Secret Police?

Jail for photographing police?

The relationship between photographers and police could worsen next month when new laws are introduced that allow for the arrest – and imprisonment – of anyone who takes pictures of officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.

Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer.

The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who ‘elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces) … which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places. ‘Who is to say that police officers won’t abuse these powers,’ asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.

This government’s contempt for civil liberties continues…

Will this “anti-terror” law be used by the police to harrass anyone they want to? Of course it will.

Complete story, from the British Journal of Photography here.

3 Comments so far

  1. Fabulous Ruby (lon_vikki) on February 6th, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

    Since when did terrorists take phtos of coppers anyway?

    I thought they took photos pf cameras and crowds and stuff… this is blantantly not about terrorists, the same as when they terrorise people in those metal detectors in the tube.

    aghhh Its gonna be like 1984 but without the happy pills. :(

  2. frazgo on February 7th, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

    Wow, great link and post. This frightens me considerably as I walk all over the place taking pics. So far I have never been bothered, but I know plenty who have been.

    The change in your laws scare me a lot. The article outlines innocent stops as well as coverage of real events on a news basis. The latter scares me the most, this could easily be a way to stop documenting events, propagandizing of the news by officials rather than fair reporting.

    The former bothers me as when I go shooting in the UK, just like here I take photos of random stuff. I have no idea half the time what it is but it interests me. So I find something really cool along parliment and an officer is in the frame does that suddenly leave me open to search and jail detention while they sort it out. I pick the area around your Parliment as it is one spot I notice a large amount of officers all over the place and it would be difficult to exclude them from a frame. Its also a spot with what could be deemed a terrorist target instead of a tourist attraction and voila…I’m stopped?

    And what an awful date to chose, as if I really want that present for my birthday.

  3. ajpegg on February 14th, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

    Complain to your MP now, you can do it online and it really works

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