Under an idiotic new law, photographers in the UK can be stopped and their cameras, memory cards and film seized:

“If officers reasonably suspect that photographs are being taken as part of hostile terrorist reconnaissance, a search under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or an arrest should be considered.” More here.

Photographers Rights UK.

This seems to be part of a continuing fear the police there have of photographers. Here’s a poster from last year asking the public to look out for suspicious looking snappers:

Thanks, Sarah Ewing.

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  1. I was in London just over a year ago and over the course of a few hours I was stopped on 2 separate occasions for taking photos. The officers were generally very nice about it, asking about my gear and explaining that its just a formality.

    They whole story is here: http://baumannphoto.blogspot.com/2008/01/15-miles.html

    It includes scans of the citations I received for taking photos. Although it seems like they may have stepped things up a notch since I was there…

  2. I have been stopped and searched twice by British Police and it is not fun at all. It doesn’t matter that they will eventually let you continue as after they have been through your pockets, bags, personal details and unfriendly questioning, you are hardly left in the mood for taking more pictures. I have done a lot of research into this already. You can read my experience and what I found out on my blog:


    Thanks Rob for spreading the word this issue.


  3. I think it is prudent. I used to work in government, so I know a little about this area. Sadly the climate has called for measures like this. We only have terrorists to thank for this intrusion into our world. I point the child like finger at terrorists who set the stage and scream “HE DID IT!”

    The officers are probably trained to open dialogue to engage the photographer, and gauge it from there. Does the person break out in an immediate sweat and stammer, while talking into his untraceable cellphone? Or does he/she say, “I have always wanted to show my mother what Parliaments Architecture looks like;” all while asking directions to the next Jack the Ripper tour.

    People get pissed off because the government doesn’t do anything BEFORE a terrorist attack, but we want to walk blindly along, and huff about stuff like this. I am on the conservative side of this one. I am happy to engage any police officer into a discussion over exposure settings any day. Sadly for us, photography is a huge reconnaissance method.

    We should be more pissed off terrorists are disguising themselves as photographers! And move on………

    • @Debra Frieden, And before you say I haven’t been through this, I have. I was 17, approached by machine gun toting Egyptian military and had film ripped out of my Minolta. I was photographing a mother with her three children at the train station. And yes, I miss the photographs, I think they would have been incredible shots. I turn the page, and move along…..yeah it sucks.

    • @Debra Frieden, What’s scary is people really think as you. I’ve traveled to some of the places I dare not ask your opinion of.

      I’ve photographed Pakistani’s in NWFP and Afghans in refugee camps. I’ve sat with Iranian women and photographed plenty of bridges in that same country.

      Never once was I questioned why I wanted to.

      Then again in China I was chased by army types for daring to photograph Tienanmen square when a man was making a speech our free speach. hmm, that sounds familiar …

      In a return to London I couldn’t even ask a local policeman for directions anymore!Let alone produce a deadly camera in front of him.

      If I want a close up photograph of the latest check points around Parliament I’ll go to google earth or similar. If I want snap shots of the copper outside No. 10 then I’ll speak to the guy with a 5 MP camera phone walking by pretending to be on the phone.

      Or the bloke with bluetooth camera glasses who really is not asking for directions.

      Luckily those things don’t interest me.

      I am take photographs of day to day life. Police happen to be a part of that as public figures the world over. So too are demonstrations, street life and public places.

      “The officers are probably trained to open dialogue” Even a Government spokesperson has said that there needed to be more training for officers on the law.

      Then again I am already most likely deemed a terrorist by view points like yours. My passport stamps alone must surely prove that. Never mind my photographs of day to day lives of everyday people the world over.

      By gosh, you really are living in 1984 aren’t you. Then again, it’s safer there isn’t it!

      • @Dave, My muslim friends parents sent him to London because of all the random, awful, beheadings in his country by muslim extremists. To live safely in England, by English law. It’s not just your average white chick….

        • @Debra Frieden, strangely enough I’ve heard of quite a few people locked up with all rights removed in a place called Guantanamo Bay. That’s pretty nasty too. Also something about violation of human rights, torture etc.

