The Guardian newspaper recently ran an article on an Italian art student, who was stopped by a Police Community Support Officer for questioning about her filming a building in London, and was subsequently arrested and fined for harassment. The video is below, and a subsequent follow up video by a journalist for the Guardian can be seen here. These come after the police officers were told by their the top brass to stop using anti-terrorism laws to stop and search photographers for doing nothing more than taking photos. There’s also plenty of info on police harassment of photographers at Amateur Photography.
But what strikes me as the most completely pointless aspect of this abuse of the Section 44 powers, is that it is designed to achieve nothing. Fact is, that anyone can legally photograph a building or anything/anyone else providing they are on public land. In other words, the pavement. The powers allow police officers to stop anybody whatsoever, to ask them what they are doing, and to review the photographs they have been taking. But that’s it. They cannot even demand the person tell them their name or address. So they have the ability to stop a terrorist, but also the obligation to let him continue on his way with nothing achieved. And that, apparently, is worth the harassment of hundreds of innocent photographers.
Another obvious question that springs to mind, is what do the police officers do if they stop a person using a film camera, or a digital camera with a non functioning LCD monitor? I have another video to post tomorrow regards photographers rights. I for one have made the effort to know what my rights are, and when in the UK will exercise them to the full. I’d love to know exactly where I stand on this issue is Mexico though!