I am not a frequent or very competent photographer, but I am charging up my camera determinedly now, to snap away in the interests of civil liberty. The police must get it into their heads that a camera is not a weapon of mass destruction, and that it is not an offence to take a picture of a public building. Yet under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, there has been an outbreak of detentions and questioning of random individuals: they include a prominent architectural photographer, several journalists covering legitimate stories, and a good few puzzled members of the public and tourists trying to snap the Christmas lights.
It really shouldn’t be necessary for Lord Carlile to tell the police “The fact that someone is taking photographs is not prima facie a good reason for stop and search.” A terrorist can use Google Earth or a quick cellphone snap anyway – no need to stand around in an anorak fiddling with lenses or putting up a tripod. But clearly, it helps police records to write up a healthy number of “actions taken under prevention of terrorism laws”. And few things are easier than harassing some poor innocent with a camera trying to immortalize an amusing pigeon or a rainbow over the London Eye. There’s a mass protest snap-in on January 23 in Trafalgar Square. Say cheese, officer!
Excerpt from the Telegraph by Libby Purves published: 7:30PM 02 Jan 2010