back to article No snapping: Photographers get collars felt

Fancy getting your camera out this Bank Holiday weekend? Best be careful who you point it at. For instance, don’t go taking snaps of unmarked police cars. This was the mistake made by amateur photographer David Gates, who photographed a Police BMW parked illegally at a bus stop in Portsmouth, Hants. Before you could say “ …

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  1. johnB
    Black Helicopters

    Police powers

    The argument "if you've done nothing wrong...." simply isn't good enough.

    Over the years, politicians have enacted so many laws that it's impossible for us all to be 100% law-abiding or for the police to enforce them all. So in practice it boils down to which laws the police choose, or are leant on, to enforce.

    What the cameras do is create a library of potential offenders that the authorities can trawl through at their leisure safe in the knowledge that they'll be able to find <something>

    This is an approach that Kafka would recognise & the Stasi approve of.

  2. Richard Porter
    Black Helicopters

    Unmarked Police Car?

    I would have thought that if you were in an unmarked police car the last thing you would want to do is give away its identity by jumping out and arresting anyone who just happens to include it in a photograph.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @No snapping

    >For instance, don’t go taking snaps of unmarked police cars.

    Um, do we assume all cars are now unmarked police cars.

    One for WJ me thinks, no doubt followed by a statement from D.O.P.E

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I'm not in favour...

    ...of ambulance-chasing lawyer types, but I wonder whether this is a case where one might come in handy. Obviously, I don't know the details of the specific cases, but I wonder whether there would be grounds for any kind of wrongful arrest or harassment civil liberties case against the officers or forces concerned.

    Remember people - with certain exceptions and provisos, taking photos in a public place in the UK is NOT illegal. There's a useful photographer's rights guide at:

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

    I'm not affiliated with that site/guide in any way - just found it one day and thought it might be useful. I also don't know how up-to-date it is with the latest legislation since it's a few years old now. Anyway, there are bound to be others out there.

    I always wondered what it might be like to be stuck living in a police state. If things keep following the current trend, it looks like we might all be finding out...

  5. Robin Layfield
    Go

    FIT watch - watching them watching you

    I think the police are referring to an organisation called FIT watch, who turn up at demonstrations and document the activities and identities of the Forward Intelligence Team.

    http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com/

    This seems perfectly reasonable to me; having been photographed at demonstrations several times myself, I know how uncomfortable and intimidating it feels. It's good to know that there are still people out there trying to contest the use brash and undemocratic tactics by the Police.

    Bring on the flash photography flash mobs!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Police

    Did the police also mention how they use cameras at demonstrations to wind up protesters?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jacqui Smith was a teacher

    She would stand at the front of the class and order people around using her elevated teachers authority.

    So this

    "teachers are pretty cool about using CCTV to spy on their pupils – even in the toilet – they are a little worried about the appalling notion that the same cameras could be turned on them in the classroom."

    Kind of sounded familiar. Somehow I expect any leader to have held positions where they exercise control by *negotiating* with *adults* on the *same* level in an adult to adult negotiation leading to a consensus, with ideas from both sides, but that's not what we get.

    What you get is someone desparately looking for a textbook to guide her. What you get is someone barking out a lesson plan to pupils. What you get is someone marking scorecards and issuing pass or fail grades. What you get is her justifying her classes poor grades to the headmaster.

    So pipe down in class. Put that cigarette out. No running in the playground. 10 minutes late and you'll get a tardy slip.... or do you want detention? Yes you, I'll put you in detention.

  8. Tony Paulazzo

    Cliche

    Who watches the watchmen?

  9. Erik Olafsen
    Black Helicopters

    Nothing new...

    One law for them, another for us.

    "Don't do as I do, do as I say!"

  10. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    But then again

    But then again , if ten million dear old loveable grannies all pulled out cameras and started taking photographs of everything that crosses their path , nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety times out of ten million , the wowsers won't even say one word to them, merely just look at the dear old loveable granny with the camera and then walk away and go about their normal business as usual as though they did not exist !

    Granny power strikes again !

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    WTF?

    "use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up. Undoubtedly, this happens – although as with any such abuse, perhaps it should be punished appropriately when it does."

    Just because a police officer doesn't like something, doesn't make it illegal. Nor should it.

    It disturbs me that you even try to justify this attitude on their part.

    The general trend of attitude and behaviour of many police officers and forces is extremely negative and I have to say that I don't see it ending well.

    Is anyone surprised that the very loosely worded 'anti-terror' legislation is abused? Not I, what we're seeing is exactly the outcome you'd expect.

    Though it seems we've got to a point where they don't even bother on relying on actual laws to do things...

  12. Alex Threlfall

    Photographers Rights

    The following site has some very useful information on your rights in the UK as a photographer, I carry a copy of it in my camera bag :)

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

  13. Ruairi Newman
    Flame

    What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander indeed.

    "As New Labour increasingly looks to pry into every detail of our private lives, some sort of reciprocal right to peer into theirs seems only fair, doesn't it?"

    Were i in a position to make decisions on monitoring the general public, and had myself been subject to the invasions of privacy and harrassment routinely carried out by the British tabloid media, I would be very much inclined to say "fuck 'em, see how they like it".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Photographing police cars

    It was a marked police car that was photographed at the bus-stop, not an unmarked one.

    http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/Quizzed-over-terrorism-and-all.4332791.jp

  15. n
    Thumb Down

    calling el reg trolls!

    "Of course, there can be legitimate reasons for opposing the use of cameras. In talking to El Reg about the law on photography, several Police Forces made the fair comment that there were individuals who had learnt how to use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up."

    "of course" NOTHING!...."fair comment" NOTHING!

    Taking a picture to wind officers up is illegal then is it?

    So when rodney king was filmed the camera man was winding them up?

    So when Mr Dziekanski was tortured to death in vancouver airport by police the person filming it had his film confiscated because he was "winding officers up" was he?

    Why is reg justifying this position? Disgraceful.

    I want an answer from the usual el reg trolls who sniff around the forums leaving pointless uninformative posts.

    WHERE ARE YOU NOW TROLLS!

  16. Steve

    Piss poor reporting

    "...several Police Forces made the fair comment that there were individuals who had learnt how to use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up."

    They're talking about FITwatchers. When the Forward Intelligence Team turn up at a demo they follow peopl around taking photos and trying to intimidate them. If you try and take a photo of them doing this, they'll nick you for obstruction.

    We pay for the work they do so if they've got nothing to fear, why are they trying to hide their work from the public? And why is the Reg helping them run propaganda on us - when did you go plod?

  17. Daniel
    Dead Vulture

    Are you insane???

    "use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up. Undoubtedly, this happens – although as with any such abuse, perhaps it should be punished appropriately when it does."

    If an officer can be wound up by someone taking photographs of them, then they should be relieved of duty, evaluated, and quite possibly permanently barred from working in any security position, public or private, ever. You can not abuse a police officer by taking pictures of them doing their job, and even suggesting that such a thing is possible undermines your credibility on this topic.

    -Daniel

  18. The Avangelist

    I am waiting day and night

    But I will eventually get the picture which will make me thousands when I sell it to the press. of a smug bastard pig using his mobile phone whilst driving.

    It will happen, I know it happens, I just need it to be in front of me with camera in hand

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Say again?

    > several Police Forces made the fair comment that there were individuals who had learnt how to use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up.

    Am I the only one seeing the problem in this? Anyone capable of being wound up by having their picture taken should not be in the police farce. End of story.

  20. skeptical i

    CCTV in classrooms

    Hmmm, given (a) recent news -- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/17/gossip_work_check/ -- that CRB checks can now contain allegations, assertions, and vague fingerpointings that did not result in arrest, and (b) that CRB checks will be required for just about every possible employment under the sun if it might ever involve contact with vulnerable populations, perhaps teachers might welcome CCTV in the classrooms to stand as witness against twerps who might make retaliatory baseless allegations against teachers who dare give shite classwork a failing grade. Not that this is an especially positive development overall.

    Ditto perplexion as to why undercover cops would call attention to themselves by arresting a photographing passer-by, wtf? These same cops would probably welcome such evidence of law- breaking by mere citizens.

  21. Ted Treen
    Coat

    The voice of experience

    Nobody - but NOBODY is as fascist, authoritarian and downright dictatorial as the left, once they come into power.

    Maggie (amongst others - not least Reagan) had the wonderful idea that "Small government is best".

    How they were vilified, and subject to character assassination by the left through the most outrageous, cynical and blatant untruths and most of the rest of us, led by the superior, condescending liberal twats at the BBC just accepted it.

    In the same way, Broon thinks that if he chants "Prudence" at us often enough, it will stick in our minds and the word will automatically be associated with him.

    I'm hoping that those of us who were never fooled will coalesce with those upon whom realisation is dawning, and ensure that these idiots who take "1984" for an instruction guide are removed ASAP, and these Stasi-like controls and restrictions are consigned to the dustbin.

    Alas, I feel that it may be too late even for another Maggie, and perhaps another Wat Tyler (with greater success this time) is needed.

    Mine's the one that's been in the cloakroom for the last 42 days...

  22. Justin Maxwell
    Stop

    WTF reprise

    "It disturbs me that you even try to justify this attitude on their part."

    Felt it was worth repeating...

  23. NT
    Joke

    @ John Ozimek

    Oh, and one more thing (if they've published my last, that is; otherwise this is just 'one thing'):

    "Mr Carter was abused, had his camera knocked to the ground, arrested, bundled into the van and finally held in police cells for five hours."

    What was Mr Carter doing while the police were arresting his camera, bundling it into a van and holding it in a cell for five hours?

  24. W
    Black Helicopters

    Pledge

    You might like to play along with this one at where you are...

    I get the train to and from work.

    The station near my home is in a city centre and has the expected few CCTV cameras.

    The station near my work is in a satellite town. An unassuming little stop. But there are a quite surprising number of CCTV cameras. I'm presuming that the rerason is one of public safety in terms of personal attacks.

    Whatever.

    As a matter of interest, I'm going to try and muster the balls to keep taking cameraphone pictures of the CCTV cameras in full view of thos cameras and see if they take the bait. I've already done it a couple of times. But it's surprisingly easy to feel guilty about something that is entirely innocent once someone random comes along gives you a funny look.

