back to article Oppressed snappers focus on police in London and Chatham

Relations between police and photographers, already at an all-time low, look set to worsen this week as activists set up a new national campaign group to protect photography, and protesters get ready to take to the streets in Chatham. The national campaign launched last Saturday in the Foundry pub in East London, with more …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Day out... not a protest!

    Make sure that this is organised as a day trip, or outing, for photographers. That way the police can't arrest anyone for it being a unauthorised protest.

    No officer, we're simply a thousand people on a day out. You don't ban tourists with cameras visiting your lovely town do you? Oh, you do! Fantastic, I can't wait to tell the papers, news channels and blogs about this!

    GO for it!

  2. jake Silver badge


    From little acorns ...

    Sometimes I wonder what would happen today if I tried to do the photography thing that I did back in the 1970s, in and around the UK's historical bits & bobs ... and then I ask myself how much has really changed since I photographed that stuff in the glorious detail that I did.

    Politicians are clueless. It's a fact of life. But then the facts of life aren't taught in school anymore, are they?

    Keep on snapping, photogs, the future WILL appreciate it :-)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    The Law

    Doesn't the law clearly state that in a public area you can take pictures or video of anything you want to, no matter what or who it is.

    Only rule I thought was that if you have a person in the picture you are now allowed to use them to promote a product or service without their prior written permission?

    I'm no expert though and this is just what I have always thought the law was without looking it up. Can anybody post a comment explaining if and where I am wrong there?

    Only time I see it could cause that much concern is if you were taking pictures of locations of camera etc, because theres not going to really be many reasons to do that.

    I don't see the problem with giving the police your name though, if they ask then tell them. Not like they are demanding to take a swab of your mouth or get your fingerprints. But I don't know the full story about the guy who was arrested.

  4. dunncha

    I would attend...

    But I would be afraid of the Police taking my photograph and using it against me.

    Megaphone: Fight the Power

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's special about photographers

    The rozzers stop and search a million people using Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 each year.

    2% of the population EACH YEAR, 1% of the population are subject to RIPA warrantless surveillance, and NuLabour who brought about this abomination cannot fix it because they would lose face and have to admit they were wrong.

    There's nothing special about photographers, everyone is a potential terrorist in this brave 'Nu' world and the more you complain about it, the more they'll say you are a threat to the UK.

  6. D Moss Esq

    Think back 229 years

    I refer to the biography of William Blake by GE Bentley Jr, The Stranger from Paradise: A Biography of William Blake, pp.58-60.

    Blake trained at the Royal Academy. Circa September 1780, he and two friends (Stothard and Parker) sailed down to Chatham to do some sketching.

    Bentley quotes from the biography of Stothard written by his daughter-in-law:

    "... they were suddenly surprised by the appearance of some soldiers, who very unceremoniously made them prisoners, under the suspicion of their being spies for the French government; as this country was then at war with France. In vain did they plead that they were only there sketching for their own amusement; it was insisted upon that they could be doing nothing less than surveying for purposes inimical to the safety of Old England."

    Tip for tomorrow: a messenger was sent to the Academy, which vouched for its three students and they were released.

  7. The Metal Cod

    A simple saying

    Vigilance Does Not Excuse Stupidity

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the V for Vendetta mask deliberate?

    I'm completely with the photographers here, but the front page of their website is pretty bloody intimidating! Imagine having that lot pointing their SLRs at you!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I don't know what all the fuss is about.

    Chatham is a rather, shall we say, destitute place, full of not particularly pleasant people driven by drink and drugs.

    It also has an Arts 'University' (i say university losely) full of scruffy, unwashed, drink and drug fuelled students.

    Police see a scruffy guy with a very very expensive camera, and i'm guessing they wonder whether they've just run off with it from the Cash Converters up the road.

    People have said that they will boycott Chatham in the future because of this. In reality, you wouldn't want to go there anyway.

  10. Spot the Cat

    @ AC 09:49 Last paragraph

    Hear, hear, sir!

    But still wish I could be there tomorrow. Hope y'all have a great day and we look forward to the pictures. (Hmmm....)

  11. asiaseen

    @ I don't know...

    "(i say university losely) full of scruffy, unwashed, drink and drug fuelled students."

    Isn't a university by definition?

