back to article Police, Cameras, Pixellation

Is pixellation the new chic? Or is it destined to be the death of creative photojournalism? Are pixellated police the inevitable upshot of our obsession with security? Or a sign that the forces of Law and Order are getting just a little above themselves? Let’s start with pixellation in general. There can be little doubt that …

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Megaphone

Pointy end...

of the wedge, I think. It's becoming more and more apparrent that a huge shift in attitude is occuring in the police forces in this country, at all levels, from Chief Constables all the way down, where they no longer consider themselves to be public servants, they see the 'relationship' the other way round.

It's high time that they, along with their political masters, who appear to also share this delusion, were reminded that this is NOT the case. It's time for the great unwashed in this country to grow a collective spine and start to regain control of this country, before we loose it forever.

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Silver badge
Coat

This works for me

I can think of a few newsreaders who might be improved with a little pixellation ... and what about party political broadcasts too? If fact, I think I'll take advantage of this too - of course, at the moment a personal real-time pixellation face mask is too expensive so I think I'll just put a brown paper bag over my head the next time I go out...

Mine's the coat with the bag in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Privacy for the police...

But our right to privacy is being eroded on a daily basis. Doesn't seem particularly fair to me.

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Black Helicopters

Creeping censorship ?

I know I should say something, but it'll be pixellated out because of security concerns.

Posted Anon for obvious reasons.

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Big Brother

Alternative

Though I'm not in favour of pixelation as it does sometimes seem to go to far (one of those case where everyone does it because everyone else has and the real reason is lost in time) I would prefer it to the alternative of the police covering their faces whilst working. That has hints of South American police wearing balaclavas and acting outside the law.

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Anonymous Coward

There are alternatives

How about adding clown makeup instead of pixellation?

Policemen could put on clown makeup for real, or wear stockings on their heads if they are really concerned about becoming target of abuse.

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Coat

Privacy in Public?

We, as a society, seem to be failing to adequately grasp the concept of privacy, and how it relates to that which is public. As well as privacy-destroying police state stuff, where we don't seem to have privacy from public bodies even when in the privacy of our own homes, we have this nonsense about that which is publicly revealed still being treated as private.

To me, it's quite simple. If there's a part of your body you wish to keep private, and don't want to be publicly revealed, cover it with clothing. That's a basic function of clothing, and has been for thousands of years. It's an established social convention that we all understand - don't we? We don't parade around naked in public and then expect everyone else to respect our "privacy" by averting their eyes. That would just be unreasonable.

And as for employees doing jobs in public, I'd point out that they're not slaves, but employees. To me, the essential difference between employment and slavery is consent. Employment is with the consent of the employee, while slavery is with coercion instead. And since employees do their jobs having consented to such employment, they have already consented to the public appearances that such jobs entail. It's unreasonable for them to then expect the rest of the public to treat them as if they're working in private.

This is the sort of issue that needs to be debated and discussed nationally, not just by the establishment, but by us, the people, as what's supposed to be a free and democratic society. Then we can entrench the important distinction between private and public in an entrenched Bill of Rights, probably as part of a democratically established and entrenched written constitution.

The United States seems to have more experience of dealing with this issue, so it might be a very good idea to follow their lead and learn from them. But we don't have to blindly, unthinkingly follow.

Perhaps, like the Convention on Modern Liberty, or as a part of it, or following on from it, we should have a Convention on Modern Privacy?

Don't make public that which you wish to keep private - simples!

Mine's the one with private possessions in the pockets.

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Flame

odd how pixilation is used...

apparently they don't need to be pixilated when they are on the telly doing a drugs raid (good cops?) but they do need to protect their identity when they are caught on duty without their ID tags on display (bad cops?).

Likewise, no concerns about pictures of our friendly local community liaison team, currently plastered on our village notice board, but oddly feel the need to protect the identity of a cop on his way into court having been found to be a wrong-un.

And of course there's no need to protect the identity of men accused of rape, kiddy fiddling etc. never mind that they may be totally innocent.

I think it's time for a cohesive ruling on this issue that applies to Joe public as well as the police, politicos etc.

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Grenade

Publicise info about law enforcement.

Ah, so people that should be answerable to society are hiding themselves, or their fans are censoring their faces?

People should fight back against that, by photographing any pigs and plastic pigs they see when out and about and publishing them on line along with their name, number and location.

I wonder if I should go to the next step, of publicising the name and address of the superintendent who lives on my road?

