Suspicious subjects for photos this season include sunsets and Christmas lights. And be especially wary of using the “wrong” sort of camera or taking the “wrong” number of photos (details which are, as yet, not revealed to ordinary, law-abiding shutterbugs).
Two more photographers have been stopped by over-zealous police officers for taking photographs of public scenes, despite being within their rights to do so.
First, a BBC photographer was stopped outside Tate Modern while taking this atmospheric shot:
Jeff Overs, 48, was photographing sunset over St Paul’s Cathedral when a policewoman, with a community support officer, told him she was “stopping people who were taking photographs, as a counter-terrorism measure” and demanded his name, address and date of birth.
The stills photographer said it so enraged him he sent the policewoman away with a “flea in her ear” but not before he had been issued with an anti-terrorism stop and search form.
“I was outraged at such an infringement of my liberty,” he said. “I pointed out that nearly every other person walking along the South Bank was taking pictures of the view using their mobile phones and we had drawn her attention because we were using cameras.
“They said you could be doing a recce for a terrorist attack. which would have been a joke if it was not so sinister.” [London Evening Standard]
Then a Brighton man was stopped for taking photos of the Christmas lights in Burgess Hill Town Centre. Although Andrew White said he had only taken one or two photos, the Police Community Support Officers had expressed concern that he was “taking too many photos in a busy shopping area.”
Lord Carlile of Berriew, Liberal Democrat Peer and practising barrister, told the Independent:
The police have to be very careful about stopping people who are taking what I would call leisure photographs, and indeed professional photographers.
The fact that someone is taking photographs is not prima facie a good reason for stop and search and is very far from raising suspicion. It is a matter of concern and the police will know that they have to look at this very carefully.