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Right to photograph in public places

Comment 2nd September 2010

There has been a trend in recent years for police – especially in London – to stop residents and tourists taking photographs in public places, on the pretext of stopping terrorism. Some have even been made to hand over cameras, or storage cards, or to wipe the pictures in front of the officer. The idea that these actions could ever make the slightest difference for a real terrorist is laughable. It is a complete nonsense, that makes those stopped with their cameras feel like they are in a police state behind the Iron Curtain in the 50's. The law should be clarified to ensure that no officer can stop a person taking photos in public places, per se.

Why does this matter?

  • The pleasure enjoyed by millions in taking photos in public places is at risk
  • There is no conceivable genuine security reason to stop photographers in public places
  • Forcing people to delete photos, and impounding cameras, is a crime against the person taking the pictures
  • The publicity from these actions by the police are making us a laughing stock around the world, and putting off tourists from visiting the UK
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