Why is it so often tin-pot local rags that are so unquestioning of what authority figures say, want, or even might want? I guess the papers' main market are the closet fascists spread all over this country[1], the ones that kept Thatcher/Major in power for years, then jumped on the Blair bandwagon when it came along (if you think Blair was ever not just another right-wing authoritarian, you weren't paying attention properly).

[1] Yes, the same people who had friends, siblings, parents and grandparents lay down their lives' fighting authoritarian regimes in WWII are now simply letting those regimes' attitudes and practices in by the back door, a little at a time.

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Coat

Tattoo solution?

If you've been following any articles regarding Augmented Reality you will have seen that many are using a printed square with a specific pattern on so the computer can identify it and therefore work out it's size & orientation for overlaying it's own graphics, like this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKw_Mp5YkaE

My proposal is that anyone who wants their face pixellated/blurred out in video/photos should have an augmented reality marker tattoo'd on their forehead, then any press/tv organisation will run any footage/images they want displayed through a 'blanking' program that looks for the augmented reality markers and blurs faces accordingly..

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Big Brother

silly coppers

If one is serious about getting the police into trouble at an event one has the target photographer who is expected to be harassed/arrested and second photographer at a safe distance with some quality lenses taking the photos that will appear in the media next day.

With a hidden camera (available from any "spy" shop) I could take any number of pictures of security staff all day without detection. So why do they go all apeshit when someone with an obvious camera turns up?

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Coat

Don't Pixelate, substitute

Photoshop the faces of NuLab Ministers who have given us such crap laws instead. This way they will be reminded for eternity that they were responsible in the first place.

Yes, Occifer I'm coming quietly. Let me get my coat

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Big Brother

Big ??? Is Watching You

If we are not allowed to see photographs of Police persons' faces, what happens with their badges? All we need is for someone to claim that "hackers" have penetrated Police comnputers and stolen images from there, and then we won't be allowed to check their ID when they come calling in case we breach their privacy...

Now all we need is for the Beeb and ITV to retcon all episodes of 'Crimewatch', 'Police Camera Action' etc and we need never fear for their privacy again.

Can you imagine some police chief pulling this in the States? The "free" press over there would have a field day! (Unless it was done in the name of "the War on Terror", and ended up with some poor freelance journo being arrested at gunpoint, being held in a cell for hours and having his camera confiscated... but that would never happen would it???)

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Anonymous Coward

Well, that's a help

Erections... may be offensive to women?

That could do quite a lot to keep the population down.

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In Public view

Serving the Public.

God you can't even be seen to be doing your job right as a police officer any more. *roll eyes* Is it any wonder that this kind of behaviour breeds mistrust?

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WTF?

IDGI,

Really, totally don't get it, officers should wear badge numbers, in public, They must identify themselves when they make arrests, and they give evidence in public court..

Therefore their identity is public whether they like it or not.

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Grenade

Don't care anymore...

Because the b*st*rds have won! Me, my wife, my meagre belongings and (between us) 50 years of IT experience are in four weeks boarding a plane and getting the hell out of this country. bye bye and enjoy the sound of jackboots and the stench of burning books.

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FAIL

A Terrible Waste Of Time

If they'd just make it law that we're all required to wear bags over our heads at all times, none of this nonsense would be necessary!

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Easy solution to the problem

If police officers wear black face masks or ski masks everywhere they go whenever they leave the precinct house, they need not worry about being identified by members of the public!

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Thumb Up

A solution

The Police could wear the Burka of the type that has a mesh in front of the face.

That way they will (probably) be able to see out but the rabble /sweaty masses won't be able to see them very well

Down here in New Zealand the Coppers are not camera shy like your lot .

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Brought it on themselves

When the police took "Policing by consent" seriously, they were supported by the vast majority of the population. Now they have become a branch of the government, they need to be defended from us. Whose fault is that?

Keep their face pixellated for all I care. It's the uniform I fear these days, not the individual.

O

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Amazingly one sided stuff

It's interesting that you make no attempt to present the "other side" in this article. If police can be traced back to where they live that leaves them and their families open to intimidation by criminal types. You seem to give this no consideration as though it was an unimportant point.

The desire of some clown with a camera to snap pictures is irrelevant compared to the safety of police officers. Police who are fellow citizens laying their lives on the line to protect you and your civil right to be a whining bleedling heart.

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Bronze badge

How stupid can they get?

OK, I can see reasons for being careful about pictures of some police officers, some of the specialists who might be a specific terrorist target themselves. We have enough controls over Police Officers carrying guns that a qualified officer is a scarce resource.

But newspaper reports of school events? Are we going to delete schools from Ordnance Survey maps so that paedophiles can't find out where they are?