    But I've got nothing to... etc ... and if they've got nothing to ...etc. ;-)

    We're in public. 'They' can snap me on the proviso that I snap 'them'.

    'They're' supposed to be keeping tabs on folk breaking the law, not folk with nothing better to do than take pics of CCTV.

    So let's make a new pastime out of snapping CCTV cameras. Create a few Flickr groups etc etc. Make a 'thing' of it. Just for the sheer obtuse joy of it.

    It's not civil disobedience, it's civil eccentricity.

  25. Bill Cumming
    Alert

    Ever watched the TV reality Police shows..

    Every time a suspect is caught on camera in "Police,Stop Action", "Road Wars" or the latest police clip show on SKY, in the UK and they complain about the Film crew pointing a camera in their faces, the plod with the cuffs is always quick to say "They are in a public area and can film what they like!"

    So it's OK to film people being man handled if the film makers are with the police (i.e. plod friendly view) rather than a member of the public shooting a normal daily scene...

    Orwell would be spinning in his grave if he didn't see this coming.....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paparazzi activity is a different matter though

    "Were i in a position to make decisions on monitoring the general public, and had myself been subject to the invasions of privacy and harrassment routinely carried out by the British tabloid media, I would be very much inclined to say "fuck 'em, see how they like it"."

    Nice try but the motive for increasing surveillance of the public has nothing to do with getting even with paparazzi activity.

    If politicians wanted to put a stop to the paparazzi problem they could very easily tax them out of business: Impose an extremely heavy tax on the sale and publishing of close up photos of celebrities or persons otherwise in the public spotlight with a provision that the tax is automatically to be waived if written permission has been obtained from the individual shown on the photo, for example:

    1) tax on sale of photo to newspaper: 10000% but not less than £1m

    2) tax on printing the photo: £10 per copy

    3) tax on posting the photo on news/blog website: 10£ per hit or 110% of advertising revenue whichever is the higher

    ==> paparazzi problem solved

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Counting down

    Perhaps the UK police should learn to control their fear of photography. Otherwise they run the risk, four years from now, of attracting unfavourable comparisons with the current regime in China.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Shrinkage of Rights

    I think we should rename Britain to China.

  29. Keith T

    Starting to see the same in Canada

    We are starting to see the same attitude by police in some cities in Canada:

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/story/4216362p-4809372c.html

    (snip)

    In Winnipeg this week an amateur photographer alleged police confiscated his camera's memory card when they detained him.

    Both incidents highlight the way police respond to being caught on tape in a new technological reality.

    The B.C. lawyer who helped Paul Pritchard get back his video of a Polish man who died after being repeatedly Tasered by Vancouver Mounties said the Winnipeg photographer has the option of taking the Winnipeg Police Service to court.

    Paul Pearson said police face added scrutiny today because of the proliferation of cameras.

    "It's much more timely and common because virtually everyone now is walking around with cameras in their pockets, because of cellphones."

    He also said police should be open to the added attention.

    "The police hold a special position in our country. They have special powers, they carry weapons, they can take people into custody, they can do all kinds of things... If they're in the public, they should be open, and not resistant, to being recorded."

    One expert said a rush towards "video democracy" has accelerated since the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles in 1991.

    "It only partly works because police often have a certain amount of power in controlling the situation if there is video footage and film out there that might make them look bad," said Aaron Doyle, a Carleton University sociology and anthropology professor, who has written on how technology influences policing.

    In the Winnipeg case, amateur photographer Paul St. Laurent, 38, maintains that after he photographed police interacting with car theft suspect they Tasered and arrested Tuesday afternoon in Elmwood, a police officer beckoned him over for questioning.

    St. Laurent said four officers surrounded him, questioned him about biker and gang ties, and lectured him about how taking photos was for professional media only.

    St. Laurent said after about five minutes of questioning, police handcuffed him, put him in the back of a cruiser, and confiscated his Manitoba Liquor Control Commission identification card, digital camera and portable phone after removing the phone's battery in front of him.

    St. Laurent said the camera was returned to him missing a memory card.

    The police have said, repeatedly, they took no property from St. Laurent.

    Pearson said St. Laurent should launch legal action as a last resort.

    "Sometimes it takes the cleansing powers of the courts to try to get through some of these conflicts."

    A motion in Queen's Bench could sort out "very conflicting evidence" presented by witnesses, St. Laurent and police.. Pearson said.

    "If Mr. St. Laurent wants to get on a witness stand, put his hand on a Bible, and say 'That officer took a memory card from me,' it's going to take somebody else to say the exact opposite to refute that. It would be very interesting to see what the various stories are."

    After the incident, a police spokesman said St. Laurent had breached an area where officers were investigating and that the photographer was being obstructive. They said he was detained for his own safety.

    Residents from three Keenleyside Street homes interviewed separately by the Free Press Thursday said St. Laurent was at least 30 feet from where the suspect had already been handcuffed by police.

    "All (the officer) had to do was just give it back to me... It comes down to my word against his," St. Laurent said.

    He said Thursday he wasn't sure he can afford a lawyer to represent him. "I don't know if it's worth spending thousands of dollars to get a $30 chip back."

    St. Laurent said he has filed a complaint with the Winnipeg police professional standards unit.

    He said if he was in the same situation again, he would not take the photos, because he now understands that officers are afraid photos taken by civilians could be used by gang members to identify them and hurt them.

    Officers told St. Laurent he could have accidentally identified a young offender -- which is forbidden by law. The man being Tasered was 21, but that was not known at the time.

    Pearson also said getting in the way of police work is "totally unacceptable" and people should provide copies of photos or videos if police request them.

    "The difference comes ... where their desire goes from access to exclusive access and suppression."

    In the Vancouver airport incident Pritchard was a bystander who lent his footage to RCMP to copy, and then had to launch a legal battle to get it back.

    (snip)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Ruairi Newman

    Exactly. I can also be very interesting if someone starts to document every single instance of police powers abuse when such a picture is taken.

    The ultimate end of that approach is being served a bullet when you take a picture of another Mendez, so it should be stopped before then..

    It's time to put the terrorist argument back in the closet where it belongs: an exception rather than rule. I can't remember such malarky and abuse of power in London during 10 years of IRA campaigning, so why is this supposed to be different?

    Paris, because she knows all to well how cameras and police power can be abused

  31. Keith T
    Alert

    drifting towards a police state

    We are slowly drifting towards a police state here in Canada.

    In recent years it has sounded like New Labour is rushing the UK towards a police state.

  32. Alan Potter
    Unhappy

    Politics by name has nothing to do with it.

    I get extraordinarily bored with postings that say "New" (or even worse) "Nu" Labour are to blame for everything. Does anybody really think things would be different if the Tories or the LibDems or even the Raving Monster Loony Party were in power?

    We have a ruling party that we have very little, if any, power over and it doesn't matter what they call themselves. Their closeness to the doctrines of their underlying political philosophy is embarrassingly difficult to spot. Does anyone, for one moment, believe that whomever takes over at the next general election will rip out all the CCTV and/or the speed cameras that they have been deriding this government about? Of course not. They'll just breathe a sigh of relief that someone else got to do the dirty work that they intended to do.

    At least, at the moment, we still believe that we have some form of freedom of speech, although how much effect that freedom actually has on our lives is probably regrettably very little. But the tabloids give us "bread and circuses" which shuts most people up, sadly.

  33. Max
    Flame

    French coppers

    The first time I was in Paris I was getting ready to take a perfect photo of a church with the shadows just right at the time just before the sunset. I was standing away from the church at the opposite end of a foot bridge, I lined up my shot, and before I could stop my finger, 4 coppers started walking on the foot bridge towards me. I had taken the shot of the church with them now annoyingly standing in the foreground. They heard the camera snap and ran up to me. One of them, the ringleader, was very very short and very very aggressive (Napolean complex anyone?). He puffed up his chest and demanded to see my ID and wrote down all the info. All the while the others were surrounding me with their hands on their guns in case I "tried anything". They asked when I was leaving and I told them a week, and they said 'watch out until then'. On their exit they all took the liberty of bumping into me and almost knocking me to the ground. The icing on the cake was that by the time the whole ordeal was over, the sun had set and the light was now gone from my shot.

    Fucking bastards.

  34. Andy Enderby
    Thumb Down

    Thatcher.....

    Thatcher would have been proud. No wonder Brown has been rambling about giving the evil old witch a state funeral. He stole all his favourite policies from her.

  35. dek

    @Ruairi Newman

    What exactly are you saying? That it is understandable that politicians introduce such laws because the poor darlings have been hounded by the press? Assuming you are not trolling and actually believe what you wrote, you need to apply some critical reasoning before making such crass comments.

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Anton Ivanov
    Flame

    Err... Wrong perspective

    It is not the erosion of public liberties which is frightening, it is the fact that the "good old PC statement" is no longer considered sufficient to collar a suspect. It now has to be confirmed by CCTV.

    As a result of this the population is quickly descending into the mental state where "anything is fair game if it is not captured on camera". The UK is no longer a state with a rule of law, it is a state with a rule of the camera. This is most clearly evident in the police behaviour. They will no longer nick you if you are puking all over the sidewalk. However, though shalt not yield the holy artefact of law and order - the camera. If you will, you will get nicked.

    Really sad...

  38. Marvin the Martian
    Stop

    Lies, damn lies, and large numbers.

    You are aware this "4.2million cameras" number is mostly bogus? If you look for sources, normally you just get another page/paper quoting the same number.

    For all I know, they've taken a 200yard stretch of Oxford street, counted cameras, and multiplied it by street lengths in the UK. Or selected street lengths (discarding rural roads). Or divided the number of cameras by the number of pedestrians on the stretch and multiplied it by the British population size. Or otherwise. They being a class of 12y olds on a project, a first year politics student, or any of a number of Quangos (ah, favourite suspects).

    Now, I'm definitely not a reporter so please indulge me and show us the root documents, clarifying the method.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happened to me....

