Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Policing the public gaze: Police harrassment of photographers

The police campaign against amateur photographers is still in full swing. Yesterday's Guardian reported that:
Police questioned an amateur photographer under anti-terrorist legislation and later arrested him, claiming pictures he was taking in a Lancashire town were "suspicious" and constituted "antisocial behaviour".
This is despite promises last year from senior officers last year that the police would scale down their use of anti-terrorist legislation, such as Section 44 of the act, after a series of high-profile cases in which photographers said they had been harassed by police for taking innocuous images in the street.

As Random Blowe says of this case:
it seems apparent that the photographer was targeted for knowing his rights and choosing to exercise them. Having failed to get what they wanted under one piece of legislation, they simply picked another - as if the law is a armory of weapons against the public that can be dipped into whenever police officers want to get their own way.
If you are concerned about this issue you should watch the video of an interview with Pauline Hadaway on the WORLDbytes site. Hadaway is director of the photography gallery Belfast Exposed and author of Policing the Public Gaze, which was published by the Manifesto Club.

In the interview Joe Earle asks Pauline Hadaway to explain more. We learn how in the past subjects were not allowed to gaze upon the king and with the advent of cheap cameras many feared women and the lower orders snapping away. The muddled authoritarianism today she tells us, which restricts our right to look, is born of a more pernicious distrust and impedes our rights as citizens.


Matt Wardman said...

May I cross-post this piece, please. It is excellent?

My latest theory is that we are back with "savage tribes come to the UK", and police are scared that taking a photograph will steal their souls.

mtconleyuk said...

The power trip that these PSCOs are on is palpable in the video footage. These are clearly ignorant, insecure little men who have been given power and responsibility far beyond their capabilities. The police themselves, of course, ride to their support, as they're all one happy band of brothers.

This really has to be stopped before we're all being stopped and requested to show our papers on a regular basis.

Jonathan Calder said...


Please feel free to cross-post.


There is a depressing piece in the Guardian today on the likely use of drones by the police.

Old Holborn said...

Cross posted at my place too


wolfi said...

And I was brought up to believe England was the most free of all countries.

When I read sometime ago about that German(or Austrian) being arrested in London for photographing a bus depot (or something similar) I thought he must have been acting strange, but now I don't know what to think ...