And the general Police attitude seems to be more and more a distancing of themselves from society. I'm old enough to remember Police Houses in villages, just like <i>Heartbeat</i>. The last Police Officer I saw looked more like a character from a video game, with such things as the protective vest and the multiplicity of tools and weapons dangilng from her belt.

And I can't escape the feeling that they're never going to be on my side any more.

How long before we really do have a Secret Police?

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Pint

Kylie Minogue - I can't get you out of my mind....

I think Kylie warned us about this long before any one else. Her models wore RED boxes over their faces but I think her point is obvious.

Going to do something embarrassing then wear your box. Colour your own choice.

Anon because I'm in my coloured box on now

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Anonymous Coward

Of course!

That's why nobody respects the police anymore. They can take as many pictures as they want (and they do!)

But as soon as you try and gain evidence of their hypocrisy you get your collar felt "coz you're obviously a terrorist"

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Anonymous Coward

I like Streetview's approach

Blurring the face of a guy who's being talked to by the police, but not the police officers' faces...

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=g5&ie=UTF8&ll=55.850879,-4.260635&spn=0.007372,0.012038&z=16&layer=c&cbll=55.850905,-4.260776&panoid=d8N1I5rx7ZRaVgqZrMLFCA&cbp=12,170.31,,3,10.26

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WTF?

It's worrying all right

> It is therefore to be hoped that this anonymised photo of two officers dealing with an everyday road traffic incident is merely a quirk of the local Southport media – rather than a coming trend.

If police officers think the scene of a fatal accident is an appropriate place to perform "I'm A Little Teapot", then I think they deserve to be unmasked.

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Unhappy

Nohing to fear nothing to...

oh - that'll be why then.

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Stop

(untitled)

I find pixellation rather annoying, especially when watching Sexcetera.

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Black Helicopters

Ugly police?

Surely the requirement to pixilate the faces of police officers is exactly the same as the erect penis pixilation in the woman's magazine. Looking at them may cause offense to a portion of the population. Nothing to do with security at all.

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Stop

I think...

As the police go about their civil enforcement duties they have a right to protect their privacy.

I suggest that they remove all forms of identification and mask their faces, maybe with a balaclava to avoid being identified or singled out for any reason that might occur.

Annon, because if they can then I can.

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Big Brother

Police identity must be protected...

using clown icons, rather than the black square. Thus we can simultaneously meet the plods' anonymity demands and make a political statement at the same time.

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FAIL

Accountability?

It's a somewhat worrying trend: the G20 demonstrations and police violence illustrated perfectly that when they think they're not identifiable in photos, the police feel that they don't have to be accountable for their actions, be that beating up protestors, setting dogs on sedentary happy clappy climate types or simply not wearing numbers. In a way it suggests that they're above the law... which is a worrying trend, and makes them more akin to secret police than civilian services.

And as for Filament - 'possibly offensive to women' - really?!! T&A is fine in a man's literature magazine, and not offensive to women, but a man's tackle is out of order, in a magazine bought only by women looking ? WTF?!!

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Thumb Down

erm

I agree that the police should not be able to (ab)use their position to ask for sites to be taken down at will, but apart from being "annoying" what exactly is the issue with pixelation? As long as we can identify officers by badge numbers (it's a different issue if they don't wear them) why do we need to see their faces? Especially if the original (unpixelated) image still remains in existence.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Flame

Re: Amazingly one sided stuff

I'm getting sick of the way the police are portrayed as if they're helpless victims of the nasty bogeymonsters, just needing to be protected. I find such attempts to play the sympathy card on their behalf (or are they astroturfing?) truly disgusting.

Firstly, this nonsense about photography (and the tall photographer wasn't even photographing police originally) isn't going to protect any police or their families from criminals. If criminals want to target police or their families at home, they're not going to be stopped by laws that only work as long as those criminals abide by the law. Criminals break the law, after all.

And they're hardly likely to make it obvious that they're photographing police, either. They're not going to stick their cameras in the faces of the police, they'll hide their cameras instead.

The idea that these silly - and often unlawful - restrictions on photography protect poor, innocent, vulnerable police officers and their families is just nonsense. Just a very little thought reveals how useless such safeguards must be. I'm not fooled by such pathetic propaganda trotted out in defence of arrogant, out of control police.

There are already laws to protect people - not just police, but everyone - from criminals. If those laws aren't good enough for the police, they're not good enough for the rest of us, either. The State and their agents should eat their own dog food. That itself is a very important democratic safeguard, but one that Seán and other police sympathisers don't seem to have any understanding of.