    There was an incident near to where I live. I took a few photos and was then stopped by a PC who wanted all photos deleted - which I did. No reason was given but he knew I wasn't going to be happy in a police van.

    Now, if I have photographic evidence, I won't give it it to the police, I'll just go straight to the press and sell the photos there! Stuff them.

    Looks like the terrorist have won! BTW, how come when the IRA killed 3000 people nowt was really done about it, but when Al Queda Kills 60 in London all hell breaks loose?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The innocent have nothing to fear?

    This applies to everybody, right? Even when politicians say it? So, given that there is arguably sufficient evidence to put Tony Bliar up before the beak for waging an illegal war, let's set a very public example of how we want the country to perceive the forces of law and order and justice (bearing in mind that justice and the law are often unrelated or even opposites at the moment).

    Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Let's make it *mean* something.

    It is time the criminal elements started being afeared of justice, rather than laughing in the faces of their victims as they mostly do today. If the forces of the establishment will not provide justice, then who will?

    Impeach Blair. If he is innocent, he has nothing to fear. If he is found guilty, it will be very very clear that justice still has a meaning in this country, whoever you happen to have as your mates.

  41. I R David

    Other info. on public photography

    I wrote these two articles on the subject of public photography a while ago after requesting info. from the courts and the national police database:

    http://www.chapterthirteen.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=64&Itemid=35

    http://www.chapterthirteen.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=66&Itemid=35

    Recently I have been getting several letters a week from amateur photographers requesting advice after what appear to be wrongful arrests, illegal searches and other forms of harassment. To say I am becoming increasingly disturbed by what appears to be wholesale abuse of police power and deliberate targeting and harassment of photographers is an understatement.

    D

  42. r
    Unhappy

    how do I know i have nothing to hide

    until someone draws attention and arrests me for it. It appears taking photos is now 'something to hide'.

    That is the fundemental flaw of a host of laws acting under the banner of terrorism and anti-social behaviour.

    And that is the main problem with any form of ID card. Say i trust this goverment with all my details in one place which can easily be accessed at any point by anyone they see fit without my knowledge, once that information is there I am trusting all future goverments for as long as I exist. Also, I have no right to know what information is held about me.

    To me that is like jumping into a pit I cant see the bottom of as I trust there is something to break my fall at the bottom. Put it this way, jewish people had nothing to hide in germany to the nazi party came into power....

    I have nothing to hide right now. If dont change my behaviour or what I own, then at any point in the future I could have something to hide.

  43. Adam

    Police car not unmarked

    It wasn't unmarked. Original story and photo here:

    http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/Quizzed-over-terrorism-and-all.4332791.jp

  44. Mike Plunkett
    Stop

    Iffy Stats

    As an amateur photographer who feels distinctly uncomfortable using his camera in public I applaud this article and El Reg's stance on the issue as a whole. However, I wish people would stop using the "4.2 million cameras, one for every 14 people" statistic as evidence to back up their arguments. Those numbers were arrived at by counting the cameras in a single street in London (Putney? Peckham?) and then extrapolating for the rest of the country. They hold absolutely zero credibility.

  45. John

    A handy pocket size guide...

    The link Alex Threlfall linked above is very good and I too have long since kept a copy of it handy, but a much more pocket friendly 'guide' is this:

    http://billythebrain.deviantart.com/art/Photographers-Rights-87482274

    A kind soul scanned and uploaded theirs, it was originally supplied by the Association of Freelance Photographers as a guideline to their members. I understand it has been 'approved' by lawyers before it was issued and offers a good 'laymen' guide to what can and can't be done, and has proved useful to others when faced with a jobsworth security guard/police. Though clearly getting bolshy isn't going to help you at all, it can be used to clarify a situation. Thankfully so far I have never had cause to use mine, but I have one print out in the car, one in my jacket and one in my main camera bag. Hopefully the link will prove useful to others as I had a nightmare finding it after hearing about it.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    snap happy

    from amateur photographer's website:

    http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/uk_police_order_amateur_photographer_to_delete_pictures_at_tourist_hotspot_news_180714.html

    "... A photographer says he was left humiliated and feeling like a criminal after police ordered him to delete his pictures - telling him he first needed permission before taking photographs.

    The incident, which occurred in the seaside resort of Blackpool, Lancashire, is the latest in a spate of clashes between police officers and photographers taking pictures in public places in the UK.

    Amateur photographer John Kelly claims a police community support officer (PCSO) ordered him to delete pictures, which included the officer in the frame.

    Kelly told us that the PCSO then added: 'You can't take pictures of people without asking their permission.'...."

    if that's the case, i'd like to state publicly that in future i require any of the millions of CCTV operators spying over us continually to ask my permission before photographing me. i suggest everyone else does likewise.

    or could it just be that the pigs are making up the law as they go along again?

  47. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    If the plods have done nothing wrong...

    “if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear”

    Should that not work both ways?

    Paris, working both ways.

  48. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Flame

    @Ruairi

    We read:

    Were i in a position to make decisions on monitoring the general public, and had myself been subject to the invasions of privacy and harrassment routinely carried out by the British tabloid media, I would be very much inclined to say "fuck 'em, see how they like it".

    That would mean INSTAFAIL at being a politician and hopefully bring about the political death penalty.

    1) You would have not standing at taking a stab at retribution and collective punishment

    2) Two wrongs do not make a right

    3) The cattletrucks are lying in wait - for the next time. This thinking enables the next time.

  49. metadaddy

    @johnB

    Indeed: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him” - Cardinal Richelieu

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Us Against Them

    Police training does not teach mutual respect and rights of citizens. It's an "us against them" mentality. You will all eventually be considered some sort of terrorist or domestic threat.

  51. Mark

    About the unmarked cars

    Maybe what we need is something on these unmarked police cars that tells us not to photograph them. Say something like "eciloP".

  52. Adam Williamson
    Stop

    Fair point?

    You say the - rather vague - notion of individuals at demonstrations using cameras to "wind up" individual officers is a fair point.

    How's that, then? Unless they are beating said officers around the head with a chunky DSLR, I fail to see how this can possibly constitute something worthy of, in your terms, "punishment". Last time I checked, even New Labour hadn't managed to make "winding up an officer" a criminal offence yet, nor should it be.

    I'm continually irritated by the notion that it is acceptable for something to be legal if done to another person, but illegal if done to a police officer. There's absolutely no reason for this. Police officers should get the exact same protection under the law that everyone else gets; no more, no less. Anything else only serves to encourage the police to turn their noses up at the rules the rest of us live by, and encourage the public to resent the police, which is not in anyone's best interest.

    On unmarked police cars, I am always amused by the ones here in Vancouver. They take off the police markings, but leave on the gigantic black metal bull bars that no civilian car ever has. It's kind of hard to miss.

    Unless, of course, it's a *really* cunning double blind: those are the unmarked cars they want you to see. In which case, hats off, lads. Good one.

  53. John Hawkins
    Black Helicopters

    Hello Airstrip One!

    Looks like George O was just a little ahead of his time. Put them in Room 101...

    Muhahahahahaaaa!

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We've missed the point, again.

    The article and the comments above seem to indicate that we have a problem caused by something that has gone wrong with the law enforcement industry.

    WRONG!

    What has been described is NOT a problem. It is just another way in which the population will be made docile. The ban on smoking in public was the first. Now the ban on photography (whatever excuses they trot out) is next, and there will be a whole string of them until we the population get the message: Shut up, and do as you are told or else!

    How on earth can you run a Police State if you don't have a docile population who readily submit?

  55. David Harris

    Just to make it clear...

    ... if you follow the link to the second story, the member of the public complained, the matter was looked into and PC made to apologise. So perhaps not quite as bad as you might assume. On the other hand in the first one the police were unrepentant.

    It is unacceptable for people to be harassed like this, the best safeguard is probably to know your rights and stand up for them... on the other hand with so many police heavily armed and able, one suspects, to get away with pretty much anything, up to and including killing people - that takes a bit of courage.

    "To no man will we sell, to man deny, justice"

    David

  56. NT
    Coat

    Two Sides to Every Story

    I submit these comments knowing full well that it's the deepest and most offensive heresy here on El Reg to extend the Evil Big-Brother Oppressive Police the benefit of any sort of doubt under any circumstances. Since everybody knows they're out to take all the power they can get, and there's not a single solitary one of them that does the job because they genuinely believe they can help protect their society, I accept that I may be branded a government shill and exiled into the darkest reaches. Or maybe they won't even clear moderation, I don't know.

    (In the hope of mitigating my crime just a little, I'm also going to offer the fact that, while I wouldn't go so far as to flatter myself with the label of 'photographer', I do own a camera. If it comes down to a conflict between the rights of an innocent photographer to take pics and attempts by the police to stop him/her, I'm on the snapper's side every time. I would, however, be interested to know exactly how frequent these incidents are, and how often they're down to the officer's ignorance - admittedly an issue in itself - rather than sinister political intent.)

    Still, all that said...

    It's been mentioned that officers are increasingly recording everything they do with uniform-mounted cameras. It's been pointed out that they use cameras at demonstrations to 'wind up protesters'.

    It might be worth consideration - and I'm not suggesting that you have to accept it, but just be open-minded enough to consider it - that given the increasing tendency of modern Britain to complain vociferously at absolutely every perceived slight or inconvenience, it could be that the increasing use of cameras by the police is nothing more than a defence mechanism. Police officers have always used their pocket books to record conversations and details of encounters. Recording the entire encounter is simply an extension of the same principle. The advantages are that notation errors are eliminated; the officer can spend more time actually dealing with people rather than peering at a notebook; and the officer has a defence against the inevitable allegation that s/he fabricated or deliberately mis-recorded the evidence in the notebook. It's one thing to claim that an officer made up lies and wrote them in a PNB, but it's another to suggest that the police devoted time and resources to fabricating video evidence.

    As far as protests go, I'm not sure which 'side' first came up with the notion of recording everything in order to keep the others in line (or, for preference, to record them stepping out of line), so I don't know whose 'fault' I'd say it all is. Who started it. But it's absolutely for sure that in any given demo there are similar numbers of lenses pointing in both directions. And anyone who implies that protesters don't wield those cameras with every intention of trying to intimidate and antagonise the officers involved has quite clearly never been to a protest. Isn't the purpose of the cameras to record police misbehaviour? And what if there isn't any misbehaviour? Isn't that pretty frustrating? Still, when officers know they're being recorded, but know they don't have any way of ensuring the evidential continuity of any tape, it makes sense for them to record events themselves so they can provide their own evidence if need be.

