a few possible terrorists.

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