The police are not somehow superior to the rest of us as Seán paints them to be. Yes, I appreciate that they have volunteered (which means it's ultimately with their consent, so they can quit if they can't take the heat) to serve and protect us. But that doesn't give them the right to set themselves up as our superiors. Would-be heroes that do that are villains instead. (It's a bit like Anakin Skywalker turning to the dark side in his efforts to make the galaxy a better, safer place.)

The police badly need to be put back in their place. They're not protecting us if they're becoming tyrants themselves.

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Big Brother

One rule for them...

While the police seem to be able to dig into any aspect of our private lives they like at the drop of a hat, their own privacy is more and more closely protected - especially zealously, it seems, when they are already partially concealing their identities by removing numbers or wearing balaclavas, as at the G20. The more police tactics descend into the moral pit, the more they will indeed need pixellating to avoid off-duty encounters with their victims - a rather self- fulfilling prophecy.

They need to be brought very, very firmly back into line before their actions create the kind of mass disorder they claim to be trying to prevent.

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Protesting too much

Sean,

I am very sorry if I have spoilt your Monday morning. But it certainly was not my intention to be quite as lopsided as you seem to think I have been.

The bit in the article which quotes the Met might provide a clue to that. I wrote: "Chief Superintendent Bill Tillbrook, claimed that publication of such pictures created a security risk and instanced cases where police who had been identified were subsequently subject to abuse."

That is pretty clear.. I also explained that at present the official police line seems to be that senior officers would prefer the press NOT to publish pics of police in highly sensitive/security roles - such as armed response units: but they are pretty laid back about everywhere else. Therefore what is going on right now is a bit of a push from below, with (a few) ordinary beat coppers desirous of anonymity, and (also a few) misinterpreting anti-terror legislation to create the belief that they are entitled to such anonymity.

In parallel with that, a fair few magazines and newspaper editors seem to be prepared to go along with these demands - sometimes when they are quite unreasonable.

As for risks to police officer and family: if you really wish to do harm to an individual, then the simplest way to do so is to follow them home from the station. Sorted.

I think you are being a tad paranoid.

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Big Brother

Re : Seán

Criminal harrasment of police officers and their families has happened for as long as there have been police officers. This is nothing new at all.

What is new is the habit of officers removing their shoulder patches or hiding their offical numbers with black tape. When they do this they are then out of uniform and as such are not 'police officers', merely just dressed like a policeman.

The reason that the police have these number badges is so that they CAN be identified by the public. A reason many service officers would desperately like us to forget.

I wonder if there is a serving officer reading these comments who would be brave enough to clarify the current crop of plod's views on this isssue.

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Anonymous Coward

Unscientific

"Head of CO19, Chief Superintendent Bill Tillbrook, claimed that publication of such pictures created a security risk and instanced cases where police who had been identified were subsequently subject to abuse".

Did he take the elementary precaution of studying a control group of police officers to see if they were subjected to abuse - and if so, whether it was more or less than that directed at those in the pictures?

What happened to the popular wisdom that "all publicity is good publicity"?

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Happy

erm...

Not that you can see it very well but here's a picture of me on duty posted online by my force! So they're not that worried about publishing images etc...

http://www.southyorks.police.uk/workforus/specials/history

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well said AC 11:53

"The reason that the police have these number badges is so that they CAN be identified by the public..."

...but also identifiable in a way that protects the officer from being traced by the public except through official channels (only the police service has the "key" that decodes numbers into individual names).

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Big Brother

"just dressed like a policeman"

Further to AC at 11:53GMT above:

I wonder whether a police officer hiding their number etc. could be prosecuted fro impersonating a police officer?

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Terminator

I for one welcome our new Combine overlords

All this ringing round and threatening journalists must take up a lot of police manhours. Wouldn't it be simpler if the police wore full face masks a la Half Life 2?

As an additional benefit, the problem that some citizens have been reading up on how to deal with police - what to say, when to say it, etc - is nullified if the citizen can't understand what you're saying.

"Ek bik oop derk. *pkkk* "

"What?"

"*pkkk* Ek bik oop derk! *boop-boop-boop*"

"I can't understand what you're accusing me of."

*cattle prod*

@Sean:

"It's interesting that you make no attempt to present the "other side" in this article. If police can be traced back to where they live that leaves them and their families open to intimidation by criminal types. You seem to give this no consideration as though it was an unimportant point."