    Yes, there are a lot of problems in law and privacy and surveillance at the moment. Most of the problems of this sort (photographers being stopped) stem from the fact that the police are constantly being bombarded with new laws, new initiatives, new operations, all in the name of protecting the people from terrorism and the like. Most officers are simply doing a job; a job they probably used to believe in when they started out, poor saps. Many of them, as much as we might expect them to be perfect machines, have trouble interpreting the masses of new procedures that're being laid on them. And yes, there *are* some arseholes who simply love the power kick of being in a uniform - but the question is whether you're going to assume that they're *all* like that based on anecdotal evidence or the odd personal experience.

    And yes, too, there are similar arseholes in authority (I'm looking at you, ACPO), who seem dedicated to acquiring extensive powers that wouldn't be needed or justifiable if they'd only manage basic policing properly.

    I suppose what I'm getting at is that, by and large, coppers are people. They don't really want the hassle - they certainly don't want the paperwork - of arresting someone for taking bloody pictures. My advice would be to read up on the law from these links that're being posted, and have it to hand in case you ever end up in this situation. But before you trot it out and chuck it in the officer's face like some supercilious armchair lawyer, why not just *talk* to them? Why not have a chat, and see what was on their mind that led them to speak to you in the first place? And if they persist, then by all means reach for your law.

    Obviously, if you prefer to prejudge the lot of them and assume they're all dastardly Orwellian automatons, then go to it; but don't expect the most productive or satisfactory outcome if you charge in guns blazing right from the off.

    Mine's the one with 'Pariah' written on the back...

  57. Stewart Haywood
    Dead Vulture

    I wonder ....

    If the Black Police Association has white members such that the ratio of black to white members of the association is the same as the ratio of black to white members of the police force. If not, why not?. Also, is it really wise for the police to allow officers to join clubs that use skin colour to define themselves?. I would think that it must make it more difficult to justify officers like PC Farooq roughing up white people for objecting to him breaking the law.

    Dead bird because he looks as though he has been Farooqed.

  58. Slarti
    Alert

    Whoa there

    Did you really think about this or did you just take the police version at face value:

    "Of course, there can be legitimate reasons for opposing the use of cameras. In talking to El Reg about the law on photography, several Police Forces made the fair comment that there were individuals who had learnt how to use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up."

    I think you're probably referring to FitWatch (http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com/). The ironic thing is this is a recently developed tactic to counter the *police* use of over-the-top surveillance as a form of harassment. The FIT (Forward Intelligence Teams) are a group of usually 3-4 cops with long-lense cameras, video cameras, etc. Sometimes they film/photograph everyone coming in or out of an event, often just a meeting to talk about an event. Sometimes they follow an individual around on a demonstration, including a simple A-B march. They specialise in learning information about known activists and then telling those people things about themselves (including their private lives, employment, etc.) just to intimidate. To have four people, all with police powers following you (personally) all day on a march and then following you to the pub afterwards, often looking for opportunities to hassle/search/arrest you and on occasion assaulting people *is* clearly harassment.

    It turns out, when people started pointing cameras back at them, that these same FIT teams are about the most camera shy cops you'll ever find! So some people (disclosure: I've been on demos, I've been hassled by the FIT but not as badly as some folk, I've not (yet) taken part in a FITwatch type action although I have pointed a camera back at them on occasion) decided to push back a bit by making it more difficult for them to hassle people. This is partly by turning cameras back at them and partly by using banners, or their own bodies, to block the view of the FIT cameras. Frankly, people should be able to go to a meeting to discuss, say, the arms trade, without ending up on a police database just for doing that.

    "Undoubtedly, this happens – although as with any such abuse, perhaps it should be punished appropriately when it does, rather than used as a reason for clamping down more widely."

    How exactly is it abuse? The police who are policing a demo are public officials acting in a public capacity. As members of the public one of the few ways we can hold them to account is by photographing them. This could be when they are harassing other people, arresting people, stopping and searching people, etc. It also can act as a deterrent - if they know all arrests will be photographed you tend to get fewer people injured during arrest, for example. I've discussed the issue with senior police officers (Inspector up to Chief Super) at liaison meetings about future demos and they have always said they we are perfectly within our rights to take photos of the cops at demos. (There is also an issue that many of the activists in such situations are also there in a journalistic capacity for news sites such as IndyMedia.)

    Intrusive photography can be used as one tool in harassing someone, as described above by the FIT for example. However, there are three key differences between activists photographing the cops and the FIT tactics. One is that we don't follow them to the pub afterwards, talk loudly about their private lives (using information gleaned from confidential sources), etc. Another is that we don't gang up on them four on one and don't have powers to repeatedly search them, arrest them, etc. But the main one is that we are private citizens exercising our rights to freedom of speech and assembly - they are public officials, on duty and acting as such and we don't go beyond that into their private lives.

    I would also add that it is a well-established principle of law in relation to issues like provocation, etc. that the police are expected, through their training, experience and public role, to be thicker-skinned than members of the public. Thus, if the police are accepting that photographing police officers winds them up then why are they going so over the top in winding up members of the public when they are supposed to be (and claim to be) trying to keep things calm and "facilitate lawful protest".

    I'd also add that while there is no general law preventing the police taking photographs of people on the street (and more than there is of us taking photographs of them) there is no law requiring you to allow them to take your photograph, even during a stop and search. Thus putting your hand (or a banner or placard) in front of your face is perfectly legal. The only situation the police can force you to have your photo taken is once they've arrested you.

    "Part of the problem, as far as authority is concerned, is the sheer scale of public photography."

    Which still pales by comparison with the CCTV coverage! But anyway, why is this a problem? I could understand official concern about covert surveillance/potential terrorist reccies on ultra-sensitive sites (any site open to the public or visible on google earth is *not* in this category due to the usual horse/stable door reasoning). I can understand concerns over long-lense photography into peoples private house/gardens/etc. I can understand concerns over photographs of children without parental consent (another thing the FIT do a lot). But people taking pictures on public streets as a concern in and of itself? Or taking pictures of public officials acting in that capacity? Why?

  59. Robert McMains, Jr.
    Coat

    Use a digital camera? make sure you have a spare memory card handy

    .

    ... then if an 'iffy' situation occurs, and you fell it safer to delete, delete.

    Swap to a different card for subsequent pictures and use something like the free photorec to get the images back when you get home. trivial to do.

    Then you have the images to hand when making a complaint.

    Just a thought outside the box from the western US.

    I'm disabled and use my cam a lot for 'writing down' prices and products, things I want to save for, etc. and used to get hassled a lot in stores- especially the ones with lots of CCTV monitors...

    Until I had some inch-square 'handicapped access' logo stickers printed and slapped a couple on my camera. No hassles since!

    Mine's the one with blue & white stickers and 4 Secure Digital pockets in the lining...

  60. Steve Crook

    DNA?

    I'm assuming that when Mr Carter was arrested, he had his fingerprints and DNA taken. Has he got his DNA removed from the database yet?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    On the face of it...

    "More recently, Police and Parking Enforcement Officers have begun to be kitted out with mobile cameras – so they can record every tiny detail of interaction with the public."

    ...sounds quite sensible, given the attitudes so common in the Police these days - especially amongst PCSOs.

    It should be pointed out however that this "I think I'll just make up the law as I go along" trend indicates either that the individual concerned is completely unsuitable for employment in any branch of the Police - Hasn't been trained correctly - OR is fundamentally dishonest. - OR simply lacking the intellectual capacity to work in law enforcement?

    Leaving that aside - even though it is in fact a serious issue that urgently requires addressing - Police officers with built in video/audio recording appears to be a very good idea, given the tendencies that have become increasingly evident.

    BUT, just how tamper-proof are those records?

    Can the recording system be selectively disabled?

    What precautions are in place to prevent post-editing?

    It's all too easy to envisage situations, particularly where an officer proposes to do something - and let's not beat about the bush here - unlawful, and switches off the recording system.

    Or realises that they have overstepped the line and subsequently tampers with the recording.

    IF there aren't watertight precautions in place to prevent this then there is NO protection for the public in this system. It becomes merely a selectively applied system to gather evidence to back up the Police.

    Yet another misapplication of technology by an increasingly authoritarian Government and its Praetorians.

    As far as the teachers are concerned, I'd have thought the idea of CCTV in classrooms would be a godsend. An excellent defence against unfounded accusations. Proof that they ARE doing their job properly.

    After all, as their Marxist bosses are so fond of saying - "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" - right?

    Or could it be more a case of "Some are more equal than others"?

    I really do despair for this country. We've been taken over by a bunch of power crazed authoritarians who seem unable to see any way forward other than an unholy mixture of relentless selectively applied legislation and manipulating reality to suit themselves - all under the banner of democratic freedom and security.

    What they are actually doing is CREATING a situation where they will, eventually, NEED the authoritarian infrastructure they are busily creating, to preserve their own skins.

    The lesson of history is that Authoritarian States do not survive in the long term. Ultimately they either collapse or, are torn down.

    The danger is that such events are frequently violent.

    I wonder if anyone in government can see the likely outcome if this course continues though?

    Me, I'd quite like to live my remaining years peacefully AND with a reasonable degree of freedom...

  62. Jared Earle
    Alert

    Oh, the irony

    The week after the Tube terror attacks, the Police were asking anyone with a camera if they had any photos. I was approached by this chap because I was carrying a nice-looking camera:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredearle/37183600/

    He was handing out "Did you see anything?" flyers.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about this

    IMHO, being in a public place does not remove your right to privacy. It's committing crimes that does.

    1. We remove the stop and search power. There should be specific suspicion of a crime to stop and search because people have the right to privacy, and only the committing of crimes removes that right. Specific reasons why specific person is searchable at that specific time and all 3 elements can be justified if challenged. Like it was before. IMHO terrorism threat is WAY overstated and we're more at risk flying on holiday to the Canary islands, or crossing the road. Blair law, remove it.