          Likewise the amount of people living the UK (I beleive it’s a UK law and not just ‘England’) is higher than ever. Visitors to the mid east and asia are on the increase. People want to see for themselves what it’s like there.

          Again, strangely people visiting ‘muslim’ countries come away finding it a lot safer walking the streets there then in the UK.

          While bad things happen in Muslim countries they also happen in Christian, Hindu, and “democratic” free countries the world over.

          The UK may be a great place to live, but laws like this are making it slip terribly.

          • @Dave, Oh I agree. American is in need of looking inward and sorting some things out. I still love our democratic process. Obama, is an exciting change for us. I am excited to see how he helps redefine our country.

            I am sorry to hear of such troubles in the UK. I did see your website. Very, very interesting. Good luck with your explorations of the world. Be safe in your journey’s.

            • @Debra Frieden, I truly believe in the Democratic approach. And for the most part the American ideal.

              I just see civil rights slipping away under the guise of protecting. Hopefully a change in the presidency will help. But again, I think a lot of this is bottle necked these days. Hopefully I am wrong.

              Thank you for the good wishes.

    • @Debra Frieden, How I laughed at the notion that terrorists “disguise themselves as Photographer”. What nonsense!

      A terrorist does not need a disguise, they are people that look just like the rest of the community they live in.

      This act by the UK Government is just what the terrorists want. They have stuck fear into the very core of our previously quite pleasant society.

      Don’t let them win! We should all insist that our government repeal these ridiculous laws immediately.

      • @Stephen Counsell, Terrorists cut off Danny Pearl’s head. Seems that terrorists were thinking he was “disguised” under a different pretense. Laughable?

  4. If terrorists were to take pictures you would never notice it. They would not be out in the open with their camera taking snaps.

    I was stopped by the police once here in The Netherlands when I took some photos of the police bureau. That did feel a bit awkward, but they explained there had been some threats to police bureaus recently, and I explained why I was taking pictures. They were pretty friendly, they just asked me not to publish the photos.
    The funny thing is it was the backside of the police bureau and I didn’t even realize it was the bureau at the moment I made the photos.

  5. The poster came out some time ago, and led to some ‘variations’ on the theme! There are some examples here:

  6. @Jan, “If terrorists were to take pictures you would never notice it. “. And if a terrorist traveled to America took flight lessons (skipping the landing part) you never would have noticed it. And if suspicious men with case cutters boarded your plane you would have never noticed. And if a bomber planted a bomb in the parking garage of the World Trade Center you never would have noticed.

    When would you recommend we start taking notice?

    • @sdogood,

      Thank you. You saved me the trouble of writing the same response.

    • @sdogood,

      Yes that comparison really makes a lot of sense..

      And indeed it’s true if a terrorist were to take flying lessons you would likely never notice it, because on the outside they look just the same as we do. And before they decide to become terrorists, they ARE people just like you and me.

      Ofcourse potential terrorism should be investigated and hopefully be prevented, but these kind of laws labeling every photographer a potential terrorist won’t help much at that.

      As a photographer, and a general member of our society you should be opposed to these kind of strange laws, which restrict our freedom as citizens.

  7. Are sketch artists and painters also questioned? Can a “scribbler’s” sketch pad or a watercolorists easel and paints be confiscated if they’re standing out front of #10 or the local police station? How long is a person allowed to “loiter” near these buildings, or anywhere on an English street? Where does it end? How much restriction on freedom of movement are British citizens going to tolerate? Granted, terrorist acts are more common (relatively) than they are in the U.S. Seems to me, though, that the terrorists are winning that battle on more or less a global scale. How far do we tolerate fear or let it control our actions? Where do we draw the line at risk?

    • @Mike Shipman, I love your shot of the Boise fair swing chairs image ms070820159.jpg

      That is the moment when you click the perfect shot. When magic happens!

      • @Debra Frieden, Thanks! I enjoy photographing fairs, but not every year.

  8. Unfortunately, I think this is only the beginning. I’ve never been stopped in London, but I’ve been stopped plenty of times in the United States. Last week I was stopped by a sheriff’s department cruiser, questioned and “released” although I was never really “held” in the first place. We had a nice sidewalk chat after the arm waving was over.
    In this case, I expected to be stopped, as I was photographing planes, and knew it was the kind of thing that would attract attention.