  12. J Warren
    Thumb Up

    Banner Image

    The banner image was taken at the event outside New Scotland Yard when s76 - which makes it illegal to photograph a police officer - came into force earlier this year, More info:

  13. hexx

    chiswick park

    try to take some photos in chiswick park :) you'll have few security guys on your neck and there's no sign/warning that you're not allowed to take photos. crap

  14. Dapprman

    Your aging of this group is wrong

    The campaign has been officially going for over 4 weeks now and is using flikr to host the pictures of togs holding up the signs.

    I do suggest all togs on here check out the site and consider joining.

  15. JMB

    Comments on: Oppressed snappers focus on police in London and Chatham

    Senior police officers seem to be as keen on promoting themselves as much as politicians so the media should comply with the law and put a black bar to obscure the face of any police officer shown in a picture or interview (better still a "clown face"). Local papers should do the same for the supposedly friendly neighbourhood "bobby" who will appear regularly in their pages.

  16. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    "encouraged to upload a self-portrait"

    That self-portrait will go straight on a government database, labeled "possible political trouble maker", in the following categories: e.g. (A) Freedom of speech. (B) Freedom of moment. (C) Likely to feel association with other anti-government control freedom seeking groups. Then each time government photographers photograph protesting crowds, this person will be highlighted, even without being asked "Papers please". Also their associations through any form of communications will be checked, to find out if they communicate with any other known anti-government group members, which would then show they were also loyal and prone to want to help these other groups.

    Being on that list will also automatically green light more stringent checking and rechecking of that person in their daily life. Self employed? ... ok check more closely their tax returns and bank account transactions, with who, when and why. Traveling abroad? ... When, where and how often. Phoning someone, who and are they also on the lists, and if so, what affiliations do they have. All of it designed to keep checking and make their lives that much more difficult and distracted by things to worry about. The distraction combined with government PR spin, is designed to divide and conquer groups of people to sow division in groups. Large groups can stand against the government. Small fragmented groups are no real problem to oppose. Its also often called Divide and Rule and its a well known political tactic.

    All these checks means that if a person picks up enough anti-government tags, then they start to take an even closer look at you. They then become a known political trouble maker. This time, if your group is stopped and a computer check against your name is found, they then stop you and question your actions... so much for freedom. Papers please. These photographers have just won themselves some more anti-government tags.

    All of this already happens. It doesn't matter that its a very imperfect system. It doesn't need to be perfect for it to work stochastically. Its after all a numbers game. If a few people slip through it doesn't matter. Being in power means learning how to control millions of people in a country. They care little for individuals. They only care about large groups of people forming and then moving together against the people in power, as large groups have the power to oppose the will of the people in power. This is why they watch and even try to restrict groups like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). It has 2 million members. When 2 million people get behind a cause (e.g. the environment) and then complain about it, (say a new runway) then the rest of the UK is very likely to hear the views of these 2 million members in the media and so 2 million can become 5 or 10 million against the government. Therefore if the RSPB is planning any campaigns it makes sense the government is able to be forewarned about what the campaigns will be and where large numbers of their members are traveling, so the government can be ready to counter PR spin their views to silence protests against the government. Its all part of the political game of Opposition research.

    Its political chess moves like Divide and Rule, and Opposition Research is why most people don't see or understand the real reasons why politicians do the things they do. Its simply treating political rule like military warfare tactics. They are suppose to be representing us but they are not. They keep showing they want the personal gain they get from such power over us all.

    So the government will be watching this move by the Photographers but not for the reasons the Photographers hope. The most effective way for this group to win concessions from the government is to join forces with other freedom groups. The government will be watching for chess moves like this and if it grows large with enough people protesting, then the government will come out and say, we back the rights of the Photographers, and everyone cheers and is happy and goes home. The government at that point has won, because then they have fragmented the once unified groups back into small groups again, meanwhile dozens of new government ways to undermine and control our lives will be quietly slipping past most people. Until eventually another group stands up and speaks out against the government who will in turn, placate that group while yet more government moves slip by unnoticed. Ultimately overall the government is getting most of what it wants and that is the key to their real game. They want to win *most moves*, getting what they want, most of the time. But what they want is what they always want, which is ever more power to dictate how others should live their lives and all the personal gain that power gives them. More power, more personal gain. The real danger is that as technology keeps improving the people in power are just going to keep taking (as they keep showing) every new technology they can to get what they want. More power.