    2. People are entitled to some privacy even in public places. Police don't like cameras in their faces, nor do protestors. Don't video unless there is crime. Sans crime no video. A social measure to reduce the gap between police and public. At peaceful protests why are the police even there? Blair chose Blunket, he had no concept of privacy because he was blind. But most people aren't broken and have privacy.

    3. Likewise the police right to force removal of a disguise. They can demand you remove any disguise if they think the purpose is to conceal identity. I have the right to conceal my identity from you. In the absense of crime it's none of your fooking business. And I'm saying that as an AC, because I'm smart enough to know not to be critical of ACPO and Wacky Jacqui as anything *but* AC. Pre-Blair law, made much worse by CCTV and cameras, remove it.

    4. Section 42 Criminal Justice and Police act, the 'Harrassment' one. Such a fluffy law that, IMHO, I am entitled to protest and your right to be free from 'harrassment' does not trump that. I can't disturb the peace, I can't do property damage or obstruct, but these are all existing laws. The controls on these 'Harrasment' law are meaningless, the person who wants to use this law to suppress protest can simply claim it causes them 'alarm' or 'distress', even if unplausible. The only meaningful control is the 'dwelling' rule, and you see officers talk about 'residents' of office buildings, or neighbouring buildings to try to bypass that one. Blair law, existing laws covered the real problem here much better, remove it.

    5. Power to demand name and address of anti-social people. No, if you're not arresting them they're entitled to privacy. 'Anti-social' behaviour is so vague/subjective as to be meaningless, the right to demand identity comes from breaking the law. Sticking police camera in my face is anti-social, but I don't get to demand the officers home address. Blair law remove it.

    6. RIPA, I am entitled to privacy, crimes are what remove that right. In thr absence of crime my stuff is none of your fooking business. Independant judicial check always. Like the stop-search where the officer names a senior officer who gave him instruction to stop, getting approval from a senior officer is a meaningless 'buddy' check. Blair law remove it.

    7. New CCTV law, if you accept that simply being in public doesn't strip all your right to privacy, then privacy right applies. Can't keep CCTV for longer than necessary, for unnecessary purposes or cross link it to other systems more than necessary. Can't be intrusive even if the camera is in a public place. So ANPR should not record number plates that are not flagged as crimes, and that info should not be made available to others or cross links to other systems because it's none of your fooking business if I am not committing a crime.

    8. Initimidation of people connected with animal research organisation. Yeh we know Blair got a big wadge of lobby money. But everyone is equal and they're not entitled to special protection just because they cut up cute bunnies.

    9. Go through all the Blair laws, once the Tories are in power, each Blair law gets removed by default unless it is reapproved through Parliament. 42 days detention without charge? No, it makes 28 days seem normal, 28 days detention? No it makes 14 seem normal. Quit arresting people if you don't have enough evidence to charge them. Quit making terrorism an excuse.

    10. Central database of all communications. Fook off. bypassing Parliament, treason, fook off. Nobody trusts 'lethal pot Brown', or hysterical housewife Jacqui not to abuse that info. The link between spooks and police means that spooks can selectively mine such a database to paint a false picture, fook off.

    11. Anti-social is meaningless grouping word designed to tie strong problems to weak ones (e.g. disturbing the peace with 'fear of stuff'). A Blair trick, remove any reference to anti-social behaviour and put in the actual real solid thing that it is intented to fix.

    12. 'Voluntary' Curfew, is an abuse of police power. The officer concerned does not have the right to remove peoples right to be outside at night. I'm pretty sure I can find a law he's broken, he should be prosecuted.

    13. SOCA, fook off, people have the right to protest, ergo the right to refuse their right to protest is anti-democractic and they don't need 'permission'.

  64. Christian Gerzner

    Re: Two Sides To Every Story

    Here's another thought to those carefully made by NT.

    I'm an amateur photographer, law abiding, conservative, elderly. I used to photograph underwater only but SCUBA is for the very healthy which I am not any more and so I have taken to land photography (a considerable step in itself).

    I have, since December, a significantly sophisticated SLR camera that is, increasingly, getting a supply of sophisticated lenses and I'm fairly proud of it, but still learning this above water lark.

    Back in February I met with some friends in the local Pub's beer garden (this is just north of Sydney Australia) and decided to take the system because I wanted to show off the latest two lenses, and so forth and so on.

    There was a family, probably grandparents, parents and two children at the immediately adjacent table. The daughter, at a guess around five years old, got seriously involved in some kind of computer game and so I snapped a few pictures of her, she was very cute in the way she screwed up her nose and eyes in concentration. I did this in full view of everyone, this was not a long lens, and eventually asked the parents for their e-mail address to send the pictures to them, which I did. I also asked them whether they'd like the raw files and having explained that to them, they said yes.

    A little later two of my friends commented that I should have asked permission first because the taking of pictures of people without their permission is illegal. I have yet, in fact, to bother to find out whether that is the case, but what happens if I take a Paparazzi picture with a 300mm lens, even a 150mm lens, and the "model" doesn't even know that it's been taken? Yes, we have Paparazzi here as elsewhere.

    If that law is correct, which I doubt, then the law is an ass - again.

    It follows therefore that a long lens, from further away than, say, the cops in that undercover BMW (a BMW? In England?!!!) would ever know of, would be perfectly benign to the photographer - never to be harassed by the local constabulary.

    That would sort out phone cameras though although unfortunately, unless I miss my guess, those are going to become increasingly serious problems as the technology gets more sophisticated.

    Lapel button cameras anyone? Oh, I forgot, no one wears suits any more.

  65. n

    does anyone know...

    Is there any mobile phone that allow uploading photos immediately to web/your home server?

    given plods fondness for confiscating memory cards, it might be a useful feature???

  66. Bill The Cat

    It's OK in Russia

    I visited Red Square outside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia and photographed the entire thing. Sure, roof cameras were everywhere but nobody threw me to the ground and held me in a cell for taking both video and still of the place.

    Welcome to the land of the FREE

  67. QrazyQat

    gander, meet goose

    "there were individuals who had learnt how to use cameras at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up."

    If the cops haven't done anything wrong, they have nothing to fear from someone with a camera.

  68. Mark
    Black Helicopters

    Scale of photogrtaphy

    "Part of the problem, as far as authority is concerned, is the sheer scale of public photography."

    Surely that's a GOOD thing. We could frame things so that you can't see WHY the PC is beating the crap out of that protester but if there are LOTS of pictures from different angles, they are much more likely to show the truth.

    Then again, it makes it harder to defend malpurposed actions with that defense when there's lots of them, and you can't arrest EVERYONE with a camera when there are hundreds. But since these are only advantageous when the photo record will record actions that are not appropriate, they should not be *wanted*.

    Black helicopter because it looks like the PC Plots are afraid of a public conspiracy...

  69. Mark
    Black Helicopters

    re: Politics by name has nothing to do with it.

    Well, based on results, we didn't HAVE ID cards, 300 new laws a year, parliamentary privilege, terrorist acts (as opposed to acts of terrorism), 40million losses of records, etc. EXCEPT under this government.

    If all governments would have done this, then we should dismantle the power of governments. But since you don't mention that, I'll just have to expose you as a NuLabour supporter trying to make out they aren't so bad beacuse there are worse out there. You forgot something: they aren't in charge for the ones you have proof and for those with no proof, prove it.

  70. Mark
    Stop

    re: Photographing police cars

    So what was the problem? Proving that the police were breaking the law?

  71. Dave

    Silly article

    "Any argument that this might be a little intrusive is met with the bland old reassurance that “if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear”.

    The only people I ever hear say that is the tinfoil hat brigade. If anything police toting video cameras is as much protection for you as it is for them, it keeps them honest. If the camera is turned off and when its turned back on you have a black eye then people will ask why?

    " what these stories have in common is an emerging double standard: “They” may photograph us when, where and how they like, but we should think twice about photographing them."

    That's just nonsense. If you take a photo of a police officer/car breaking the law that is EVIDENCE of an offence. A police officer who attempts to conceal, alter, damage or destroy evidence is in very very deep water. They may well try and bully you but the fact is you are acting lawfully.

    "Why are you taking photographs of a police vehicle sir"

    "I am recording evidence of the driver committing an offence which I intend to report."

    Is a photo of a police car of use to terrorists? Hardly.

  72. Cortland Richmond

    Orwell was off a few years

    "1984" WAS set in Britain, though.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Olympic closing ceremony, UK Contribution.

    The London bus in the Beijing closing ceremony representing Britain, it should have opened up in the top, and a bunch of 60 CCTV camera should have popped out and photographed every Chinese man, 'for the prevention of terrorism'.

    Then a bunch of rozzers should have popped out and grabbed any arbitrary Chinaman dragged him in for 42 day detention. For the 'good of society.

    The bus windows should have had curtains, and scared housewives popping their head round the curtain in fear of the anti-social chinese outside.

    Yeh, that would should Britain as it is today. Thank U NuLabour for giving Britain an identity!

  74. Wokstation
    Thumb Down

    Well boo-hiss, reg.

    Understandably? Harrassing police officers?

    It's not against the law to piss off a copper. As a photographer I am aghast that The Reg chose to pacify the police commentors by giving that statement any credibility.

    They photograph us - if they've nothing to fear, they shouldn't worry about us returning the favour.

  75. David

    Smile, please!

    Sounds like the police have been.......er.......shall we say a tad "over-zealous" again! I believe UK law states that it is still perfectly legal to take photographs of anything and anyone on, or from, public land or highways, with the exception of certain "secret" government buildings/installations, although I`m not sure how you`re supposed to know which buildings are classified as such, unless they have a big sign on them saying so!

    I used to carry a camera constantly in a previous job and well remember having a verbal (and almost physical!) tussle with a military gentleman in charge of some soldiers who had stopped their vehicles to assist at the scene of an accident that I had photographed. He actually wanted to confiscate my film in case I had photographed some of his men. I prevailed but it was an awkward moment. The military vehicles seemed to have no markings, so maybe that`s why he got a tad touchy. As I told him at the time, what I was doing was completely legal and he would have probably committed an offence had he taken things further.