    However, for me, this isn’t the worst of the problem. The problem is what happens to the public when they see a poster like that and take their one oz of authority as a human security cam and turn it into one pound of misguided, Jason Bourne style recon.

    Like I said, I’ve been stopped by the police, but I’ve been stopped WAY more times by the general public, who now suddenly think they are the law when it comes to public photography.

    The most recent, and perhaps the most entertaining was the end of the Newport Beach jetty, a 300-yard field of boulders requiring one to scramble to the end, leaving you with a beautiful view of…..of…..nothing but the ocean.
    The camera raised to my eye, for no particular reason other than being where I was, only to hear, “Hey, you can’t take pictures here.”
    A fisherman, also alone, trying to enforce the invisible law. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Ya, you can’t any pictures here.” He had no reason, other than that was how he reacted when he saw a camera. And I shoot a tiny little camera by the way.

    THIS is the problem, for me anyway. The beach(even with all seven permits you need, another problem), the downtown streets, sidewalks in New York, and just about any other place you can imagine.

    What these terror bills have done is turn the masses against the camera, and consequently against us. We are now required to educate the masses, if possible, on what we do, and frankly, I don’t think anyone really cares.

  9. Didn’t I spoon feed this to you last week Rob?

    If you want to read something scary in the U.S. check out the “Lower Manhattan Project”. I have post about it at http://www.thephotorebellion.com.

    Or Rob will post about it next week, right Rob.

  10. @Jan — I love “they just asked me not to pubish…” and you felt OK about that? @sdogood, et al: the whole point is that it’s futile to try to identify terrorists based on attire, profession, etc. shall we start ‘noticing’ when someone boards a train? a plane? enters a crowded mall? at that point, what’s to notice?

    I had this experience in the NYC subway some years back, and the (idiot) cop who stopped me said that when they approach photographers they watch to see if they ‘get nervous’ because that’s what a ‘terrorist’ would likely do. Then, he hastened to add, ‘unless they’re professionals.’ WTF? Of course they are! I showed more jitters than any terrorist worth his/her salt would show.

    He also said that it was perfectly fine to take out a pen and pad and draw a picture. :-/ Think about it people — this type of restrictive law has no logical limit.

    • @jsight, “Think about it people — this type of restrictive law has no logical limit.”

      Actually, it does. Most people are not good artists and could never capture the detail that a photograph can. Also, you can be surreptitious about picture taking. Just ask Walker Evans.

    • @jsight,

      Well yes I didn’t have a problem with that really. I was making photos for a course, so I had no intention in publishing them in the first place.
      Ofcourse they never could have inforced their request, or they would have taken the film from my camera, luckily they can’t just do that.
      With these kind of laws being introduced, they just might be allowed to do that in the future..

  11. wow, I thought it was just the US that was fearful of everything it jumps at its own shadow…way to go UK! you’ve out did us by upping fear and stupidity beyond that of the United States, whoohoo

  12. Has GW and his cronies moved to Britan?

  13. Well, I’m glad everyone is discussing this issue, that was my motivation for filming my trip to Scotland Yard this week. It seems to me that our troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq, currently fighting for freedoms that we are, at the same time, losing on the streets of London. I am in good company in thinking this….on exactly the same day as the Photographers protest, Stella Rimington, former head of the UK’s secret service, MI5…spoke out:

    “Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has accused the Government of exploiting people’s fear of terrorism to restrict civil rights.

    Ministers risked handing a victory to terrorists who want people to “live in fear and under a police state”, said the former spy, who retired as Director General of the Security Service in 1996.

    Full Story on the Times Web site: http://tinyurl.com/altb8t

  14. […] Photographers are Now Terrorists in the U.K.: The laws introduced today allow for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone who takes pictures of police officers that are likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. […]

  15. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jun/05/news.terrorism

    Interesting article from a while back about the idea of a ‘movie plot threat’ relating to the weird idea that terrorists actually use photos to plan attacks.

    My reaction to all this is more weary submission rather than righteous indignation. Possibly because my photo-taking career began after 9/11, I’ve never known a time when it wasn’t deemed suspicious to take photographs in public.

