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POLL - Stopped while taking pictures

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Damien_Demolder, Mar 21, 2009.


Survey of use of video facility on digital compact/bridge

  1. I don't have a still camera with video option

    0 vote(s)
  2. I have at least one still camera with video option but have never used it seriously

    0 vote(s)
  3. Have used video option occasionally

    0 vote(s)
  4. Have used video option frequently

    0 vote(s)
  5. Have only fiddled to see what it's like

    0 vote(s)
  6. Only want to see the result of this poll

    0 vote(s)
  1. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    nope.......try and find a list of all 'incidents' and you'll find it's widely practiced by the different police forces of England at least.

    London might stick out because of it's size and proportionately more incidents.

    This thread is a tiny sampling.
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Yes, but again, the huge, huge majority of them have been in and around London - and that's really rather understandable, as that's also been the focus for all the recent terrorist attacks. I don't know anyone around me that's been stopped by a PC or PCSO for having a camera or taking pictures. It's all very well for you sitting in Israel trying to put together a picture of what's going on from reports, but it doesn't really reflect what's actually going on on the ground any more than news reports of individual incidents in Israel depict the reality of life for the majority of citizens there to us; from your postings, it appears you think that the moment you set foot outside your front door over here you'll be jumped on by PCs or PCSOs determined to stop you from using a camera, and the reality is very far from that. I've been asked numerous times not to use my camera, but always on private property, and never by police; whenever I've taken pictures in the street, I've never actually had any sort of reaction from anyone. None of that takes away the fact that there are undoubtedly PCs and particularly PCSOs out there who are not aware of the law in this area, nor the fact that a lot of the new laws seem poorly framed and open to abuse, and these are right and proper concerns to take up with government; but the majority of us simply don't ever see this sort of behaviour, and even for those who have, it doesn't appear to be anything like an everyday occurrance.
  3. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    Oh come off it Nick, are you in denial or just having a moderated troll.

    At least weekly there is another report of another incident. The situation is serious enough for M.P.'s to band together to fight it, For Damien, Chris and others to meet with Cabinet Ministers, photographers to hold protests outside The Met, etc. etc. and you say I'm exaggerating.

    And by the same token, we are only hearing about the reported incidents. What about the incidents where the 'victims' are too naive/frightened/embarrassed/couldn't be bothered to cry foul. Not forgetting of course those innocent, ignorant souls who believed that they indeed were in the wrong.

    The point is that the situation over the last few years has been getting tougher and the new legislation simply gives the authorities more powers to by-pass the fact that photography in public is not illegal. It's getting to the point where they'll turn round and say that neither are there laws making public photography legal.

    Anyway I certainly have no interest in visiting England in this atmosphere.
    Note I've been convinced that Scotland is not England.
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Sey, I think you're being unnecessarily offensive and frankly ridiculous. You have absolutely no idea what it's really like here, you're just (massively over-)reacting to a few stories. I've pointed out my actual experiences, whereas you sit there pontificating based on a few reports. I wouldn't have the temerity to suggest you don't know what's happening to you on a daily basis, and I would request you pay me the same respect. Just actually read what I've said, and stop being preposterous. Of course there's something to fight, but statements like "I certainly have no interest in visiting England in this atmosphere" betray nothing but your ignorance as to the true situation - it's just not like that.
  5. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    I haven't been offensive at all but if you have been offended, I appologise.

    Nick over the past 2-3 years it's been much more then "a few" incidents that have been reported and it's gaining momentum slowly but surely all the time.

    If my pontifications are overaction and preposterous, so be it, I still have no inclination to visit England, again solely because of this situation as I, and apparently not a few other people, perceive it to be.

    Nick, you don't do street photography, so perhaps it's not unreasonable to understand why you've never been troubled by the authorities.
  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Sey, just because I don't do street photography often doesn't mean I don't take photographs in the street and in public places. I do, all the time - I've always got some sort of camera, and I'm generally taking pictures. And I could easily argue that the fact I'm often pointing my camera at odd angles and taking architectural details, for example, might make me appear more suspicious to the police than someone taking pictures of other people. Whatever, it's not down to me not taking pictures in the street, that's for sure. Now look at the poll results - I agree it's a small and self-selecting sample, but even given that people have signed up just to take part, it's clear that the vast majority - 75% - of respondents have never been stopped whilst taking pictures. We have 22 people who have, and the majority of the tales recounted in this thread are ones of reasonable enough behaviour on the part of the police. That doesn't mean there isn't a problem, and I agree completely with what AP are doing; however, it does appear to me that the hysteria on this topic is coming from photographers, and I just don't think that's either justified or helpful; it's that very paranoia that's running the risk of poisoning the atmosphere. Now if you actually look at all the new laws introduced, it's clear that they're not intended to stop photography, but (a) I'm not sure they're necessary at all, and (b) they are open to be misapplied, particularly through ignorance and an excess of zeal on the part of officers on the ground. These are real issues that need to be tackled. However, if you accuse the Government of trying to do things they're not, as several have, then you can't really blame them if they think you're barmy and don't take your more genuine concerns seriously, ditto if you overstate the case. When you think how many people are taking photos in public every day throughout Britain, you can start to put the situation into perspective. That's not being in denial - it's precisely the opposite. And if photographers can't keep a sense of perspective, who can? :D

