From this week, any unauthorised photograph, even inadvertent, of a policeman could land you in jail for up to ten years.
And it’s not just the police. Under Section 76 of the 2008 Counter-Terrorism Act, any picture “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” is prohibited. That means almost anything: railways, public buildings, government offices, monuments, parades, communications centres. Every officious jobsworth now has a right to stop you, tear out the film or delete the images and issue charges if you cannot convince the police that you are a train spotter or innocent amateur photographer.
Photographers are reporting regular harassment, by angry members of the public as well as police. And the new law is sure to be used by those who don’t want embarrassment or publicity to prevent pictures of scuffles, demonstrations or accidents.
“It is because of terrorism”, you see.
But wouldn’t zealots ready to plant bombs take pictures with phones or concealed cameras?
And how will a ban stop them from downloading detailed satellite pictures freely available on websites?
What an irony: a nation more photographed in secret by surveillance cameras than any on Earth now wants to stop people taking unauthorised pictures.
There is a petition against this on the Government’s E-petition website. The link, however, seems to be deliberately spelt wrong: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Photogrpahy/
Send that link to everyone you know. Remeber, just because you have nothing to hide does not mean you have nothing to fear.