  16. Cameras don’t blow up buildings, shoot bullets, nor release toxic gas. Photographs don’t carry out acts of terrorism…PEOPLE do. Dealing with threats to the well-being of society is far-above the level of a street cop questioning someone about what they are taking pictures of. C’mon people use your heads! For those of you that don’t understand this, I guess you don’t mind the continuation of giving up your rights, paving the way for all of us to become “suspects.” Police state, fear, police state, fear, police state, fear…

  17. Folks for REALLLL read Orwell’s 1984 then you will see the light. Even fear will turn Superman into a puppet.

    About behaving calmly and non nervous when facing a cop? Yeap, right.

    UK Cops “probably trained to open dialogue to engage the photographer.” I am happy to know that. But somehow someone at the Parliament forgot to tell those cops to be in uniform and show their badges before they chased any non photographer, like that young man from Brazil and lethally, ask questions later, popping him a few time behind his back. All in the name of FEAR.

    Think more than twice before pulling that long lens to shoot a lady, all in read, and her Staffordshire Bull terrier all in read too crossing Penny LN.

    Make sure there aint a cop way yonder and out of your view. Otherwise he will think that you are “shooting” him.

    Debra Weiss:
    “Also, you can be surreptitious about picture taking. Just ask Walker Evans.”

    Debra during my last séance W.E. told me exactly that. Where you there too? But he also said that he didnt had to deal with any Red, Orange or Yellow alert :) and any grabbing of our liberties.
    Liberty? DAMN , Very few of those are left.

    Manuello Paganelli

    • @Manuello Paganelli,

      Yes Manuello, I speak with him often! And no, he didn’t have to deal with multi-colored alerts. He lived in a different world – literally and figuratively.

  18. This is one in a long series of draconian and ill-thought out measures to limit civil liberties under the guise of anti-terrorist legislation. You should see what they’ve got planned for monitoring everyone’s e-mail, text and internet history. The UK is a short hop to a police state – I certainly wouldn’t interact with a police officer unless it was something very serious, which is sad when they’re supposedly in place to serve us. I actually feel slightly uncomfortable posting this view, which says as much as you need to know.

  19. I edit British Journal of Photography, and as you can imagine, we’ve run a lot of stories on the latest counter-terrorism measures, and in fact broke the story to the wider media.

    This is just one of many stories:


    But this is not just a blatant plug. I’d like to put some perspective on this.

    The real problem is that although the new counter terrorism measures are not in any way designed to stop photographers taking pictures of police, that’s exactly how they will be (mis)used.

    The wording of the newly amended act is only slightly different from that introduced in 2000, and is designed to criminalise terrorists involved in reconnaissance. That’s to say, they can be charged for something BEFORE they blow anyone up, if caught in the planning. Which sounds fair enough right?

    The problem is that counter-terrorism legislation brought in in 2000 is already being used to hassle photographers, and in some cases stop them taking pictures – sometimes out of sheer boredom, or more often in a misguided attempt to ‘protect’ the public realm. The new act specifically mentions photographing police (who do, by the way, have real fears of being identified and targeted by terrorists), and therefore WILL be (mis)quoted by police when stopping photographers going about their work.

    Most of this misuse is pretty stupid stuff, such as a press photog I know who was prevented from shooting a long taxi queue outside a London railway station on a slow news day, because the area was deemed high risk. As is often the case, the officer refused to look at his press ID – a card that was instigated and is administered by the London Metropolitan Police.

    At other times it’s more insipid. Police are misquoting the European Human Rights Act with regards to their privacy, or preventing photogs from shooting accident scenes because they consider that distasteful. It’s part of a wider public trend towards regarding photography as something intrusive – something that intrudes on their individual rights.

    Police authorities and government here in the UK tell us they have codes in place to prevent these situations happening, but they continue at an increasing rate. In other words, we’re not fighting some draconian right-wing government that could be argued with or contested. We’re up against rank-and-file officers who are either ignorant of codes and the general right to photography in public, or who are misusing their powers because they think they’re doing the right thing, and don’t understand the consequences of this slow creep towards control of the press.