It is an unimportant point. When would a criminal type ever have cause to be annoyed at a police officer? Don't say "if they tried to arrest them", this is modern policing in the UK we're talking about, not your Dixon of bloody Dock Green fantasy bullshit.

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Anonymous Coward

@Protesting too much

I'm married to a copper. My partner lives in a state of semi-permanent fear of being attacked at work. Can you imagine turning up at a job not knowing if the nutter in a house full of weapons is going to attack you or not; if you overreact you'll be pilloried by the press and your friends, if you under-react you'll be in hospital or dead?

There are some minor crooks on our estate, just like any estate. Wife-beaters, arsonists, shoplifters, joyriders. They are the sort of people who wouldn't stand up for anything in public, but are happy to chuck a brick through a window, smash the car or chuck a petrol bomb through the door at night. It can, and does, happen - and has happened to a friend of ours.

We live in a different town to work to reduce the possibility of anyone finding out.

Taking off shoulder numbers is unacceptable. We both agree. It's been going on for a long time though - I saw it at the Poll Tax protests too (as did a BBC film crew, but neglected to report it) . Most coppers outside of the Met hate what the Met did at the G20 and at Stockwell. One of the laws of policing is "just when everything's going well the Met will f**k it up".

Even outside the Met there's a culture of abusing the position, things like stopping of yellow lines to get lunch etc, that I find offensive, but it isn't worth getting someone killed over.

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Coat

Re: "just dressed like a policeman"

Here's an idea for future protests (and other occasions).

1. Get a high visibility jacket, and other suitable clothing.

2. Dress like a police officer, but not as a police officer. Like, but not as.

3. Cover certain parts of your clothing, including high visibility jacket, with tape, as if concealing something.

4. ?????

5. PROFIT!

If you're not displaying police markings, how are you impersonating a police officer? Is it by hiding nonexistent markings under tape? Unless the police are hiding their official markings under tape, how would your alleged impersonation of a police officer work?

If you're not impersonating a police officer, then who are those other people, similarly dressed, with tape covering parts of their clothing? What reason does anyone have to believe they're police officers? When they claim - despite their lack of official markings - to be police, aren't they then impersonating police officers?

Basically, subvert what the police are doing to turn it back on them. Give them a Catch-22 to wrestle with. Like in martial arts, turn their abuses back on them.

(While I haven't read the book, and have only seen the film, the thing I really like about Catch-22 is the way Yossarian finally defeats the original Catch-22 by resorting to a Catch-22 in response. Genius!)

I also like the idea of protesters wearing high visibility jackets with the word "PUBLIC" (in white on blue, police-style,) on the back. So when the police trot out the old excuse of having to protect the public...

No need to say what mine is.

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Anonymous Coward

Police and Badge Number's

My borther was an office in the Met for 30 years. He used to travel by undergound to work, dressed in uniform but without his badge numbers on - as a sign that he was not on duty. Once at the station, he would put on the shoulder tabs as he was then on duty.

With regard to getting 'abuse' - if he was on duty it was part of his job. When he was at home with wife and kids, if anything untoward happened he would call 999 like anyone else.

If it was somethinge major, he would have had a direct number of his local nick and the 'lads' would have arrivded mob handed. But as mentioned in other posts this kind of thing has always happened.

Anon - just for the sake of it.

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Paris Hilton

pilf

I have a few piccies on my blog under the above heading, no requests for pixellation as yet.

I must say that policepersons of the other gender appear more attractive than they were when I was younger.

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@Protesting too much

I'm paranoid and it's all just a bit of fun. So in the interests of a bit of fun why don't you publish a nice photo of yourself and give the details of your home address and see what happens, bearing in mind that you're just a civilian who may have annoyed a few people in the past but nothing as serious as say fucking them in prison for 5 years.

The police are the ones who stand up to the shitheads and arrest them then stand up in court and present evidence and get the criminal locked up for a few years. Do that again and again for a few years and consider how many people would be very interested in knowing your home address and would be prepared to do something about it (being criminals and ex-cons thanks to you).

Unlike an episode of Starsky and Hutch memories don't get wiped every episode and old scores settled every season. A Police may make the decision to take a stand against crime but their family shouldn't have to suffer because some douchebag wants to take a nice picture.

As for all the fuckwits who feel sulky because they got their heads cracked at some pro lentil nonsense fest, I couldn't give a fuck about you.

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Silver badge

Why not...

... just modify Police Helmets so the officer's face can't be seen.

Then just give them an ID badge they can display on their chests...

http://www.myfreewallpapers.net/comics/wallpapers/judge-dredd-simon-bisley.jpg

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