  76. James Woods

    little off topic

    But this is like the police in the united states that are being armed with machine guns. From what I can remember the US was not founded on the notion that the government would have the ability to overpower it's citizens. Im all for the police having the ability to take control of a situation and defend themselves, but as we have seen with situations like waco and what-not what's to stop police when they over-step their duty and create provocations. What are the good citizens going to do in our cities when the cops have automatic weapons and the citizens are not allowed to protect themselves with automatic weapons? Im an NRA Life member and do see the importance of keeping automatic weapons off the street, however that goes for everyone. The only ones that should have the automatic weapons are our military and they should only be able to use them in a time of war. Hearing police stories like this where the police are able to do whatever they want "running redlights to get doughnuts" or speeding just to speed are all signs that we are living in societies of privilege and censorship.

  77. andreas koch
    Coat

    genuine question to the readers:

    I keep reading the terms 'police officer', 'pcso', and 'parking enforcement officer' in close proximity and it leaves somehow the taste as if they where all the same. Which to my understanding is not so: the 'parking enforcement officer' is a meter maid and the 'pcso' is a playground supervisor. Or am I getting that wrong, (my usual excuse is being kraut and only living here for 2 years...) and these people have actual executive powers?

    But then, wasn't there a story about some of these pcso's letting a boy drown in a pond, because they weren't allowed to intervene before a proper pc was there.

    someone enlighten me on this, I am genuinely getting lost here.

    "Zad Leica in der pocket of der coat iz not míne, herr polizist!

  78. A Lewis

    @ Christian Gerzner

    Your friends are misinformed. It is quite legal to take photographs of people, with or without their permission, in a public place in NSW (with certain limitations, mainly to do with offensive behaviour, nuisance, etc. - see the informative post at http://www.overclockers.com.au/wiki/Your_right_to_take_photographs for more details.) It could be argued that the beer garden was private property, but this only means you must respect the owner's wishes, i.e. if the publican asked you to desist, you should. The subjects of the photographs have no expectation of privacy in such a place, and so no legal right to object. Though should they do so, politeness might dictate you comply with their request. From what you described, though, everyone (including the law) was happy with the situation.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    really

    what kind of retard would use a big obvious camera for terrorism anyway? Just get one of those mini video camera things.

    Aside - the police are universally wankers - it goes with the terretory. Doesn't mean I wouldn't want the patrolling the streets, investigating crime, locating criminals, I just don't want them having the power to make the law up, lie, and having a bit too much power in parliment or the media.

    However I dislike special police types even more, give them a while they'll be like paramilitary forces in south america, well beyond the law whilst the police are starved of resources.

    Funny world.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    X number of CCTV

    This will probably get lost in the noise but it's worth pointing out that the figure for how many CCTV cameras there are in Britain also includes the number of in store and other private premises security cameras. I suspect if you take out these cameras then the number of the remaining public body cameras will be far less spectacular and hardly newsworthy.

  81. n

    el reg staffer trolls where are you?

    ...still waiting for the el reg staffer trolls to comment on there article....??

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Dave and silly stats

    Dave i think you have misread the article.

    It and others stories like that show that when you snap a plod breaking the law, their use the anti-terrorism laws to stop you.

    Also re: silly stats complaining that the 4.2 figure comes from extrapolation... that is what stats are for most national level figure. It is simply not possible to count all the cctv camera. Just like it is impossible to count TV viewing figures, so take a representative sample and extrapolate.

    The london street like Oxford Street (v. busy shopping street) was likely used as it has many cameras so any figure derived would be a potential maximum possible count.

    If you dont understand stats then you should not criticise them.

  83. Simpson
    Unhappy

    smile

    Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety.

    Noah Webster

    When the police fear the general public to the degree of fearing photos, something is terribly wrong.

    Me

    A few quotes from some other famous People, on this side of Atlantis.

    Thomas Jefferson almost said: "No man shall ever be debarred the use of cameras. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear cameras is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Jefferson made himself even more explicit when he almost said: "And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not .warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take cameras.... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the pictures of patriots and tyrants."

    James Madison almost said, "The Constitution preserves the advantage of having cameras which (insert your country here) possess over the people of almost every other nation ... [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with cameras."

    Alexander Hamilton almost said, "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of cameras which is paramount to all forms of positive government."

    Richard Henry Lee almost said, "To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess cameras and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."

    Tench Coxe almost said: "The gov has no power to un-camera the people. Their bigger cameras, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of (insert your country here).... The unlimited power of the camera is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

    Noah Webster almost said, "The supreme power in (inset your country here) cannot enforce unjust laws by the camera, because the whole body of the people have cameras, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular cameras."

    George Washington almost said: "cameras stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the (insert your country here) people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence."

  84. steogede
    Thumb Down

    Clear as mud

    >> Of course, there can be legitimate reasons for opposing the use of cameras. In

    >> talking to El Reg about the law on photography, several Police Forces made the

    >> fair comment that there were individuals who had learnt how to use cameras at

    >> demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up.

    El Reg, have you been purposefully uninformative - are you trying to be sarcastic?

    Ignoring the fact that it is not an offence to "wind up an officer" - can you clarify what the fuck they are accused of doing to the said officers. I will rephrase the quote:

    "Of course, there can be legitimate reasons for opposing the use of hands. In talking to El Reg about the law on photography, several Police Forces made the fair comment that there were individuals who had learnt how to use hands whilst at demonstrations as a means to wind individual officers up."

    BTW, with regard to the one about destruction of evidence, I am going have to remember that one. If any officer reckons my camera has been used illegally I will demand to keep the photos as evidence of any crime I may or may not have committed.

  85. John Murgatroyd

    Cams,

    "s there any mobile phone that allow uploading photos immediately to web/your home server"

    My orange phone allows the sending of photos to my online photo album, automatically.

    I took a photo of a wheel clamper doing his work. I got informed that taking the picture of him was a breach of his rights, and that if I didn't stop he'd "kick the shit out of me".

  86. Dave

    @ jeremy

    No I got that just fine, but I'll reiterate that that law is not applicable and what the plod is probably trying to do is convince you to delete the picture without doing anything more. If the article was about a new law banning photographs of the police that'd be news, but its not, its a couple of isolated examples, one of which isn't even reported correctly and some very ropey statistics.

    "Delete that picture of my police car parked on yellow lines outside the chippy, it is illegal under anti-terrorism legislation"

    "No, it is evidence of an offence which I intend to report"

    "I'll seize your camera then"

    "Okay, I'd like a receipt with the reason and legislation its being seized under, your name number and station and the address of who I can write to to get it back"

    If the pictures are evidence of your "offence" then they're in no danger of being deleted.

    Can you explain your actions as being lawful? Yes.

    Can the police officer inconvenience you while you do it? Yes.

    But then, if you care THAT much about "catching them out" you shouldn't mind, should you?

    If on the other hand you're doing it to be smart like W above why should you complain if you have no reasonable excuse and you have to explain yourself... in a police station?

    @ NT thank you for your very sensible comments. I agree there are privacy problems at the moment. There are lots of where photographers' activities might arouse the interest of the police. For example if there was someone outside your childrens school playground snapping away wouldn't you want to know why?

  87. NT

    @ andreas koch

    Because you've said you've asked a 'geuine question', I'll answer it as such. I suspect we both know it was pretty much rhetorical, though.

    "I keep reading the terms 'police officer', 'pcso', and 'parking enforcement officer' in close proximity and it leaves somehow the taste as if they where all the same. Which to my understanding is not so: the 'parking enforcement officer' is a meter maid and the 'pcso' is a playground supervisor. Or am I getting that wrong, (my usual excuse is being kraut and only living here for 2 years...) and these people have actual executive powers?"

    A police officer in the UK is someone who is sworn into the police force (or 'service' as it's recently been rebranded) and possess a warrant. Of the three you've mentioned, the police officer has the widest range of powers. Disregarding for a moment the anti-authority slant of El Reg, it's generally accepted in democratic countries that a police officer needs a range of powers in order to carry out their duties (although I'm not making any comment here on the right or wrong of any specific power). Perhaps the most universal of those powers from country to country is that the police officer can, if they suspect someone of an offence and need to investigate it, detain a person and take them into custody while enquiries are made (this assumes the offence carries a power of arrest). Different countries will equip their officers with different powers.

    A PCSO is a Police Community Support Officer. They are employees of the police force and have a limited range of powers intended to enable them to deal, usually via fixed penalty tickets or reports, with nuisance and low-grade criminality. I hesitate to use the term 'anti-social behaviour' since, as commented elsewhere, it is worryingly vague. (For example, I don't go out to pubs and clubs very often because I don't really like them: therefore in the strictest sense I am guilty of anti-social behaviour.)

    In most force areas a PCSO also has powers of detention, however these are (or should be) strictly time-limited and do not allow the PCSO to remove a person to another place. They are restricted to holding a person until a police officer arrives. This power is widely condemned by liberty activists, although in truth it's not dissimilar to the common public conception of the "citizen's arrest", and most people have always been quite happy to accept that idea. But put the same power (in fact, a more limited version of the same power) in the hands of someone who is, in theory at least, trained and accountable, and somehow that person becomes an evil agent of a totalitarian regime.

    As for parking attendants, well, the setup can vary wildly from area to area. For example, where I live there are no more traffic wardens. Parking offences are dealt with by either police officers (who rarely have time, unless you're relying on them not having time), or council parking officers whose power derives from the local authority (and it's worth bearing in mind that it's the local authority, not the police, who decide on speed limits, parking restrictions, double-yellow lines, and so on).

    "But then, wasn't there a story about some of these pcso's letting a boy drown in a pond, because they weren't allowed to intervene before a proper pc was there."

    Yes, there was a story, and no, that's not quite the case. The PCSOs would have been perfectly entitled to jump in and save the boy - it certainly wasn't a matter of 'not being allowed'. These two didn't do that, and the question was whether they were right to act in the way that they did in the circumstances. The police claim the PCSOs were justified in waiting for assistance; the parents say they weren't. I, however, wasn't there and, to my knowledge, neither were the various tabloids rags who rushed to judgement one way or the other, or the readers who decided their opinion based on what their favoured rag told them to think.