    Whether the lack of action by police authorities or government to rectify this misuse of power signals something darker depends on your opinion, but I think we should see it as part of a gradual erosion of freedoms that offer us very little real safety in return. It’s like all those ‘health and safety’ measures introduced across our schools and hospitals and so on that make authorities believe they’re acting responsibly but in fact deny all common sense.

    I know that a bit of aggravation is little enough to put up with in the face of real threat, but there is also real danger is the approach that says, “If you’re innocent, you have nothing to worry about”.

    In Britain, we have to ask why we are the most spied-upon nation on earth, yet the act of taking a photograph in a public place has become a calculated risk, which just might get you arrested, or beaten up.

    On a wider scale, maybe we should be more suspicious of counter terrorism measures, and we should certainly question whether we (the West) are shining the light for democracy through our example.


  20. @Debra Frieden

    Photography has nothing to do with terrorism. It was inept government that allowed 9/11 to happen. Not photographs. Remember when the INS granted Mohammed Atta his student visa to study flying in the US, six months AFTER the attacks? That was the kind of intelligent counter terrorism that our country was practicing. Revising history to make photography somehow complicit in a government failure is a red herring. Plain and simple.

    People, and governments, may be afraid of photography, but it is for other reasons.

    • @a.m., It was extremist terrorists that “allowed” 9/11 to happen. Point the finger where it belongs.

      • @Debra Frieden, you are using a somewhat bizarre logic here. No one would argue that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were not carried out by terrorists.

        Photography, however, is not a threat. You seem to make an unsubstantiated leap that terrorism and photography are somehow related. Or am I misreading here and you are in fact being ironic?

        • @a.m., “It was inept government that allowed 9/11 to happen.” It’s important that the distinction is made WHO did what to whom.

          I think we all are in agreement we don’t want our freedoms to shoot in public infringed upon. I think Simon from the British Journal of Photography, above clarified it was a small alteration in the current law. The problem is the bullying delivery (by law enforcement) not intended by the law. Hopefully it will sort itself out. If and when I go to London, I will be happily shooting. Bring it on.

  21. Trying doing street shooting in Bucharest, Romania where it’s as if Communism and Ceausescu never died! The suspicion of people is unlike anything I have encountered anywhere else in the world. Just toay while on assignment for The International Herald Tribune I encountered the most dangerous situation I have ever been in–I was thrown out of a traditional butchers and escaped being, well sliced, by a cleaver that the butcher tried to throw at me. . . Somehow telling them I was a curious tourist who was used to American supermarkets and was very interested in seeing how they cut and quartered meat didn’t go over too well. Fortunately, a few drinks with Leslie Hawke (mother of the American actor Ethan Hawke) at a posh central hotel here has calmed me down!

    • @Davin Ellicson, Glad you are ok. That must have been very frightening.

      • @Debra Frieden, well, yes, and I was cursing this country under my breath for the next hour, but drinks and good company made things a whole lot better a while later!

        • @Davin Ellicson, I do not even want to imagine being in your shoes. Nice recovery.

  22. @Simon

    That is a good piece of perspective. I wonder where the fear of photography comes from, and I think some of it lays in the fact that the police on the ground who do the daily grunt work of law enforcement know that they are caught up in systems and bureaucracies that are much bigger than them, but it is they who personally are under examination if they are photographed in the act of doing something untoward.

    Not long ago I was drinking in a bar with some firefighters. When they heard that I was a photographer, one put his finger in my chest and said, “You are the enemy.” The reason he felt this way was 1) he was drunk and 2) that so often photographers can only mean a kind of scrutiny that causes them discomfort or even criticism or discipline.

    I think that this is somewhat where the backlash comes from the beat policemen. You are right to observe that the letter of the law is intended to offer an opportunity to prosecute terrorists before they commit an act of terrorism, but the practice may well become a serious violation of free speech and expression.

    A similar bill was proposed in New York City that was met with massive public international protest, and the debate that ensued resulted in a very reasonable set of guidelines.

  23. I’m looking forward to studying abroad in the UK this fall. This article really bothers me, as I am an avid photographer and am really planning on taking a lot of my lenses with me… I hope this law relaxes a little between now and then. People today! Sigh.