    And in the meantime, I'm going to carry on taking whatever pictures I feel like in public without fear, and I would encourage everybody else to do the same.
  7. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    I've just deleted another lengthy reply because as we say here, "We're mincing/grinding water" which means we're just going round in circles.
    I don't consider 25% being stopped/questioned by police, even of this very narrow test group, insignificant.

    Yes the missuse and abuse of legislation by 'over-zealous' officers wrong.
    All the why's, what's, wherefore's, if's, and's and but's have been hashed and rehashed ad nauseum.

    The whole point is that it is happening on an ever-growing scale.

    The whole basic premise that terrorists and paedophiles, remember they too were part of the equation, can be stopped from doing their dastardly deeds by coming down on photographers is the absurdity here.

    Until that fact is accepted and the 'reasons/excuses' for the missuse of the legislation, is erradicated, it's going to continue.
  8. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Well it's certainly not significant in the statistical sense. ;)

    Where's the evidence to say that? Apart from this survey, all the evidence is anecdotal, and there's nothing in this survey related to when anyone was stopped - apart from one person who indicated it was 3 years ago, and one other who relates a story from just over a year ago. There are certainly more stories about it in AP than there used to be, and the perception is that it's happening more and more, but is that honestly the case?
    Quite possibly, but we don't actually know, and there's little to be gained from whipping oursleves up into a paranoid frenzy over anecdote and perception.

    Ah, but the issue is more one of the general public suffering from a very similar hysteria and paranoia as some photographers are displaying. While you've got people so influenced by a few scare stories and unwilling to consider actual facts, you will certainly have problems. We don't help the situation by displaying the same behaviours. And like it or not, we have to accept that some paedophiles and yes, possibly terrorists, may take advantage of photography. Accepting that fact doesn't make us either, nor should it erode our freedom to pursue our love of photography, but it does make us look more reasonable to others - there's simply no advantage in denial.

    I'm far from convinced that there's any "fact" there at all. Like I said, read the legislation. It DOESN'T come down on photographers, only a cretin could actually interpret it in that way. The problem arises from the fact that some of the people charged with enforcing these laws probably are cretins. :D

    (OK, that last paragraph was over-emphasised for comic effect, but certainly I can't see how that mythical legal animal the "reasonable person" could actually interpret the law as suppressing photography in itself, even the section about elliciting information about constables of a kind likely to be useful to a terrorist. I really don't like that bit of law, and certainly think we should fight it as it is fundementally very illiberal, but I doubt very much indeed if any court would convict an amateur photographer on the grounds of that act simply for taking a photograph of a copper - it's just not going to happen, although I rather wish it would, as it would be interesting to hear what the Appeals Court made of it - I'm certain it would set a precedent making future use against photographers impossible.)
  9. Peter_Facey

    Peter_Facey Member

  10. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    OK I'm back from my workout and my thighs are aching, worked my legs hard today.

    At long last you got to the nitty gritty, and no it's not the law that is coming down on photography, but those that enforce the law. It's their missuse of the law for whatever reason, intentionally or otherwise that is the essence of the problem.

    That's why there is an urgent need for something/legislation/whatever to prevent the missuse of the law. It is simply too easy for them to hide behind the anti-terrorist legislation, which at the end of the day over-rides all.

    Time for a very hot Radox bath now :)
  11. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    The percentage of us that have been stopped around 1 in 4

    If 1 in 4 of us were shot at dawn it would change the entire social position in the UK in double quick order.

    If 1 in 4 of us were an active terrorist and let off a bomb
    there would be country wide slaughter.

    However there is plainly no relationship between the number stopped and the number who are terrorists.

    As yet no photographer has been shown to be involved in terrorism.

    It is this disparity in the facts that causes so much concern.
  12. john_g

    john_g Well-Known Member

    Damien - today I've seen several posters which form part of a campaign asking the public to inform the police if they see anything suspicious, and I'm sure many of the public will view photographers with suspicion, especially as the posters, to my mind, encourage exaggerated paranoia.

    Anyway, I'm wondering whether you can follow up your recent discussions with the following questions:

    1. How do the police evaluate, grade and respond to calls from the public where it is clear that the motive for informing the authorities of a suspected terrorist was the sight of a person taking photographs?

