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Snap out of it!

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“Authorities” issue another stop and desist to north-east photographer

Before I make a start local readers may be interested to know that Rossinisbird hasn’t quite disappeared but his quirky, interesting, acerbic, anti-religionist, green, climate change, freedom loving, and gaming blog has moved. Brian is now writing at Brian Paget where he relates the tale of two Accrington photographers who were stopped for being …..err…..well…photographers really.

Taking photographs at Christmas events must be a fairly common activity across the country, but the police decided to give these two unfortunate victims of our growing paranoid state a really bad time, and left one of them with a punitive arrest and criminal record, and DNA on file for as long as the police see fit.

Their crime is becoming all too common – reasonably expecting that the police justify their demands for the hapless snappers’ name and addresses, and perhaps give a little respect and use a little common sense at the same time.

It seems that photography must now be on the terms of the police, not the citizenry they are supposed to serve.

Too damn right Brian, it seems all you have to do these days to be thought of as a terrorist or a paedophile is to be male and walk around with a high ticket black bodied DSLR slung around your neck preferably with a large lens poking from the front. The fact that these incidents still happen is perhaps a reflection on the politics of police forces, there have been occasions when the Metroplitan Police have issued guidance to officers with strict reminders that photography in and from a public place is perfectly legal (in general) within the UK, but it seems that countless other forces don’t feel obliged to read or even follow the Met’s guidlines, whilst on the other hand it seems perfectly acceptable (to the police) to harass individuals by repeatedly photographing them in public or attempt to use (illegally) UAVs as Brian points out.

Which brings me to this incident a few days ago when Kevin Shewan was apprehended by Frank just a few miles from South Shields when he was shopping in The Bridges in Sunderland, his “crime” was to photograph his own son on a Thomas the Tank ride with his camera phone. According to Boing Boing:

At this point, a Bridges security guard (that will be Frank) came by and ordered him to stop taking pictures. He said that it was mall policy, and implied that Kevin was taking pictures because he was a paedophile. Kevin told him that this was ridiculous and took his son to find his wife and get out of the mall. He also took a picture of the security guard “so that if I later wanted to make a complaint to the centre I would be able to identify him.” Outside of the mall, Kevin was stopped by a police constable who had received a complaint from mall security that a suspicious potential paedophile had been taking pictures on its premises. The PC threatened to arrest Kevin “for creating a public disturbance” and ordered him to delete the photo of his son. The PC also averred that the Bridges Shopping Centre is a hotbed of paedophile assaults.

I would have liked to report Kevin’s own words but his weblog appears to be snowed under with requests, having featured at Doctorow’s place. Oh well perhaps it will recover in a few days time, I know how it can be after my story appeared in Boing Boing back in 2008. The silliness of these situations begs all sorts of questions about what type of society we are becoming as anti-terror laws introduced in the Blair/Brown years alter the very fabric of our life and have led to a paranoia about paedophiles, Muslims, and Photographers, but not necessarily in any given order. Heaven help anyone with olive skin walking through a busy shopping centre holding their little daughter’s hand with a camera around the neck! We have fast become a nation of stereotypes, pigeon holed into little boxes, profiled and categorised according to risk.

It really is time to snap out of it and realise that we are allowing the actions of some of the smallest minorities in life to dictate the authoritarian colour of our laws without regard to the well being, freedom, and civil liberties of the vast majority. What irks me more is the fact that the north-east, not particularly noted for high incidents of either paedophilia or terrorism, is as much mixed up in this Orwellian madness as London and other major conurbations – “bansturbation” has crept up on us with only a select few raising any real objections, even here in South Shields.

Related posts

There are other such posts in this blog, just do a search for “photography”, in the meanwhile you might also want to take a look at I’m a photographer not a terrorist.

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One Response

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  1. You’re right – my webserver has crashed 4 times in the last two days! I’ve just been reading your story about the incident in the fairground in South Shields – I’ve taken photos there too!

    Hot dog man

    Kevin Geraghty-Shewan

    February 25, 2010 at 11:28 pm

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