    • @Leon, You will probably be fine. One fellow who fussed about this issue, gave a direct “no,” to the officer, when the officer requested to view the photo through the viewfinder. The outcome may have been different if he just said, “sure.” I am certain there are alot of people who have had easier outcomes by inquiries from law enforcement. The UK is an amazing place. Have a great trip.

  24. I wonder if the UK Government will arrest someone at Google for Google Earth?

    Or worse, arrest someone for using Google Earth and looking at parts of the UK…

    • @Thomas Pickard, lol, I think it well happen at some stage. Google is well known for its data collection.

      Sooner or later the government will get them to hand over a large chunk of that data.

      Meanwhile, continue zooming in on the bobby outside the palace

      • @Dave, Speaking of Google images, Google has a new underwater visual called “Ocean.” Created with sonar to re-create maps so you can see underneath the sea. New article in NewScientist about it. Feb 7 – 13, 2009. It will be interesting to see the visuals.

        You are forgetting what a great learning tool Google is. A child who lives in a depressed area, who cannot afford to travel, can go see the nations capitol here, Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef, etc. virtually in a classroom. I am a half full glass type of girl…..hope is the only positive energy that creates positive change.

        • @Debra Frieden, I totally agree that google have a lot of good applications out there. But as many web people have mentioned, they are collecting incredible amounts of data about us all.

          Google as a learning tool. You know I agree again. Unfortunately I don’t agree with google learning tools for depressed areas. At least not in the places I have been. Internet access is too slow to load up things like google maps, etc,.

          I keep my own images low res on the site as I know some friends from West Africa and Nepal like to tune in. Hence I took down google maps on my home page, it was taking too long on their connections.

          High speed or more to the point, regular good internet will help a lot of people in developing areas of the world.

          I like a half full glass my self. But at heart I am a pessimist that uses it for optimistic hope!

  25. Happened to me within 48 hours of arriving in London, last week. One of the police officers even said ‘yes that’s just the sort of photographs a terrorist would take’. He didn’t appear to be joking either. Then told me to move on and stop taking pictures where I was. The offending picture is here:


  26. I am planning to come to the US and will probably get into some questioning of the law why I would be taking photos in particular places

    What is the best way to deal with police in the US, of course other then
    common sense and being open and non confrontational? is there maybe a standard piece of info on the law I can print and show them?

    what would make them ease off the quickest?

    All this stuff is pretty horrendous,
    that we now have to make it soo clear
    that we are not the enemy!


    • @marc gerritsen, Carry a small book with you of your work, bio, etc. You can create a nice, large soft cover portfolio via Blurb. A nice 20 image soft portfolio of work. You never know who you might meet in the US. You may even be inclined to stop into a few Photographer’s Agents offices while here.

      • @Debra Frieden, Particularly since you shoot nice lineal architectures. I like your line use in your work.

        • @Debra Frieden, linear, not lineal. :-) More coffee please.

          • @Debra Frieden,
            thanks, good idea, will do!

  27. I can say that the situation is pretty same in many countries. In my country I was harassed badly twice for making photographs, my camera was seized and I was threatened to be jailed as a terrorist. The most ridiculous experience is from my recent trip to Magh Mela at Allahabad. I showed the police my voter id card and asked where should I ask for a formal permission letter, when they seized my camera. Nowhere it was written that photography is prohibited. They told me I should contact Mela Administrative Officer. When I contacted they asked for my press card, but I work independently so told them that I have none. They said they can’t issue a permission letter to me and they also don’t have any order prohibiting photography here, but if police harass me they can’t do anything.

  28. I have been stopped by police everywhere in the world, also when the law protected me. I know that between police and army there are a lot of people that do not want photographer to take pictures at all.
    They just do not like the idea, pheraphs someone has something to hide.
    During the years mi profession ahs become harder and harder.

    • @Fotografi, I have to say, from my experiences, I have had individuals on the street who have not wanted to be photographed either. I usually ask first, out of courtesy, and also because I am a stickler for model releases. This way there is not question when I file my copyright who is the full registered owner of said photograph.

    • @Davin Ellicson, Avoid subway stations in NY, noted.

  29. Flickr search house of parliament london 25,360 images
    google image search house of parliament london 4,750,000 images

    and that’s just the tip of the ice berg. I think it’s a bit to late to stop us photographers from helping terrorist. A terrorist could learn everything they to know about the house of parliament london almost down to the blue prints with out ever going there.

