Given that the UK is claimed to be one of the most surveilled countrys compared to other industrialised Western states, with upwards of 4.2m CCTV cameras (about one for every 14 people!) and almost certainly increasing daily, its quite bizarre that there should be such paranoia about folk innocently taking photographs in public places.
Yet there is. A paranoia, moreover, deliberately fostered by State agencies and the Police. (See this post on my principal blog)
What’s even more worrying is when the Police actively obstruct Press photographers, photojournalists and the like, from performing their legitimate and legal function of documenting newsworthy events.
And not just actively obstruct them, but treat them as though they are criminals or even terrorists!
In their words…
Increasing concerns about terrorism, paedophilia, health and safety, personal privacy and plain old paranoia about pretty much anything Her Majesty’s subjects get up to has resulted in a deep mistrust of photographers.
Police routinely invoke anti-terror legislation to prevent photographers from carrying out their work, and photojournalists are constantly filmed at public gatherings and their details kept on an ever-growing database. Tourists, particularly foreign tourists, are also targeted by police, as was the case with an Austrian father and son recently who made the mistake of photographing a building of an extremely sensitive nature—Walthamstow bus station.
Put simply, Britain has become a no-photo zone, and so if you fail to comply, you may find yourself liable to attack, arrest or harassment. Recognising that Britain is not the only country where such a draconian anti-photographer culture is developing, the British Journal of Photography is beginning an international visual campaign to raise awareness.
Over the next year we hope to gather thousands of self-portraits of photographers – professional and amateur – from around the world, each holding up a white card with the words, “Not a crime” or “I am not a terrorist”.
Check it out now, before its too late and you have to forever mothball your cameras or risk incarceration.
P.S.: The banner heading this post is downloadable in two different sizes from the “Not a crime” campaign website, and will be a permanent feature at the foot of this blog until its message is well and truly got across!
I’ve also created a new dedicated set on Flickr that I may well add to periodically!