Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Taking Pictures: Not For Citizens (Especially When They Depict Police Actions)

The Picture Police strike again. And once more, our old friend the Terrorism Act 2000 is in the frame:
A passer-by was questioned under terrorism laws for taking a picture of a police car he thought was illegally parked.

David Gates saw the patrol car parked at a bus stop and snapped it on his mobile phone.

But the 42-year-old was spotted by officers, who asked him - under the Terrorism Act 2000 - why he took the photo, claiming it could pose a security threat.

Mr Gates was told his details would be kept for a year after he got trigger-happy in Portsmouth. .
Well, quite! After all, we need to keep tabs on dangerous criminals who might take photos of police!
'The two officers could find no closer place to park to the property than in the bus lane,' said Supt Neil Sherrington.

'It is reasonable for the officer to have made reference to the act and been suspicious as to why the photograph had been taken.'

He added police were attending a domestic dispute and parking in the spot was not illegal.
Well, Mr Sherrington, whether it is ‘reasonable’ or not is really not your call, is it? You’ll find it very difficult to find someone who agrees that the public can’t take photographs of your officers when it believes they are in the wrong, particularly given the fact you are always trumpeting the efficacy of CCTV cameras monitoring us and whoring yourselves out to TV crews to make thinly-veiled publicity programmes.

Still, at least the incident proved there is one Lib Dem with some common sense:
Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, said: 'I don't have a problem with them parking at the bus stop, but I do have a problem with them using this legislation for something trivial like this and keeping it for a year. The whole thing is quite bizarre.'
Not really that bizarre, Mr Hancock. You see, some people can’t be trusted with a little bit of authority over others and will abuse it. The key is not to give it to them in the first place…

4 comments:

Umbongo said...

I love the way Sherrington says "it would be reasonable for the officer . . . etc". I'm sure Mr Gates replied to the effect that he was taking the picture because he considered that the police had committed an offence and he was collecting the evidence to report them. A reasonble reply to a (more or less) reasonable question and the matter shoould have ended there (as it probably would have done 10-15 years ago).

However, as you say, we have ceded too much authority to effectively unaccountable jobsworths. Unfortunately the party of the possible next government has not told us which of the present administration's over-legislation they are minded to repeal on day 1 of the new government. Am I being a tad cynical to suspect that repeal of the 21st equivalent of the Six Acts is not in (let alone at the top of) the Cameroon agenda?

JuliaM said...

"Unfortunately the party of the possible next government has not told us which of the present administration's over-legislation they are minded to repeal on day 1 of the new government. "

You mean, you actually expect them to repeal anything...?

Umbongo said...

"You mean, you actually expect them to repeal anything...?"

On reflection - no. But why not be optimistic for a change? The sun's shining, the traffic's light, Labour's in trouble and Humphrys is not on "Today": things could be worse.

JuliaM said...

"...why not be optimistic for a change? The sun's shining, the traffic's light, Labour's in trouble and Humphrys is not on "Today": things could be worse."

True - and since the top contenders for Brown's crown seem to be Milibland and Harperson, life is sweeeet indeed... ;)