  30. I highly recommend that if you are stopped by a Policeman in the UK you take down their individual identification number which appears on their shoulder. I usually do this very obviously, they find it particularly annoying if you ask them to lend you a pen first. You can then write to complain about that specific officers lack of judgment in interpreting the anti terror laws. It is helpful if you copy your member of parliament in on the letter. I think this gentle pushing back against the law is important, its all too easy to just accept it as ‘the times we live in’.

    • @Nick Turpin, I like that! Ask them for the pen! Yes, you have to turn the police’s own power against them!

  31. Photography is not a crime!

    I read about a protest outside Scotland Yard not long ago, about this very issue. Since UK police have already shot one innocent individual they thought was a terrorist, perhaps this issue is much more serious than it looks. If governments never made mistakes, then we have nothing to worry over, but that’s an ideal that does not exist anywhere.

  32. Dear Debra Frieden –

    You sound like the sort of person who happily cheers this sort of authoritarian action on, while telling themselves with a certain smug satisfaction:

    “What do I have to worry? I’m not a terrorist. The police are only going to use these laws against those ghastly evildoers. I am an upstanding citizen and therefore have nothing to hide or fear.”

    Unfortunately throughout history many millions of people with that mentality ended up kneeling at the edge of a sandpit, with a gun stuck in the nape of their neck, mumbling to themselves: “But I didn’t do anything… this is a misunderstanding…I reported all the terrorists… I’m innoce-“

  33. Everybody who’s shot on MTA turf has been through this as well, yes?
    Here’s one for you.


    Argg..NYPD!! Save yourself the unnecessary legal trouble by A) knowing your rights, even though they may not mean much depending on the officer’s mood. B) And more importantly – learning to suck it up unless you like to spend your free time in the legal system. I know your argument is good. But YOU know it’s not being heard.

    The sad-but-true scenario here is: 1) you get arrested, you get your summons, as well as any other out-of-this-world charges they care to slap on you 2) you most likely take it to court where charges are dropped (hopefully all of them but maybe not). 3) You assist your captors in burning taxpayer money by trying to fight something that just can’t be fought. At worst, your arresting officer gets a stern talking to; that is if they, oh say, shove you off your bike or shoot you in the head right there on the subway platform.

    (Ok way too pessimistic… you get my point.)

    The big picture – as in the UK situation – is definitely worth fighting for. Because it’s something people are standing behind as a whole. But when I picture the scenario of lone photog vs. power-hungry MTA cop, I picture two children fighting over a toy. Somebody – no matter how right they think they are – needs to say, “I’ll be the bigger kid here.” And you know who’s NOT going to say that. So why don’t you?

    It pisses you off and it makes you feel helpless. So tack it on to your list of things that suck that can’t be changed, at least not in the foreseeable future. I’d rather be home and pissed than be in a detention center and be a whole lot more pissed.

    There’s a time and a place to be heard. I’m just not sure this is it. Boohoo.

  34. Hey guys, it is happening world wide. Yes, our police departments need to protect us from others and have a difficult job. However, I live in the United States and 2 years ago I was stopped by police for a couple of hours. The reason? I was taking pictures near publicly accessible rail road train tracks. I told the officers (yes, plural there were 2 of them in 2 car and from 2 different stations) that I was a professional, had business cards with me and a website – and they ignored it all. They actually fingerprinted me and said they would run them through interpol! The frustrating part was they were not even reasonable. They were rude, argumentative and threatening me the whole time. Hey, I am 45, mature and VERY polite to those that protect and serve our community. But, let’s have some common sense. At no time did I raise my voice in response, question their authority, respond impolitely. Quite the contrary. Each time I was asked a question I would respond yes sir, or no sir in a polite and smiling demeanor, even though one of them keep yelling at me he could take me downtown and arrest me and place me in jail. He said most all this before even asking me questions… Perhaps it was just a bad day at the office… And perhaps it was an overreaction. Either way, it could have been far more productive and peaceful.

  35. For those in the UK I have produced some guidelines for photographers who find themselves stopped by Police under these new laws….Here

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