I’m fond of taking snaps, particularly of South Shields in all its moods and I may post some of them here, but this thoroughly uncivil government, aided by an enthusiastic police force, is steadily eroding the freedom of photographers and criminalising an innocent pastime.
This Christmas story, of two photography enthusiasts in Accrington who fell foul of a plastic plod, a pathetic plod and a sergeant plod with something to prove. Taking photographs at Christmas events must be a fairly common activity across the country, but the police decided to give these two unfortunate victims of our growing paranoid state a really bad time, and left one of them with a punitive arrest and criminal record, and DNA on file for as long as the police see fit.
Their crime is becoming all too common – reasonably expecting that the police justify their demands for the hapless snappers’ name and addresses, and perhaps give a little respect and use a little common sense at the same time.
It seems that photography must now be on the terms of the police, not the citizenry they are supposed to serve.
It’s ironic that this criminalisation of amateur photographers is happening at a time when police forces across the country are introducing eye in the sky drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, (UAV for short) to keep an eye on the populace. Similar remote devices are used on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to target enemy combatants.
With 24 hour eye in the sky over our streets, the presumption behind these tools is that every citizen is a potential enemy combatant, someone somewhere is doing something criminal – perhaps even taking photographs without police consent.
It’s reminiscent of dystopian sci fi stories by Stephen King and Philip K Dick, with a bit of authoritarian Heinlein thrown in. Similarly dystopian cartoon character Judge Dredd described the future Mega City One as “800 million citizens, every one of them a potential perp”.
In Surveillance State Britain, the future is now.