This. Has got. To Stop.

We seem to be becoming increasingly paranoid about photographers. People taking photographs are being frequently challenged by police. We have increasingly weird ideas of image rights and what permission is needed to take photographs in public spaces.

This is just the latest case.

It is often argued that people taking photographs of things some people don’t think are interesting should expect to have to justify themselves. This is a bad and small minded argument, however it doesn’t even apply here. He was photographing a church. An actual architectural landmark. Surely that point could be appreciated by even the most unimaginative of idiots?

Apparently not.

Austin Mitchell MP raised an early day motion about police intimidation of photographers. It hasn’t seemed to work so follwing this case he has submitted a new one.

Petitions about photography on the Number 10 website have been met with the response that photography in public places is not illegal. This misses the point- it needs to be made clear to the police that it’s not illegal and a greater degree of suspision is required before challenging people who photograph in public places. ACPO have in the past issued guidance on what the legal position of Police Officers challenging photographers is. The message appeared not to be getting through to the officers on the ground. Now worried by reports of misconduct in the press, ACPO are issuing their members with a warning. I hope it gets through to beat officers this time.

I’m wondering whether the mistrust of photographers is a problem with police culture, or one in society as a whole which is affecting some individual officers conduct. Either way- the paranoia must stop.

Being watchful and careful in public will make us safer as a nation. But this must be done calmly and intelligently. Fear, paranoia and mistrust do not make us safer.

Further reading:

LibDem Voice:

  • Tis the Season to be Wary – Lib Dem Voice
  • Warning: Do not take this picture – The Independent
  • Police U-turn on photographers and anti-terror laws – The Independent
  • Is Photography the new Crime? – Andrew Reeves
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