    2. How many photographers have been stopped and questioned by the police or related authorities, and how many of these photographers have been the subject of charges as a result? I'd have an interest in national, regional and London figures.

    Keep up the good work!
  13. huwevans

    huwevans Not Really Here

    More specifically, the proportion of people who responded to the poll question who have been stopped is around one in four. As to the proportion of photographers in general who have been stopped, we have no information.
  14. Me_Here

    Me_Here New Member

    This is something I feel very strongly about and would like to add my views on some of whats been said thus far, if y'all don't mind. Please don't be offended I'm merely offering my opinion.

    I agree that part of the problem is that photographers are a bit leery or up in arms (not sure I'd use the paranoid card just yet) about some of the incidents that are happening, however, being worried about a potential loss of a freedom is completely justified. I've seen a few groups and petitions to the PM to clarify the law, not only for us but for those that enforce the law, and the responses to those are just as vague as the recent law changes (to the general population of photographers). The problem I believe that fuels that feeling is the uncertainty that exists in current laws and the unwarranted actions of many law official across the UK as a direct result of that vagueness.

    It was mentioned that many of the so far discussed incidents were in or around the London area and I'm sure many or a majority percentage of recorded incidents are in fact, but to say that its understandable because its London doesn't seem right either. As far as I'm aware there is no special laws in the UK for photography that only pertain to London (all beit a more common target for terrorism), it is also a large city with a lot more people that are great, wonderful, law abiding citizens, and often it may happen more often there but it is happening in the far reaches of the UK.

    A famous quote comes to mind
    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke
    All I'm saying is that if we say 'oh it's only London' or 'oh its only a few photographers this happens to' then we are allowing things to escalate when in fact the time to act and for everyone to be made clear and even for everyone (photographers and law enforcement alike) to have their rights protected, is now. As Sey says, it seems to me to be an ever growing issue. Is that because of more photographers or because terror of terror? Maybe the real question for that would be, does it matter why?

    It's my belief that the problem lies with the wording of new laws, and the necessity of law institutions to 'interpret' those laws, and also for us as photographers to interpret them. It's doesn't seem to be about 'showing a force' to act against those that would lay terror to this land as some example to others, so much as just doing what is in their power to protect us all. After all if an attack takes place we are quick to wonder what must have gone wrong, but there are unfortunately not always means to protect us all, without making us all the prisoners. Which is one of the goals of terrorism I might add.

    I would also like to add that I love the UK, I love the people of the UK. This is not something that happens everyday to me, and I almost always have my camera around my neck and am shooting both rural and street photography on an almost daily basis. I would hate to think that someone would cross the UK off their list of places to spend time or to shoot because of a the incidents that have taken place, I simply would like to see some clarity in the laws, something that both I and the police, or security officials can look at and be sure of our rights.

    I think that it's important for us to have discussions like this one, and for MP's to get involved to rectify what I believe is a mistake of being to vague. Maybe just to allow for circumstances that are not foreseeable at this stage but its caused more problems on a wider scale then it will solve in the long run. I also believe that this thread was made as a fact finding mission and that should be allowed to continue in that manor, its hard to say just how bad a problem is if we don't have statistics and I don't see government agencies trying to find this out, so this seemed like a place that has the ability to find some and maybe actually do something about its findings.

    I apologize for the long winded postness, I just felt a need. And would like to also add that John_g raises some valid questions, is photography profiling working?
    Thanks for reading :)
  15. Bawbee

    Bawbee Well-Known Member

    Agreed, was she wearing a burqa perchance?
  16. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    I have never been stopped by the Police, yet, probably becuase most of my photography is in rural locations.

    However, I have been stopped by private security staff on two or three occasions.

    I have also been questioned by school teachers at school events - always when I have been using a SLR camera, but never with a compact. There also seems to be hysteria amoungst the parents of young children whenever they see a camera in a public place.

    There is clearly a problem regarding the Police/PCSOs and photography; but I believe there is a much bigger fear (in the minds of the public) whipped up by the likes of the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail, who seem to portray every photographer as a terrorist or paedophile.
  17. Ian_A

    Ian_A Well-Known Member

    Maybe we should enrol on Jaqui Smith's anti-terror course, then we can harass ourselves for a change.

    Another view on the course here.
  18. Hotblack

    Hotblack Dead Horse Flogger

    Precisely. This is a self selective poll and as a reliable statistical result is pretty useless really. It encourages those who have been stopped to post their experiences whereas those who haven't been stopped may well not even bother to vote.
  19. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    if it wasn't so pathetic and sad it would amusing.
  20. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Indeed - however, there's certainly value in getting people to post their experiences. Anecdotally it's useful, statistically it's of no value. But I'm absolutely confident Damien knows that full well, he's no mug.

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