    It doesn't matter what new technology comes along. That isn't the real problem. The core problem is there are some people in every society around the world who endlessly wish to gain and maintain power over other peoples lives, ultimately for their own gain. Their endless desire for power is the root problem and that will never end and so as technology keeps improving, their desire for power will become ever more problematic for us all. It inevitable and so sooner or later, everyone is going to have to stand up to the government and say no more. The destruction of privacy and the ever increasing state control will continue until everyone opposes the core will of the government. The only question is when, not if this happens, because sadly their desire for power will never end. This has happened throughout history, but now we are faced with ever more information technology which the people in power show they want ever more. The war on terror combined with modern technology is going to drag us all into a level of state control unlike the world has ever seen before because data mining technology and methods are getting ever better.

    What these photographers are doing currently is about as effective as a small rodent throwing a small stone at the foot of a giant dinosaur. The dinosaur may end up looking down at the rodent, and if they are enough trouble it'll react, but other than that, it cares little for their small games, its got far bigger goals in mind.

  17. Dapprman
    Thumb Up

    On my previous comments

    Looks like this is a separate campaign from done by the British Press Photographer's Association. Why they're doing a separate one when there's already a well supported and regarded campagn I can't think

  18. Jimbo 6
    Big Brother

    Re: The Law (AC, 09:04 GMT)

    "Only time I see it could cause that much concern is if you were taking pictures of locations of camera etc, because theres not going to really be many reasons to do that."

    In case you'd not noticed, just about every central street in every town in Britain is bristling with both official & private (i.e. business) surveillance cameras, meaning that we-the-public can't take a photo in an urban environment *without* snapping a CCTV camera.

    What makes the whole thing even more ridiculous is that if I actually wanted to know where all the CCTV was, in order to commit some heinous crime, I'd just look on Google Street View.

    (Perhaps we could talk the cops into arresting Google - then everyone would be happy !)

    BB cos I LOVE HIM.

  19. Sarah Davis

    why don't you riff raff just shut up ?

    the new laws are right. You cannot have any Tom, Dick, or Harry photographing and reporting on police brutality, it's not good the police or their public image. Police crime must be kept under wraps for the good of the country. The same goes for photgraphing M.P's who have committed criminal acts, they should not be photgraphed, named and shamed as it's really not good for the party. For many many decades the police and M.P's have been able to get away with all sorts of crimes from planting evidence, brutality, to corruption and awarding themselves 'bonuses'. Recently the tip of the ice-burg was exposed and the moment the wool is pulled over the eyes og joe public he wants to take photos - this will not stand, this cannot stand, and this will not stand!

    If the public are allowed to take photos then this is tantamount to policing the police. The police would be forced to do their job honestly. M.P's would be forced to do their job honestly. This is Britain, the home of political corruption and police crime, this is our bloody heritage - what next ? Abolishing slavery ?? (by which i mean low wages, long hours, and a ridiculously high cost of living, bank charges, and housing) - think this through people. You've not made much of a fuss during the past 200 years, and lets face it you've never seen your public compaints through to conclusion. You've let the bankers off with their crimes, and most MP's of the past, and you will do the same here, so this whole 'protest' is just a waste of everyone's time. Why not just give up and moan in your beer like you always do.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    In Chathams Defence

    1) If your specialism is photos of fake gold you will not get a better picture of a Chav anywhere in the UK (icon of a troll? ahh that's better)

    2) the local paper reports that the 99p shop has just started selling adult porn... go on, guess how much..

    a small explosion would greatly improve the highstreet, so not terrorism - urban planning!

  21. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    @AC 14th August 2009 09:04

    "I don't see the problem with giving the police your name though, if they ask then tell them." - AC 14th August 2009 09:04.

    The problem is, it's a slow but inexorable erosion of our liberties, and a slow, equally inexorable extension to the powers of Plod - granted to themselves by themselves, without the authority of the legislature.

    Theoretically at least, Plod polices us WITH OUR CONSENT, and has power(s) granted by the Legislature i.e. our elected representatives TO WHOM PLOD IS (or should be) ACCOUNTABLE.

    Setting themselves above this is the ideal blueprint towards a totalitarian police state - and although the point in question may initially seem intrinsically innocuous, remember the old Chinese saw "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

  22. janimal

    @ AC 09:49

    I can see from your impeccable spelling you obviously attended some grand red brick university.

    Chatham was screwed when they shut down the naval dockyard and closed the barracks, so yes it has become pretty grubby and depressing. However, historically it was a highly important strategic area for many hundreds of years.

    It provides some excellent opportunities to juxtapose the ancient and lacklustre modernity.

    It's current state makes an excellent photographic statement for the cancer of our times.

