In recent weeks, there have been a few posts dotted around my little corner of the blogosphere regarding photography. Evidently taking photos of the police is now illegal as they could be used by terrorists. That argument sounds pants, is pants, and is yet brought into law - and has been so since the 16th February 2009.
A few weeks back, I wrote a blog on how I'd taken a few photos of firefighters dealing with an incident @ Sarah Tower in Mancheter. It turned out to by my most successful blog, and my friend Andrew Reid (who'd taken the photos) had them published on the BBC News Official Website, and then used on North West Tonight (the BBC's local news in the North West). We had a few pictures with firemen in, a fair bit of smoke - and they provided a good little snapshot of the fire.
Since then, I've taken my digital camera everywhere with me. Testament to what I'm hoping to acheive out in India - documenting anything from the banal to the eventful is something which has far more 'power' when there's a photo associated. No one would have bothered to read my blog for my view on the fire - to be honest, no one probably cares for my view. However, having the photos here made people come, and once they were here they may have spent two minutes reading the story.
Tonight, I found out that Dave Walker had been walking his dog down in Devon - and happened upon a Police Incident with a few Police Cars and an Ambulance in attendance. Since he was carrying a camera, the Police stopped him and asked him to show them his camera so that he could prove he'd taken no photos of the police - as well as his name and address.
I find this story to be yet another example of the subversive methods that are being used by authority in order to get more control. Actions like these reduce confidence in the police to 'serve and protect' - and instead make the average citizen view them as authoritarian. I find it is a sad indictment of the 'developed civilisations' that the people in power are having to regress the average man's civil liberties - but for what ends?
I'm not sure on the latter. I think speculation on this is what moves us from the realm of fact into the realm of conspiracy theory. The fact that people are prevented from photographing the police is fact. There can be no two ways about it. However - this law is so open to abuse that's it's increidbly 'un-funny.'
76 Offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc
(1) After section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (collection of information) insert—
“58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc
(1) A person commits an offence who—
(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—
(i) a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information.
(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to a fine, or to both;
(b) on summary conviction—
(i) in England and Wales or Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
(ii) in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
(4) In this section “the intelligence services” means the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ (within the meaning of section 3 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (c. 13)).
(5) Schedule 8A to this Act contains supplementary provisions relating to the offence under this section.”.
I would love to hear your experiences, similar or otherwise.