    In any event, the case you've highlighted is not a question of PCSOs' powers - it's a question of the decisions, right or wrong, made by two individual PCSOs in one particular incident.

    "I am genuinely getting lost here."

    No, I don't think you're lost at all. I think you know exactly what your opinion is.

  88. Mark

    Re: Cams

    You could have said

    "Cheers. This thing has sound too."

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    police abuse

    only a few days ago i was sat in a police station while a police officer sat opposite me flicking through a police guidance booklet saying to me 'there must be something i can arrest you for in here, we have all kinds of powers'

    the worst part? the reason i was there was to report someone assaulting me, apparently the officer (who refused to give his name) didn't give a crap about that because 'it was my own fault for going to a peaceful protest' - after his superiors kicked him in to line he finally stopped trying to find an excuse to arrest me for the crime of free speech and started investigating the assault, but hardly in an unbiased and fair manner

    yes, i shall shortly be finding out just how independent the IPC is!

  90. Moz

    police abuse?

    << only a few days ago i was sat in a police station while a police officer sat opposite me flicking through a police guidance booklet saying to me 'there must be something i can arrest you for in here, we have all kinds of powers' >>

    Nah, sorry, I don't buy that. I'm first to agree the police aren't above abusing their powers, you don't have to persuade me of that, but I reckon the worst of them would have more about him than that. I think there's probably more to this story.

    Meh. This is the worth of anecdotal evidence, though... (reg writers take note.) Maybe it did happen just like you say, if so I only hope you find the IPCC easier to convince.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ted Treen

    "Maggie (amongst others - not least Reagan) had the wonderful idea that 'Small government is best"'

    Then why did she reduce the power of Local Authorities and increase the power of central government, you dribbling idiot?

  92. John Murgatroyd

    problem ?

    I don't se any problem. If they stop and/or search you they are supposed to supply you with a record of said event, complete with name etc. If they do not so so automatically you need to ask them for one. Hardly a problem, it takes nearly a half hour to fill in...

    "What paperwork do I get after a stop and a stop and search?

    You should receive a written record of the stop or stop and search at the time of the event, which sets out the reason for the stop or stop and search. If you want to complain either about being stopped or searched or the way it was carried out, this record will help identify the circumstances.

    Supervisors at the police station also keep a copy of this record. They use it to monitor the use of stop and stop and search powers and check for any inappropriate use. The police service must also make arrangements for community representatives to look at their stop and search records.

    Police may use the record at a later date to contact you about anything that may have happened in that area around the time you were stopped.

    You will normally be given a record at the time of the event. However, because of operational demands (public order situations, large public events of if an officers is called to an emergency) you may be told where to collect the record later. A record must be made available for up to 12 months. You can also be given a receipt rather than a full record as the time"

    http://www.met.police.uk/stopandsearch/what_is.htm

  93. Eduard Coli
    Black Helicopters

    Who watches the watchers

    The old wheeze "if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to worry about" is fatally flawed. It implies trust where there is none and where there should be none. While individual police may have the best intentions by no means can the entire police force be trusted. It has been proven time and again that people by themselves may be moral and ethical these same people are capable of doing things they would never do when in a group.

  94. kain preacher Silver badge

    NYC

    There is a guy in NYC that goes around filming cops and other public officials that park illegal. Sound like if he were to do this in the UK he would be done in.

  95. Wokstation

    @Jeremey

    "For example if there was someone outside your childrens school playground snapping away wouldn't you want to know why?"

    You've missed the point about being in public entirely. Kids on a school field are not considered to be in a public space, instead, they're on private property - a school. As such, you cannot take their photographs without permission of the landowner.

  96. NT
    Coat

    @ kain preacher

    "There is a guy in NYC that goes around filming cops and other public officials that park illegal. Sound like if he were to do this in the UK he would be done in."

    No, I don't think he would. First, let's bear in mind the number of times people have actually been stopped for taking pictures in the UK. El Reg here would seem to imply that it's happening every two minutes on every street corner. I suspect that, if we assessed it objectively, we might find it's not all that common after all.

    Then let's consider the percentage of times that it's been down to a mistake or misjudgement on the part of the officer involved, rather than law or a force policy. I suspect that'll cut the number of truly sinister occasions down even further (unless you automatically categorise an officer's error of judgement as sinister in itself).

    And then it's worth paying a visit to YouTube and doing a search on 'UK police' or similar. You'll find a truly massive number of clips, and not all of them present the police in an entirely complimentary light. If the UK police were really that bothered about people videoing or photographing them, don't you imagine they'd be taking steps to suppress such content?

    As a matter of fact there are quite a few people who make it their life's crusade to follow police officers around and try to catch them doing something a bit dodgy. It could be argued that these are valiant heroes working tirelessly to keep our police forces honest. Or, it could equally be argued that they're small-minded busybodies fuelled by paranoia or sour grapes (how many of them, I wonder, only embark on their civic-minded campaign after getting ticketed for something?). I suppose it depends on point of view. But whatever your perspective, these people are certainly not doing anything illegal, and to tell you the truth I'm quite dubious about the implication that police officers would accuse them of unlawful activity as a matter of course.

  97. John Bayly
    Boffin

    Re: AC @Ted Treen

    Um, maybe because the total size of the government is smaller. Large central government plus lots of small local authorities (Thatcherite) or, a small (actually still large) central government and lots of bloated local authorities (Nu-Lab).

    Who's the dribbling idiot?

    If you want to criticise, use your name.

  98. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    @Wokstation

    a) you're wrong: you are standing on public property and the school's public access means they are not private property.

    b) you missed: Jeremy was WRONG. Why should you care if someone is taking photos? This should not be a criminal act. Or do school photographers (the ones making the yearbook photos for school) paedos?

    Hell, you don't seem to care that they are watched 300 times a day by CCTV and you NEVER see the person behind the monitor.

  99. ShaggyDoggy

    @ Wokstation

    You havem't read UKPhotographersRights.pdf have you.

    It is not illegal to take pictures of private property from a public place.

    Think about it, simply every pic you take would be illegal wouldn't it !!

  100. Jason Clery

    responses

    "There are lots of where photographers' activities might arouse the interest of the police. For example if there was someone outside your childrens school playground snapping away wouldn't you want to know why?"

    You have no right to. What you are implying is the whole paedophile angle. Most kiddy fiddlers are parents, family, or close family friends.

    The photographer could have seen something that made a nice shot, maybe a "children at play" or "chavs in training" or such like.

    "Kids on a school field are not considered to be in a public space, instead, they're on private property - a school. As such, you cannot take their photographs without permission of the landowner."

    Only if the photographer is on the land itself, not on the street.

    http://www.urban75.org/photos/photographers-rights-and-the-law.html

    "Photographing Buildings, Football Grounds and Interiors

    Property owners have no right to stop people taking photos of their buildings, so long as the photographer is standing in a public place (e.g. the road outside)."

    "UK laws are fairly vague when it comes to defining what constitutes an invasion of privacy, but while street shots should cause no problem, you might get in hot water if you're strapping on colossal telephoto lens and zooming in on folks stripping off in their bathrooms - even if you are snapping from a public place.

    The key seems to be whether the subject would have a reasonable expectation of privacy - a statement that seems vague enough to keep a team of lawyers gainfully employed for some time"

    So unless there is signage up stating a local organdance forbids photos, there is no law against it.

  101. Wokstation

    @ShaggyDoggy, Jason Clery and Mark

    Taking photos of a private space can indeed be invasion of privacy - exactly the same as if I stood in the street and took photos of the inside of your home. The fact that I'm on a public space is besides the point.

    A school field these days does have a reasonable expectation of privacy, given the big fences, the hedges and all the other steps to protect our kids from paedogheddon.

    @Shaggydoggy - you bet your butt I've read it - I'm a street photographer.

  102. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    OK, so it was a marked police car

    That's even worse. There was a time when police officers took a pride in their driving, got excellent training, followed Roadcraft and tried to set a good example. No more! Only a few pursuit and diplomatic drivers get much training. The ordinary plod in a car shows about as much respect for the Highway Code as anyone else.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Andy Enderby

    erm... how so?? Thatcher would have made a more bruising attempt at stopping all this stuff and nonsense in the UK today: crime would be lower because the penalties would be proportionate (unlike today), no dilly dallying around with all this EU crap (We are the UK! Not PART of the EU!), results would have been sorted, and she wouldn't be pumping millions upon millions of pounds into black holes like the NHS (all these highly paid consultants? Signed on as permenant employees.. or will this stop peoples right to work..???) and the 'so-called-peoples bank' (Northern Rock).

    No. Thatcher would have this sorted out and would not have sucha twitchy nation of politicians and enforcement groups making us feel liek we are all criminals..

    Those who voted for New Labour.. this is all YOUR fault! Now take it like real citezens like the rest of us!!

  104. andy

    @Christian Gerzner

    I believe the law in the UK states that you are not allowed to snap children without the permission of the parents/guardian. Anyone else is fine.

  105. Wokstation

    @Andy

    You are mistaken. If the child is in public, they may be photographed - with or without parental permission.

  106. Big Dave

    You have nothing to fear if you are innocent...

    ...AND you have infallable and obsolutely honest authorities, otherwise you are quite justified in some very big fears. Simple as that.

    It is essential that the same level of scrutiny is possible toward our authorities as they point at us else the potential (and temptation) for abuse is too immense.

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I moved to landscapes and waterfalls...

    I used to love taking pictures of railway stations, early 20th century ones, but the looks and questions, just got too much. I now only take pictures of country landscapes and waterfalls. I make sure that no one is in the picture, except those who agreed to be in it and always try to avoid capturing habitable buildings.

    I hate feeling like "they" have won, but I want to enjoy my hobby without getting beaten up by some bored psycho copper or judgmental jobs-worth security guard...