    Saying that, I don't live there anymore mind :)

  23. Catkins

    @AC 14th August 2009 09:04

    "I don't see the problem with giving the police your name though, if they ask then tell them. Not like they are demanding to take a swab of your mouth or get your fingerprints" .AC 14th August 2009 09:04.

    The police have admitted that the data collected during Stop 'n' Search under section 44 is retained on each force's criminal intelligence database. Retention times vary by force from 7 years to life. The Met Police version is Crimint, with some details here:

    Still unconcerned?

    Of course this is what happens in the normal course of things. Imagine what would happen if you gave your details and 24 hours later a bomb went off in that area. You'd probably spend the next 28 days at the wrong end of a truncheon in Paddington Green.

  24. CD001

    Why not just give up and moan in your beer...









    Give it another year or two and you'll probably be able to add a few more names to the list.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lowest confidence in the police for thirty years

    I don't think the police have been this untrusted since Mrs T used them as her own private army to beat up the striking miners.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @ janimal

    Some of us may have attended a wolly-technic, but at least we know the difference between "its" and "it's"

    Mine's the one with the Skoggin's Elementary Primer of English Grammar" in the pocket

  27. Catkins

    @AC 12:14 Lowest confidence in the police for thirty year

    "I don't think the police have been this untrusted since Mrs T used them as her own private army to beat up the striking miners"

    Changes in police attitudes and changes in the law mean that a law-abiding individual is now more likely to have a negative contact with the police.

    There are more laws to fall foul of than ever before, there is a far lower threshold to being arrested than ever before, and the system is implemented by police officers who are now judged on the numbers of arrests they make (see the recent case of the teenager who was arrested and DNA'd for 'theft by finding', when he was at a police station front desk handing in some lost property he'd found).

    You no longer have to be suspected of illegal behaviour to come into contact with the police. The Terrorism Act gives them carte blanche to detain anyone, anywhere, on a whim. You have no legal right to object to a complete stranger turning out your bag, going through your things and giving you a thorough rub down in full public view.

    Although that's not quite as bad as being collateral damage in the war on drugs

    You don't even have to break any law, as many a public photographer will attest. The law is what the police say it is. If you're a snapper, the law is what a spoddy PCSO armed with a flourescent jacket, a walkie talkie and an attitude says it is. In a few months time the law is what certain nightclub bouncers say it is, as they're being brought within the 'police family' and given powers to detain and fine you. This will be fun.

    It no longer matters if you are innocent, contact with the police can and will criminalise you. Even if you are arrested and later proved innocent, your DNA and fingerprints stay on file, and your CRB check counts allegations the same as convictions, excluding you from large areas of employment. The government has enshrined in law the police belief that if they suspect you of being a bad 'un, then you are a bad 'un, they just can't prove it yet.

    The police are not accountable. Even if you don't accept that they are completely above the law (but they're not obeying the European ruling on DNA retention) being a member of the police is a definite barrier to prosecution. The IPCC is a laughable institution, which colludes with the police, most recently in the Tomlinson case. It's so ineffective and corrupt the part of its advisory board representing the legal profession resigned last year in protest.

    Maybe we need a tinfoil hat icon. Actually, maybe not as they are out to get us.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >you obviously attended some grand red brick university.

    The so called red brick universites were the polytechnics of their time and regarded with scorn by those who went to one of the ancient universites.

    @Sarah Davis

    You do realise some people in here do not have any sense of parody and take things literally?

  29. scottboy

    @In Chathams Defence

    2) the local paper reports that the 99p shop has just started selling adult porn... go on, guess how much..

    I'm not sure if this statement indicates that Chatham is getting better or worse - what kind of porn were they selling before?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oppressed snappers

    I'm sure I can help them feel better....

    Oh, wait; you mean photographers.

    Never mind.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Oh bugger, before one of you pedantic gits points it out, I know I spelt universities wrong, twice even. In defence I wish to say I went for an eye test yesterday and was told my near vision is deteriorating.

  32. PerfectBlue


    If you think that it's a problem taking pictures of landmarks, you just try to take a picture of a police officer. Police these days REALLY don't like you having pictures of them, or the id numbers on their uniforms. If get stopped by a policeman for anything and you get out your camera and try to take a picture you're going to go from "littering" to "Suspicious of terrorism" in about 10 seconds.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Janimal.

    In fact, no, i did not attend a red brick university. Just one which gives out proper degrees taught by proper teachers who aren't drug addicts and self important bum-fiddlers.

    Chatham does indeed have a very distinguished history, but, as they say, history is all about the past.

  34. John Dougald McCallum


    ........was a hole the last time I was there in the '60's and i don't suppose it will have changed much not that I went there voluntarily I was in the barracks mentioned in an earlier post.

  35. elderlybloke

    A terrorist with half a brain

    would probably use Google aerial photos or the Google street view photos.

    Even wandering past the target would give our Terrorist a lot of information about the place.

    I imagine that Terrorists , well some of them anyway , have some intellect , and can find ways to get photos without broadcasting their intentions to the fuzz , bill or whatever you call them.

    Down here in New Zealand I am not aware of any restrictions like you have.

    Have the law and politicians got as neurotic and paranoid as the Yanks?

    Icon for my OS which will defeat prying eyes out of my computer .

  36. Anonymous Coward

    I was there

    It was a lovely day. The plod were rather obvious by their absence, although I understand there was one who was assigned to us who left very early when he discovered we were just a group of photographers and artist who were out to get some pictures and not a bunch of crazed hooligans with placards.

    The local rag reporter/photographer seemed rather disappointed when he asked "are you going to march on the high street now?" and was sternly told by Alex (Monaxle) that no, that's not what we were there for.

    He was asked if he'd read the website, which emphasises it was a family day out with camera, not a march, and he replied they don't read websites... Explains a lot about the decline of the local press.

    Curious someone mentioned the 99p shop... That was the only place where someone got shirty! We weren't in the shop, we were in the street, and he chose to ask Alex what he thought he was doing. Alex is now rather well versed in his rights!

    Various member of the public came and spoke to us (we obviously weren't too tall or intimidating for them), and were very supportive. Without exception they were shocked that anyone would think taking a photograph of a chippy was qualified for a terrorist charge.

    So a good day was had by all... and we ended up in the pub :-)

  37. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

    MinionZero "encouraged to upload a self-portrait" #

    So what you are saying is little groups are fighting particular little issues rather than the root of the problem which is state control of our lives?

    I think you will find that most people are aware of at least one aspect that's hitting them personally, be it Health And Safty not allowing pallbearers at a funeral or the school not allowing partents to take photos at the school play.

    People are joining these dots and seeing the picture emmerge.

    Central control in most of it's forms is still promoted at 'the solution' to our problems, be that ridding the NHS of the 'Post Code Lottery' in treatment availability or creating a currency which works in all countries.

    We can agree to co-ordinate actions and laws or we could chose to be different. It's not nessasary for there to be a single central controling point at the top of one huge pyramid.

  38. Hugh_Pym

    @Wayland Sothcott 1

    For someone who doesn't trust the state you seem to trust the papers quite a lot. They're the ones who want to control your life (and appear to be succeeding).

    Most of the reported 'Health And Safety gone mad' that is reported is actually 'Compensation culture gone mad' (conkers anybody'?) but that is not the presses current straw man so you get that side of the story. The same with EU legislation. (straight bananas = made up story by Euro phobic press)

    School play? a. They school want to sell the video and b. Some parents are worse that a pap pack. You can't actually see the play for the photo flashes going all the time.

    NICE was set up to end the so called 'post code lottery'. All they get is criticism for suggesting that the NHS can't afford £10M a week to potentially slightly improve the health of one individual with unproven medication that the drug companies want the NHS to pay far more for than they charge everybody else.

  39. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    Another one for...

    ... the "Lunatics have taken over the Asylum" files:

    * * * * *

    A MAN who took photos of illegally-parked cars claims he was stopped and questioned by police while the culprits got away.

    Colin Wilson, 26, lives off Gill Bridge Avenue which runs alongside Sunderland Magistrates' Court and Gill Bridge Police Station.


    Colin took photographs of vehicles parked directly opposite the court entrance.

    He said officers came out of the station and tried to stop him taking pictures of the cars, asked him for ID and asked to look at his camera.

    * * * * *

    You just can't make this stuff up.

  40. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: The Law

    Yes. I believe that a certain large company with a penchant for strapping camera towers onto oppressed Opels used this very argument to get the privacy fetishists laughed out of court.

    Still, one law for us, one for the big boys with potloads of cash and smart lawyers. I dunno why the filth don't cut out the middle man here and just take bribes. Seems to be a system that works well in quite a siginficant chunk of the rest of the EU. Sometimes I miss being able to negotiate a "fine"......

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