  108. A Lewis

    @ Wokstation

    Sorry, your statement is not generally applicable. In Australia, it is the photographer that has to be on the private property for the landowner to have rights to prohibit their actions. If you are taking photographs from outside the school grounds, there is nothing to stop you unless you are causing a nuisance (possibly if you're there every day) the images are indecent, or they're in a setting where the subject may have an expectation of privacy (e.g. in toilets, change rooms etc. Not just on private property which is in plain view of public areas.) I suspect this may actually be the case in other jurisdictions as well (but IANAL, YMMV, MTG). Mind you, the teachers have a legal duty to question your actions but, if you have a reasonable explanation, no right to stop you.

  109. Nano nano

    Extra camera function

    Strikes me what cameras and phones need is a 'copy to secure backup' feature that meant that you could delete the visible pictures for the plod, but retained your images. Since the secure backup would be encrypted and hidden (via Bluetooth even ?) this would not be in evidence ...

  110. NT

    @ Landscapes and Waterfalls

    "I used to love taking pictures of railway stations, early 20th century ones, but the looks and questions, just got too much. I now only take pictures of country landscapes and waterfalls."

    While I have to admit railway stations wouldn't be my cup of photographic tea, and you'd far more likely find me snapping landscapes and waterfalls anyway (and good skies - I love good, interesting skies; and forest and woodland*), I think that's a great shame.

    Remember, people today are paranoid. That's the *point* of the constant talk about terrorists and paedophiles: keep people frightened, they're easier to control and sell things to. They see someone taking pics, they're naturally going to do what their favourite tabloid tells them, and get worried. They're not going to look at the situation rationally because that's going to involve *independent thought*, and that's scary and confusing.

    Personally, I'd keep on doing what I wanted to do, and I'd treat approaches and challenges as an opportunity to share the hobby and maybe try to make people feel a little less jumpy about photographers. You know - my own tiny contribution to undoing some of the damage that our beloved media and politicians are wreaking on the country.

    * All right, and aeroplanes, if you must know. :o)

  111. Cacadril
    Coat

    Forgetting why police photograping demos is questionable?

    In the days of the cold war there were frequent accusations against the authorities of unreasonably recording and registering the activities of left-leaning people. The authorities generally denied or apologised, as such practise was seen as mirroring the comunist regimes' surveilance of all political opposition.

    There was a shared understanding that the authorities of a free state should not keep records of legal political activity, lists of participants of demos, or still worse, lists of demos individual had participated in. This is related to the vote being secret at elections.

    Many comments in this thread seem to believe that the policie must have unlimited permissions to photograph demos, as a mirror of the citizen's constitutional rights. Since I am not British, I don't know your laws, but in regular civilised nations, a police force does not have the same free speech and free political opinion rights as the citicens. The cops have civil rights when they are off duty. When serving, they are supposed to be politically neutral and to protect the political freedom of all citicens, wether left or right leaning.

    Of course there are conflicting considerations, since the police must have some means of discovering whatever they are supposed to prevent. They are not obligued to walk blind-folded in the streets. But there should be laws that prohibits the keeping and amassing of information about individuals except during limited times of investigation of reasonable suspictions. Evidently, such investigations must be declared through a procedure that involves a body (the courts) at some distance from the investigators.

    There were always a level of doublespeak, because everybody assumed, and mostly agreed, that a limited-size secret service would operate within wider bounds. This was generally accepted because such a service would be too small and too busy with real threats, to represent a serious danger of subvertion of the democracy. However, that was before the advent of the powerful and cheap computer and database technology.

    It is a pity that so many people only react based on the subjective annoyance of being under surveilance. Democracy will be subverted unless the public maintains some knowledge of "abstract" or "theoretical" concepts and principles, and are willing to fight for them. Don't the schools teach the principles underlying democracy?

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @We've missed the point, again

    There is no ban on smoking in public.

  113. TranceMist

    Worse than US

    Whenever I get frustrated with how the US treats photography, I need only look at the UK to feel better.

  114. Wokstation

    @A Lewis

    "Sorry, your statement is not generally applicable. In Australia..."

    Note the .co.uk on the site address. I was talking from a UK perspective.

    In the UK, it all hinges on "reasonable expectation of privacy", which a schoolchild in school has.

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @By Mark

    a) you're wrong: you are standing on public property and the school's public access means they are not private property.

    Um not in the US. In California if you walked on to school property during school hours you must register with the front office. This applies to non students at the school. Failure to register is a misdemeanor. OH yeah you cant be on the side walk if they ask you to leave,

    627.2. No outsider shall enter or remain on school grounds during

    school hours without having registered with the principal or

    designee, except to proceed expeditiously to the office of the

    principal or designee for the purpose of registering. If signs

    posted in accordance with Section 627.6 restrict the entrance or

    route that outsiders may use to reach the office of the principal or

    designee, an outsider shall comply with such signs.

    627.3. In order to register, an outsider shall upon request furnish

    the principal or designee with the following:

    (1) His or her name, address, and occupation.

    (2) His or her age, if less than 21.

    (3) His or her purpose in entering school grounds.

    (4) Proof of identity.

    (5) Other information consistent with the purposes of this chapter

    and with other provisions of law.

    No person who furnishes the information and the proof of identity

    required by this section shall be refused registration except as

    provided by Section 627.4.

    627.4. (a) The principal or his or her designee may refuse to

    register an outsider if he or she has a reasonable basis for

    concluding that the outsider's presence or acts would disrupt the

    school, its students, its teachers, or its other employees; would

    result in damage to property; or would result in the distribution or

    use of unlawful or controlled substances.

    (b) The principal, his or her designee, or school security officer

    may revoke an outsider's registration if he or she has a reasonable

    basis for concluding that the outsider's presence on school grounds

    would interfere or is interfering with the peaceful conduct of the

    activities of the school, or would disrupt or is disrupting the

    school, its students, its teachers, or its other employees.

    627.5. Any person who is denied registration or whose registration

    is revoked may request a hearing before the principal or

    superintendent on the propriety of the denial or revocation. The

    request shall be in writing, shall state why the denial or revocation

    was improper, shall give the address to which notice of hearing is

    to be sent, and shall be delivered to either the principal or the

    superintendent within five days after the denial or revocation. The

    principal or superintendent shall promptly mail a written notice of

    the date, time, and place of the hearing to the person who requested

    the hearing. A hearing before the principal shall be held within

    seven days after the principal receives the request. A hearing

    before the superintendent shall be held within seven days after the

    superintendent receives the request.

    627.6. At each entrance to the school grounds of every public

    school at which this chapter is in force, signs shall be posted

    specifying the hours during which registration is required pursuant

    to Section 627.2, stating where the office of the principal or

    designee is located and what route to take to that office, and

    setting forth the applicable requirements of Section 627.2 and the

    penalties for violation of this chapter.

    627.7. (a) It is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the

    county jail not to exceed six months, or by a fine not to exceed

    five hundred dollars ($500), or by both, for an outsider to fail or

    refuse to leave the school grounds promptly after the principal,

    designee, or school security officer has requested the outsider to

    leave or to fail to remain off the school grounds for 7 days after

    being requested to leave, if the outsider does any of the following:

    a) Any person who comes into any school building or upon

    any school ground, or street, sidewalk, or public way adjacent

    thereto, without lawful business thereon, and whose presence or acts

    interfere with the peaceful conduct of the activities of the school

    or disrupt the school or its pupils or school activities, is guilty

    of a misdemeanor if he or she does any of the following:

    (1) Remains there after being asked to leave by the chief

    administrative official of that school or his or her designated

    representative, or by a person employed as a member of a security or

    police department of a school district pursuant to Section 39670 of

    the Education Code, or a city police officer, or sheriff or deputy

    sheriff, or a Department of the California Highway Patrol peace

    officer.

  116. Mark

    @Anonymous Coward

    Well, I'm not in the US.

    You have to have the foyer in the main building, so you must go on this land to get permission to go on this land (if you take your quotes of law to be correct in the black-and-white).

    However, I never said anything about having to be ON school property to take a photo on that property anyway.

    I guess it depends whether you think taking photos of children is only done for sexual gratification or sexual purposes. If you do, then it should be illegal to take photos of children. If you don't think this, they it should not be illegal.

  117. Mark

    @Wokstation

    "Taking photos of a private space can indeed be invasion of privacy - exactly the same as if I stood in the street and took photos of the inside of your home."

    Someone was jailed for exposure (in the US I think, but that doesn't matter much). They were in their own home and someone could see their willy by looking in through the window.

    So how come this person complaining wasn't jailed for being a peeping tom or invading the privacy of the person standing stark bollock naked in their home?

    Because that's not what the law says. It may be how the law is applied in some cases.

  118. Wokstation

    @Mark

    Actually, it was because he was male. Had it been a woman, whoever saw her would have been done as a peeping tom.

    THAT is how the law works.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    "The week after the Tube terror attacks, the Police were asking anyone with a camera if they had any photos. I was approached by this chap because I was carrying a nice-looking camera:"

    It would be nice to tell them that you saw someone behaving very suspiciously but did not take a picture because you know the police consider anyone using a camera is a terrorist.

  120. Jared Earle
    Flame

    @AC

    "It would be nice to tell them that you saw someone behaving very suspiciously but did not take a picture because you know the police consider anyone using a camera is a terrorist."

    http://blog.23x.net/14/photography-terrorism-and-how-its-all-changed.html

  121. paul carrington
    Alert

    @heystupid

    "But then again , if ten million dear old loveable grannies all pulled out cameras and started taking photographs of everything that crosses their path , nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety times out of ten million , the wowsers won't even say one word to them, merely just look at the dear old loveable granny with the camera and then walk away and go about their normal business as usual as though they did not exist !"

    I'm afraid even grannies are no longer safe:

    http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/mostpopular.var.2407429.mostviewed.betty_82_and_brenda_69_told_off_for_taking_pool_snaps.php

  122. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conspiracy? I see no conspiracy.

    No, plod's reaction to being photographed is not a direct conspiracy, but it is the fruit of the general promotion of "paranoia" as the normal mental state: if you get the police worried about being the targets of terrorism, they'll react to people "reconnoitering" them with cameras. Which will feed the rest of the population's paranoia, keeping us all scared little sheeple.

    There's your conspiracy.

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